Thursday, January 28, 2016

Check Ignition and May God's Love be With You...

Earlier this month I read Ben Lerner's novel, "10:04". In it, he talks about the shuttle disaster and brings up the speech Reagan gave addressing it. I had written a post about The Challenger Disaster on my blog however many years ago, but I can't find it. In honor of the 30th anniversary of the incident, I figured I'd just a write a new one.

"And I want to say something to the schoolchildren of America who were watching the live coverage of the shuttle's takeoff. I know it is hard to understand, but sometimes painful things like this happen. It's all part of the process of exploration and discovery. It's all part of taking a chance and expanding man's horizons. The future doesn't belong to the fainthearted; it belongs to the brave. The Challenger crew was pulling us into the future, and we'll continue to follow them."

Ronald Reagan

I was 20 years old this day in 1986. I had been working at a ski resort in Big Bear Lake, California when the snow ran out. It was too warm to ski and only the full-time, old timers could stay and get paid. My boyfriend and I had a plan (which was pretty impressive for us). His mom had gone back to college after Neal graduated from high school and was going to be studying at The Sorbonne for Spring semester. She asked him to house sit in his childhood home in the Noe/Valley area of San Francisco.

We were originally going to leave for San Francisco on Sunday, but we decided to wait and watch the Superbowl with our friends at the ski resort. I got so much grief for being from Iowa and having Ronnie Harmon throw the Rose Bowl a few weeks earlier, that I wanted to at least watch the Superbowl Shuffle Bears beat the Patriots, to get a little respect for the Midwestern sports teams from my Southern California coworkers who liked to make fun of me for being a hayseed.

Neal and I were both messes, in states of arrested development from colorful childhoods neither of us had had a chance to work through and recover from. We probably shouldn't have been dating anyone, let alone each other, but at least we both understood each other and for a couple of  years, we were both fine moving every 6 months and with letting things happen to us, instead of making actual decisions.

We finally got on the road on Monday and drove down the mountain to one of those weird, boring, Southern California, nowhere towns like San Bernadino and rented a hotel room. Compared to our crappy apartment in Big Bear, the hotel felt fancy. We did super mature things like jumping on the bed and eating pizza while watching cable TV.

We were full of hope for whatever adulthood would bring us, we were both going to be old enough to drink legally in the Summer and we thought going to a bigger city would make us feel like grown-ups in a way that living in the mountains or the Redwoods and not having bank accounts and just keeping what little money we had hidden under our beds, did not.

When we woke-up on Tuesday, we packed up our stuff and watched the Space Shuttle Challenger go off. Then we immediately headed to our car and drove across the street to a gas station. In the car we talked about how cool it was that there was a teacher on it and what an amazing experience that must be for her. We walked into the gas station to grab road food, and everyone was staring at the TV. I made a comment about how awesome it was to be able to watch it, and they all stared at me like I was an asshole.

"You think it's awesome to watch the shuttle explode?"

"What? No. It exploded? When? We watched it go off and it was fine...."

"Then you left too soon because it exploded not long after that."

I had no idea what to say to that, except, "Shit." and everyone around me nodded in agreement.

In many respects, Reagan's speech was right, I was being pulled into the future and the future was going to be painful. If I could go back those thirty years and know what was coming, I think I would have been terrified that I wouldn't be able to handle it all, but being 50 years old now, I'm even more hopeful for finding out that I could...

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

And the Backs of My Eyes Hum With Things I've Never Done

The 1st RAGBRAI I did was a group of 15'ish. Now we're unwieldy 40'ish
They announced the RAGBRAI route on Saturday. I knew it was probably going to be Southern, since it's been a while. I also know the reason it's been a while, is because Southwest Iowa is not the best RAGBRAI route. The towns are small and many of the inhabitants have not been all that welcoming in the past. We did joke about how Southwestern Iowa, being the meth capitol and all, might make it the first RAGBRAI where we actually lose weight...

