Friday, February 27, 2015

Are You Reelin' in the Years. Stowin' Away the Time.

Hooray! It's the weekend. I took the last 2 days off in a row, as rest days. I was going to do a trainer work-out last night, but I got caught up doing a bunch of other things, and it didn't happen. I'm okay with it, because it will finally warm up this weekend to the 20's and 30's. Finally. So, I plan on doing as much running, swimming, bike trainer working out and CX country skiing as I can handle. I'm hoping two days off will help give me the energy to do triple work-outs this weekend.

I guess, we'll also have to cater to the damn cats. They are so adorable when they're sleeping. Too bad they have to wake-up...Especially in the middle of the night and when I won't get up and give them attention, they (Archie) starts knocking books off my shelf and onto my head. It's enough to make me want to hang him upside down by his heels...Oh wait. John just tried that and Archie loved it. Crap!

Tonight, my rockin' Friday night looks like this: Since it's still below zero with the windchills outside, John and I will do a track running work-out at the University and then we'll come home and have baked parmesan tilapia, sweet potatoes and beet salad and a big, fat cocktail. Then, hopefully, we'll watch a movie and try not to pass-out before it's over. Oh, to be old and raging...Or not.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Des Moines Was Stacking the Chips, Raking Off the Tables, Ringing the Bandit's Bells.

 So, we got hit with ANOTHER blast of Arctic air. I know I sound like a broken record with my, "Blah, blah, too cold, blah, blah, Iowa Winters suck, blah, blah, I've reached my saturation point, blah, blah, " but that's really where I'm at right now. The good thing is that it snowed enough to CX country ski this weekend and I'm excited about that.

 Since more escapism is necessary for me right now, I'll take you back to a happier, warmer place and put up another awesome bike ride post.

 This ride took place in the beautiful Des Moines area. Pshaw! You say? There's nothing beautiful about Des Moines? Well, that's where you're wrong. Des Moines has done an incredible job (with the help of Bike Iowa) at making trails for cycling and walking and running throughout their city and because of that, restaurants and bars have sprung up along them. It all makes for a really fun day of bike riding shenanigans.

I have wanted to ride this trail ever since I heard about it a few years ago. So, when Coadster asked us if we'd help her move from Ames to West Des Moines last July, we told her, "No problem" and brought our bikes with us and as soon as we moved her and took her to Trader Joe's to stock her fridge, we flew to the trails.

The first bar on the trail was a new brewery that just opened a few days before, called Firetrucker. It was a cute little place, but we didn't want to start drinking right away, because we wanted to get a little bit of harder riding in.

So, we took-off and when I'm riding with John, taking-off is going really fast. When we do social rides with our friends, John goes slowly and chats with people and helps slower riders by going their speed. When it's just us, John kicks my butt. I like it, because it makes me work harder and I've conquered my fear of riding someone's wheel that closely, but we were flying down those trails at about 25 mph. We passed a guy with a cool old Ridley bike, and he caught my wheel. He held on as long as he could, but eventually dropped off. He came up to us at the first bar we stopped at on the trail and thanked us for giving him a run for his money. Then we ogled his cool, old bike. Big surprise.

We finally made it to The Trestle Bridge and it was soooo cool. I'm so glad I got to see if for the first time with John and we could have out own little adventure on the trail.

On the way back, we hit the Fat Tire Lounge, which is basically an old quonset hut that sells good beer and fried food. Perfect. While we sat on the deck, I realized a guy I used to work with at an ice cream/coffee shop in Iowa City in the 90's was there with his family. I got to introduce him to John and we all had a good bike geek talk, before John and I headed back on the trail.

When we got to the end of the trail, we hit the Firetrucker Brewery and it was packed. They had a live band playing in the beer garden and someone making gourmet grilled cheese sandwiches. It really couldn't have been much better.

So, the next time you find yourself in Des Moines, rent a bike and hit the High Trestle Bridge Trail. You won't regret it...Unless you hate bikes, food, beer and fun, in general.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Let's Talk About Food, Baby.

Today I'm going to talk a little bit about food. I love food, so I could go on about it forever. When I was younger, I rarely had problems with my weight. I ran 30 - 40 miles a week and my body has always responded well to running as far as weight loss is concerned. So, even during the 9 years I worked at an ice cream store and ate it almost every day, I stayed in pretty good shape.

Of course, that all changed when I turned 45 and switched to mainly bike riding instead of running and going through perimenopause (the drop in estrogen levels slows down metabolism). I have been steadily gaining weight ever since...Until last Summer. Last April, I got to a bad weight number for me and decided I would try to do something about it. I don't have junk food in my house, but we do at work and I become like one of those kids who aren't allowed to watch TV and then stare with glazed eyes at yours, the entire time they're at your house. Only I don't just stare at the bad food people bring to work, I consume it. Once I got to the bad number, I decided I needed to take action. It's pretty hard to exercise more than I already do, so I concentrated on my eating habits. My first step was to stop eating crap at work. In order to do that, since I apparently have no self-control, was to make rules for myself. The biggest one being that I could no longer eat between meals and I had to just eat whatever lunch I brought in. And damned if it didn't work. I lost 13 lbs ( a lb a week) just by doing that and watching my portions during meals. It really wasn't all that hard.

cheese tortellini with fresh spinach and creamy pesto sauce, with a mixed green Greek salad.

The weird thing I noticed about it, was how my co-workers react to it. They not only tease me about trying to eat better and make fun of me for working-out too much (according to them), but they try to sabotage me as well by actually bringing bad food to my desk and leaving it with me even after I tell them I can't have it. Bizarre. I think it must be like the times in my life when I didn't drink because my migraines were so bad and I would still go to bars with my friends and order a soda, and even after knowing that I couldn't drink, friends would insist on buying me shots. I suppose people feel if everyone is drinking or eating too much, they're normal, but if even one person isn't, then they have a problem.

I don't do any fad diets, I just try to follow the Michael Pollen quote: "Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants." It really does work...Even if I do have to fight off the sabteurs.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

I've Been Everywhere, Man.

In honor of my 40th year of running, I thought I'd list all of the places I have had the good fortune to run in before. Ready? Okay!:

Arizona: Mesa, Scottsdale, Tempe, Tucson,

California: Angel's Camp, Leggett, Garberville, San Francisco, Big Bear Lake, Venice Beach, Glendale, Eagle Rock.

Colorado: Breckenridge.

Illinois: Alsip, Chicago, East Moline.

Iowa: Ottumwa, Burlington, Palo, Bloomfield, Cedar Rapids, Iowa City, Coralville, Indianola, Des Moines, Davenport, Cedar Falls, Waterloo, Muscatine, Fairfield, Grinnell, Centerville, Oskaloosa, Dubuque, Solon, Pella.

Kentucky: Louisville.

Minnesota: Minneapolis.

New Mexico: Albuquerque, Santa Fe, Tent Rocks.

South Dakota: The Black Hills.

Texas: Austin

Utah: Salt Lake City.

Wisconsin: Madison

So, maybe not a ton of states, but I'll take that as a challenge and see how many other states I can cover on running shoes. I was thinking about everywhere I've ridden my bike and the list looks a little different. I'll have to do that one next.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Move a Muscle, Move a Muscle, Move a Muscle.

Lesson number 5,457, don't give your niece your smart phone unless you want 100 selfies like this on it.

 John and I always laugh about how "mellow" our weekends are during training season, before racing starts in March. This weekend was a blur. A wonderful blur, but a blur none the less.

Humoring the niece, while John talks to our friend B*rne, like nothing's happening.

 Saturday I went out to run 9 miles. I ran my old route that goes down Park Road, hits on the Coralville Strip, heads down Mormon Trek and then back toward the downtown area, down Madison St. It killed me. I had been working out anywhere from 7-10 hours a week, but only part of that was running (apparently not enough). I did finish the 9.2 mile route, but it was tough.

When I got home, I got a call from John. He had gone out running a longer route, but after about 9 miles, his calf started bugging him. He was stuck on Prairie du Chein and starting to get cold after he stopped running. I was glad I had just arrived home and could jump in the car and get him before he froze. I'm sure there will be plenty of times when he will repay the favor, so I was glad I could help.

 About that time my sister called and said she and her family would be in town to pick up her husband's mandolin that was getting fixed and wanted to know if we could meet them for an early dinner. We had already made plans with our friend B*rne to meet us at the Kalona Brewery, so we just invited them along. John and I got a quick, half hour swim in and headed to Kalona.

We had a great dinner and a couple of beers. B*rne got a call that his bro-in-law got hit by another guy while he was driving. They thought he would be okay and not have to stay the night in the hospital, so B*rne took off to make sure he was okay. I told him if he wanted to hang out at our place with us until his girlfriend got off work, he was welcome. He did show up and we all watched the movie Philomena together. It's a really sad legacy, but the movie was very well done.

On Sunday the temperature dropped...Again. I planned for it, and that's why I did my longer run on Saturday. by Sunday my legs were sore, but I made myself run a quick 3 miles in the subzero temps. After Saturday, it was obvious that I needed more practice running. Later in the day, John and I went swimming for an hour and I felt like I was getting so much better after swimming so much this year. We'll see what happens after I start swimming in open water...

I will continue to hope that this is our last below zero weekend. March has got to be warmer, right?

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Gotta Photograph. Picture of.

I've always told my girls that in order to be happy in life you need to be open and honest with yourself and everyone else about who you are, you need to move, to make stuff and read/educate yourself. I try to do all of that as much as possible, as often as possible. Of course, if I had another 12 hours in every day, I'd actually be able to fit it all in.

I write a lot about how and in which ways I move, what I'm reading and I cover who I am and what my issues are on this blog a lot, so I thought I'd take a post to show you what I'm making these days.

Probably about 15 years or so ago, I took some black and white photos of my girls in the Bloomington Street Laundromat. Coadster thought it was the dumbest thing in the world, and her attitude in the photos was perfect for the subject matter. I have been meaning to paint that top picture ever since and I'm finally getting around to it. The dryers in the photo were nice 70's shades of orange and harvest gold and the paint above them was that institutional green color that almost every school I went to  as a kid was painted. So, I did the background last week and I'm planning on doing a cartoon'ish drawing of Coadster on a beautiful piece of Japanese paper that I will then affix to the first dryer in this painting. I'll post the result whenever I get that done. Hopefully, it won't take another 15 years before I get around to it...

The other thing I like to make is food. Lot's and lot's of really good food. Last week, I made honey sriracha brussel sprouts and butternut squash, potato and cheddar cheese soup. It was delicious AND nutritious. I would love to paint and draw more and I would love to buy a kiln and learn how to do ceramics, but once again, I only have 24 hours in a day and I work 8 of those and I work-out at least an hour or so a day, and then I suppose I need to sleep at some point too. Maybe my next lifetime?

Friday, February 20, 2015

See the Canyons Broken by Cloud.

 So, remember how I'm posting my favorite bike rides? Well, now I want to add my favorite runs too...But the kind where I move my feet, not the kind where I have digestive problems. Lucky you.

Since I was a kid, I have always tried to run everywhere I went, so I will have PLENTY of material for this.

This photo makes it look like John is on a cliff, but he's really about a foot of the ground.
A year ago today, John and I were getting ready to head to the Southwest after work. Would that it were the same today. Sigh.

John is not the best about deciding things, but he's pretty agreeable to what I decide, so I went through a million "best of" sites and found all of the places I wanted to go in the Southwest and all the things I wanted to do. I know John's emphasis is always riding and running, so I found all kinds of cool places to do those two things. He is REALLY good at figuring out directions and logistics (not my strong suit) and so it turns out, we make a pretty damn good team when it comes to planning vacations.

During our trip, I knew we would only have a little bit of time before we left Santa Fe and headed to Phoenix. I wanted to find some national park or forest that would take our breath away, but wouldn't be a terrible drive. A guy who works near me and whose daughter went to school with mine, told me about Tent Rocks. It's a newer park on a reservation. I Googled it and the photos I saw were amazing...And it was on the way from Santa Fe to Albuquerque and wouldn't take us far out of our way. Double bonus.

I am a HUGE tree hugger.
Our plan was to do a trail run through the park. Last Winter I was in piss poor shape. I was about 8 lbs heavier than I am this year and I didn't do much physical activity except CX country skiing, which, I did a lot of but it doesn't seem to get me in the kind of shape running does. So, I was a little hesitant about keeping up with John on a rugged trail run. Luckily, I had nothing to worry about. The minute we got on the trail, we realized there wouldn't be a ton of running done. The scenery and views were so jaw dropping that we stopped every couple of minutes to take photos and try not to fall off a cliff, while being distracted by all the beauty.

We actually did run a few miles there while ogling at the same time- a new skill set for me. If you ever get to New Mexico, definitely go to Tent Rocks, whether you run or just ogle. It's one of the most beautiful places I've ever seen.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

He's Licking His Lips. He's Ready to Win.

I'm fantasizing about riding my bike down country roads and being ignored by horses.

Oh, kids. It's been a weird one. First of all, if you aren't in Iowa, then you aren't aware of the fact that it's been about 20 below with the windchill today and will be about the same tomorrow. On a more positive note, it should warm up to the 30's on Friday and Saturday, before it gets freezing again, but in that time it could snow 2-4 inches, which will hopefully be enough to ski.

So, Monday I got something that looked like a legitimate request by the IT department at work for me to log into the link provided so they could rework my email and increase my space there. I did and Boy Howdee! did I just get scammed. Because of that, someone hacked into my email and sent all kinds of spam out to every university employee and people I had never heard of through my email. Awesome.

The REAL IT people figured it out and shut it down right away. I had to work with them on getting my email set to rights and the IT guy was very helpful. Once back into my email, I realized that people actually responded to the spam emails. Several of them wanted to know what they needed to give me to claim their prize. Did I need their social security number or other personal info? REALLY? I always wondered why people did that crap. Now, I understand that there are people who live under rocks and will actually give you their bank accounts and social security numbers at the promise of winning a prize. Weird. There were other people who said they clicked the link and nothing came up. Oops! Poor people are about to understand what my world is like for the next few days. I feel your pain. I'm still feeling it right now.

There are others who thought that I personally sent the spam...Because I am a total idiot and if I wanted to send spam, I wouldn't just hack into someone else's email? Those people wished me all kinds of things; like an untimely death, or a slow, torturous, untimely death and a slow, torturous, untimely death to me, my whole family and anyone I have ever encountered. Some people, I have come to realize, are extremely thorough.

Anyway, I guess that's one way to while away these last bitter months of Winter...Deal with something so annoying and tedious that burning your tongue, just by breathing with your mouth open outside because it's so cold, seems like nothing in comparison.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Being Dead Don't Hurt. No Only Dying.

So, this weekend started out wonderfully. At about 4 o'clock on Friday, a Des Moines bike racer friend of mine stopped by my office on her way to meet her daughter to bring me the Brooks saddle I won back in November in a raffle at Survivor CX. Ain't she a beaut?

I got off work, and ran my 6 mile route in beautiful thirty degree temps. I got home and made pan seared sea scallops, steamed asparagus and mashed potatoes for dinner and then John and I watched a couple of episodes of Frazier before bed. I make no excuses for being old and thinking all of the above is a perfect Friday night.

 I woke up about 4 am with a migraine. Boom! Apparently, there was some weird front blowing through (literally) and sending the temperature and windchills screaming. Stupid front. I took my meds and slept a few more hours.

John got up and went running, then headed to his mom's retirement community to help her with a few things. That gave me some lovely alone time to read and listen to music and harass the cats and try to keep them awake during the day, so they didn't harass us and try to keep us awake at night. Most importantly, I took a long, hot, wonderful bubble bath. Ahhhhh.

I met John and his mom for lunch and it was very nice. When we got home, it had been almost 10 hours since I had taken my meds, so I thought it was safe to go running. The winds and the cold were ridiculous, so I only ran 4.5 miles and had an ice cream headache almost the whole time.

When I got back, John and I swam laps for an hour and then got to hang out in the steam room for a bit. I was so hot and cold that day....

Saturday night, was the big night for new lovers and all that crap. I was going to make dinner, but migraine meds make me dizzy and spacy and I've been known to mess up many a recipe on them. So, instead we went to Shorts for dinner. We figured it wouldn't be too crowded, because it's not the kind of place you take a nice, fancy date. Of course, all the families and more relaxed couples must have had the same idea, because it was packed. We did get a seat at the bar and it was just perfect for us. We ended the night falling asleep watching the Bird Cage, and again, that suited me just fine.

On Sunday, I woke up with another migraine. it wasn't as intense, and I figured it might dissipate as they day wore on, but I was wrong. It left me during my 4.5 mile run in the cold, but came rearing back about a half hour later. I try not to take my meds if I can help it - especially 2 days in a row, because they basically wreck me brain and body, but I did have to say "Uncle", take them and sleep the worst of it off.

Sooooo, I'm hoping for a warmer, less migrainey week coming up.

Friday, February 13, 2015

When I Think About Me, I Touch Myself

My mom with my oldest sister and a cocktail. I like her style.
As I said yesterday, tomorrow would have been my mom's 83rd birthday. This year will mark 40 years since she died. I will never stop missing her. I obviously didn't inherit her sense of style, although, I did get her chin. I also got so much more from her. She taught me to make things and not to worry about whether anyone else liked them or  not, she taught me to be myself no matter what anyone else thought, she also told me to love...Starting with myself. So, after she died and we had to live with our horribly abusive aunt and uncle, I certainly didn't come out of that unscathed, but I still had a strong sense of self and I loved myself enough to spend several years working on my many issues to be a better, happier, more confidant person. Some days are better than others with that...But every day is better than it was when I was in my twenties and early thirties.

This year, John and I don't really have anything planned for Valentine's Day. I love John to death, but he isn't much of a romantic, and I'm okay with that. I'd rather be with a guy who treats me well all year long than one who tries to make up for all their transgressions all year with one day of attention. No matter what we do, I plan to celebrate by doing things I love - running, riding the bike trainer, swimming, cooking amazing food, reading a really good book, working on a  house project, starting a drawing for my next painting, watching a movie with my sexy boyfriend....The possibilities are endless.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Come. Come Sit Down on the Fence in the Sun and the Clouds Will Roll By.

Even though Archie is twice her size, he has no problem letting Heidi be on top.
It happens every February. The first week is fine, then I start getting this weird, bad feeling - like I saw a disturbing movie the night before and haven't fully processed it yet and there's a little dread mixed with sadness hanging over my head. By the second week, I look at the dates and it finally comes to me...February 14th is my mom's birthday, which is a good thing, but she died when I was 10 and I can't celebrate it with her, which is a bad thing. Also, Stinky got meningitis and almost died and my ex-husband and I took turns staying with her in the hospital for 10 days and staying home with Coadster. Stinky lost 1/4th of her body weight in a few days. When you only weigh 40 lbs, that's a lot.

Then I start to think about how poor I was back then and how I had to ride my bike to work every day no matter what and when it was 20 below zero, I couldn't afford warm clothes and got frostbite in many places and I crashed my 3 speed bike with bald tires several times on the way to work. We also had no space in our apartment then. The first place I lived after I got divorced was so small, the girls called it the motel room. It was dismal.

I can turn that all around by comparing all of that to what I have now. I feel like I am rich. My girls are adults now and trying to find their ways and still live close enough that I get to see them fairly often. I still ride my bike to work most days, but I don't have to. I have a reliable car now. How weird is that? And I can afford to park in the ramp when it is too treacherous to drive and I actually have appropriately warm clothes for almost any conditions and haven't had frostbite in years. Crazy!

I also am co-owner of my very own home and we have two EXTRA rooms. I don't have to sleep in the living room with no privacy. I share a bedroom with my partner and use the spare bedroom next to us, to do my bike trainer work-outs in and the upstairs dormer room is my swanky reading room, where I read while the cats try to distract me.

So, I will probably get a little sad and more reflective every February, but after I indulge it as much as I need to, I will also celebrate all that I have right now and look forward to Spring.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Anyway, You'll Never Know the Many Ways I've Tried.

John and I looking fresh'ish at the beginning of the ride.
 I woke up this morning at 2 am with a migraine. Apparently, there is another pressure system moving through. On account of it getting colder and colder around here, I bring you another installment of  my monumental bike rides posts.

The boys monkeying around.
 TOMRV, or Tour Of the Mississippi River Valley.  This was my first real road ride. Sure, I had ridden to Solon and back and I had done a 70 mile ride before this, but it was with our social ride friends and we stopped every 10 miles or so to eat and/or drink.

I just got a real bike in the middle of March and this was the middle of June. So, after having my CX bike for 3 months, I was a little worried that I might not be strong enough to do RAGBRAI at the end of July.  I went with John and our friend Bry and they both assured me RAGBRAI would be a breeze compared to this ride. TOMRV is basically two centuries back to back on a weekend, on very hilly terrain along the Mississippi River in Iowa and Illinois.

Thinking about switching our bikes out for this tandem.

I think it's safe to say that this was one of the hardest rides I have ever done. Mostly, because I was new at real road riding. I didn't really know how to draft and we had a strong headwind on Saturday. I also wasn't used to being in the saddle that long and both John and Bry had been doing long rides like this for almost 20 years.

I did love it, but it was tough. We all started out together and stopped at the first place, which was a park that had sandwiches and snacks. Bry was used to RAGBRAI and was a little disappointed that most of the people on this ride were not about drinking. They would stop long enough to eat, but not long enough to lose their legs.

After this stop, both Bry and John took off, leaving me by myself. John told me I should just jump on a draftline of bikes and hold on as long as possible. The idea scared the crap out of me. I didn't want to hit someone else's wheel and crash and I was so slow, there were few people I could keep up with anyway. The one time I did try, one of the guys screamed at me to get off. They had their own line going on. Um, okay...

I said screw it. I didn't care how slow I went and if I had to ride the whole 100 some miles by myself, I would do whatever made me most comfortable. Of course, that all sounded great until I realized I was all by myself with no other riders around and I had no idea where I was going. I finally saw a guy riding ahead of me and hoped that it was someone else riding TOMRV And not some guy doing his own thing who might just lead me way astray. I pedaled on and after about an hour, John finally came back to look for me. Luckily, that guy was on TOMRV and I was on the correct route. Whew!

John was nice enough to stay with me and we met up with Bry and made it to Galena. Bry had been having a rough time of it himself, it seemed and didn't really perk up until we stopped at the De Soto for lunch and beer. We changed direction and got more of a tailwind and the ride was sooooo much better from Galena to Dubuque. We all split up after Galena, but that was okay, because there were plenty of signs to help  me find my way.

This part of the ride was extremely hilly. I followed the signs until I saw one that said "The Wall" and went with it. There is a hill on Sugar Bottom Road that we call the wall, but this one was longer with a steeper grade. I labored up the  hill and just when I was getting toward the top, a bird pooped on my head. Of course. On the way down, I saw John was waiting for me at the bottom of the  hill. When I stopped to show him where the bird had pooped on my helmet, he said, "Way to go! I'm proud of you for going up the wall instead of going for the easier route." My response was, "Wait. What? You mean I had another option?" Oh well. I'm glad I went the harder way. I proved to myself I could make it up the hill on my longest and hardest bike ride still to this day.

The Mighty Mississippi.
 We waited for Bry to show up at the last bar on the Illinois side and then headed across the Mississippi. I think we take it for granted sometimes that we live so close, but how many people can say that they rode their bike over the Mississippi River?

We hit Dubuque, right around the time I reached 100 miles. My first century. Yea me! Then we headed to the college where they were serving us dinner. The food was starchy carbs, which sounded perfect. A lot of people were sleeping in the dorms there, but we opted for a hotel. I'm so glad we did, because I needed to fall into a coma and not be disturbed. We ended up riding 115 miles for the day. After our showers, John told me he was going to find the bar and do some drinking. I wished him well and told him that I couldn't keep my eyes open, let alone walk to a bar. A few minutes later, I felt him crawling into bed beside me. He must have thought better of it.

The next morning, we got up and ready to ride our next century day. It was all on the Iowa side and the roads were so gorgeous.

Sunday was a lot better day for me. I was getting the hang of what it meant to ride those long, hilly, stretches and the winds weren't as bad. Plus, John stayed and rode with me the whole day.

Bry went ahead. We stopped at a bar in the last town before we rode back to get to our cars in Bettendorf, and called Bry to see if he wanted to backtrack and meet us for one last drink on TOMRV. He said he had to get back home and couldn't stop. He was in a new relationship and we totally understood.

As we hit Bettendorf, we saw this white Blazer following behind us and were a little creeped-out before we realized it was Bry. He hadn't headed back to Iowa City after all. Not only that, he was nice enough to take this photo of John and myself finish my first back to back century ride.

And both the guys were right...RAGBRAI was a million times easier than TOMRV.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

I've Been in my MInd. It's Such a Fine Line

Iowa at the ass-end of Winter shot.
I'm usually pretty good with Winter. I make myself go out and play almost every day. I ride my bike to work every day, unless the roads are so bad that I almost crash my bike in front of a car (last week). I finally have the money to afford warm clothes and I spend it on those, so I don't feel so trapped. The other thing I do is read tons of escapist books.

I am on my 4th book of the year. Not too impressive, but since I do a lot of other things, I read when I can. The first three books I read were rereads of books I picked-up when I was a kid. I am always curious to see how certain works of fiction translate from childhood to adulthood. "Charlotte's Web", for example should be read by everyone every year until we die. It never gets old. Here is my take on the three books I've read so far this year. Please note, that I am such a freak, that every other book I read is written by a man and every other book I read is written by a woman. It fascinates me how men write women characters and vice-versa and then to juxtapose fiction of one gender to another is pretty interesting too.

Anyway. Here is my take on those books:

1.) I reread "Harriet the Spy" in the beginning of January and finished it while we were in Austin. I loved that book when I was kid. I got picked on a lot, because my parents were beatnik artist types and we lived in Mesa, Arizona - the land of conservative Mormons. All the kids called me a hippie spaz. I'm not saying they weren't accurate...

"Harriet the Spy" was one of the first books I read as a kid where the heroine was weird and it was actually a good thing. I loved that she wanted to be a writer and I didn't notice the upper-class lifestyle she lived. On the reread, I was a little disappointed by how snobby Harriet was. The other problem I had with it, which was no fault of the author or the story, was that my daughters watched the Nickolodeon movie over and over when they were little and it stuck pretty closely to the book. So, I had the movie images in my head instead of the leftover kid images.

2.) I reread "White Fang" and  "Call of the Wild" next. I didn't remember much about them at all, so it almost felt like a fresh read. I forgot how brutal they were, but Jack London wrote the animal characters so well, that it almost kills you when the animals are being abused. I loved the books, but I think it will be a while before I read them again...I need some time to let my heart heal.

3.) I just finished "Little Women" yesterday. I know I read it as a kid and I remember liking Jo, but not much else. I was surprised at how loooong it was. 776 pages. There were also a lot of MORALS. I'm sure that was par for the course at the time it was written, but I would have loved, just once for one of them to say, "Hey, get off my ass!" to Marmee. Just once. As a kid I recall liking, but not loving the novel and that's pretty much how I feel about it now too.

Now, I have switched modes and started reading "A Walk in the Woods", by Bill Bryson. I've only read 25 pages, but so far I couldn't ask for better escapism. Hiking the Appalachian trail with a charmingly self-deprecating man? Yes, please!

Monday, February 09, 2015

I'm Worse at What I Do Best.

Me ski.
 This weekend was a mixed bag...I suppose, much like life in general.

On Friday I got off work at 1:30. Originally, I was going to try and run my 9 mile route and get some things done. Unfortunately, the peri-menopause is strong in this one right now, so I haven't been sleeping very well. So, instead I met Stinky at Nodo for lunch and then we went to Prairie Lights so I could buy her a book and me too...Although, I ended up buying two. Oops! I know I have a problem. I could quit any time I want to, I just don't want to is all. Anyway, Stinky picked out a copy of The Portable Edgar Allen Poe. She does her mama proud.

The wide expanse of the groomed golf course.
 John emailed me from work later that afternoon. I went home and took a nap and then ran my 6 mile route after a little bit of sleep. John knew I wasn't feeling that great and asked me if he could take me out to dinner at Frida Kahlo, a restaurant in Solon. It was packed, but we were able to get seats at the bar without too long a wait. After we got our drinks, I told John, "Our bartender is very friendly and has lot's and lot's of energy.

John's response? "That's okay. We'll wear him down..."

this looks like it was taken someplace so much cooler than Hills, Ia.
 On Saturday we met a friend at Brown Deer Golf Course to try and ski as long as we could, before it got too warm. That didn't take long. Brown Deer was a fun place to ski with lot's of little rolling hills. I'd love to go back again when it isn't so warm and slushy.

We met some of our Des Moines friends in the parking lot. They were there to learn how to ski. They had signed up for the Birkie in Wisconsin, and just started skiing in December. They are doing the full Birkie - about 30 miles on treacherous terrain. Holy cow! When I started laughing, one of them said, "You know we're crazy, don't you?" Well, yeah...

I had a migraine for most of Saturday. Which explains why I was feeling so crappy on Friday...Build up. By the time we skied, had lunch, I took my migraine meds and then took a nap, I felt so crappy I could barely stand it. I tried to make lasagna, but forgot to put the sauteed veggies in the second layer, so I put them on top and made a new dish that I called inside-out lasagna. I might be spacy, but at least I'm good at fixing my mistakes, right?

Black bean chili and cornbread. One of my favorite meals to burn my mouth on.

On Sunday the snow was unskiable. That's okay. The beauty part of having so many passions, is that we just did other things. I ran my 6 mile route and with the snow melt, it was nice not to have to tromp through the drifts or worry about falling on the ice. Then we headed to Hills with some friends for a nice February bike ride. The kind that almost never happens in Iowa this time of the year.

Friday, February 06, 2015

Instant Karma's Gonna Get You.

This Friday cat photo is a ticking time bomb, putting up with our shit and biding her time before she eats us in our sleep.
This morning when John and I went swimming at the university rec center, the young college kid scanning my ID card was talking to his friend and started a sentence with, "So, I'm a really big fan of this band called Phish..." I had to try so hard to restrain myself from saying,

"Oh. That's too bad. Maybe you'll grow out of it. Most people do." Who knew I had a filter?

After our swim, I was trying to pull off my goggles, but I must have made them too tight, because the suction essentially gave me an eye hickey right before work. I figured it was karma for thinking snarky thoughts about that kid earlier. Apparently, Karma is a really big fan of that one band called Phish too...