The big problem with some of the towns we're going to for our overnight stays, are their very small size. One of the town only has 400 some families in it. Imagine what 10 to 20,000 people converging on that town might look like. Hopefully, they'll have enough vendors in the towns to accommodate everyone. John said in the past, they arrived at a small town that was out of all food from the vendors, so they headed to the only grocery store in town that had a sign that read, "closed for RAGBRAI". They ended up foraging at the only Casey's in town and basically had chips and candy for dinner.

I loved the route the first year we rode. Straight through the middle of the state. Here is the stop in Templeton.

So, now John and I are kicking around RAGBRAI ideas. We still could go with our group from beginning to end and just deal with trying to forage for food in these smaller towns. The other idea we had was to drop our bags off with the RAGBRAI group, but then start from Iowa City and meet them half way. We could map out our own route and hopefully, my sister would let us stay there our first day, and then we could stay at a hotel in Centerville the next and meet our friends in Leon. I also found this cool map: , so we can figure out which roads would be the safest to ride there. Also, we could use this for any kind of bike trips we want to take in Iowa. Lord knows, I love bike trips. Anyway, it would be a fun adventure and John and I thought it could be fun to document what those couple of towns look like before and then during RAGBRAI. We'll see which way we go. I kind of like the second scenario, because I wouldn't be so sleep deprived and I'd get better food for a couple of days and get to ride without 10,000 - 20,000 other people for a couple of days, but then still do the fun spectacle that is RAGBRAI with our friends for the last three days. Win/win.

Our group is also getter really large, so the logistics get trickier every year. I want to ask my sister if we can stay with her with our whole group for RAGBRAI, but it's a lot to ask of people without a lot of money to let over 40 people shower and use the bathroom at your house. I wish we had gone through Ottumwa on my first RAGBRAI, when there were only 15 of us...

Either way, we'll have a fun bike adventure and that's all that matters.

Monday, January 25, 2016

And I'm Gettin' Old...

Some bad kitty let their mark on the bike path.

This weekend was an interesting mixed bag. On Saturday, I was still feeling kind of crappy, so I rested. I read and drew. Then in the afternoon, I felt better, so I went for a little 2 mile walk to test out my hip. My hip was okay with the walking and oh my, did it feel good to be outside. I used to think it was moving that kept my spirits up in the Winter. Now, I know that's a big part of it, but moving also has to be accompanied with going outside. It helped my mood immensely.

Saturday night was date night at our house. We had dinner at Apres. We got the salmon salad with poached egg and grapefruit, the duck confit poutine and the roasted corn and lobster dip and split it all. We had a lovely dinner and then went home and watched "The Martian". I read the book and found it very entertaining. The movie was great too.

There was a full moon this weekend, but we had such a nice couple of days, that even the moon didn't make me nutty or cranky. Also, it made for a beautiful evening.

I know I'm supposed to be 50 years old, but apparently, sometimes, I get confused and act like I'm 5. This Sunday was a perfect example of that. I felt better. I felt soooo much better. Any adult would be glad, and would try not to push it too hard, so that they didn't have any kind of relapse. Any RATIONAL adult, that is. Too bad I don't fit that description.

I felt better, so I ran around like an idiot, trying to do everything that I haven't been able to do for the last week or so. I walked my 2'ish mile route. I tried to run little parts of it, until it was clear my hip wasn't THAT much better. Then John and I swam laps for an hour. Afterward, we sat in the jacuzzi and watched a little of the Hawkeye basketball game on the big screen TV there. I'm serious, if they sold beer there, it would be standing room only...

Anyway, after the swim, we had lunch and then decided that since it was all the way up in the lower 30's, we should get the road bikes out and go for a little ride. It turned out to be a lot littler than we planned. I've been riding on my trainer and my hip didn't bother me a bit, so it didn't occur to me that it would be a problem on the road either. Turns out, my hip didn't like the aero position. we got about 8.5 miles out of town and had to turn back around and I had to ride my bike in the most upright position possible. I'm sure I looked more than a little odd. Whatever. I'm used to it.

So, I exceeded my limits yesterday. I'd like to say I regretted it, but it was worth it to get to go out and play on a beautiful day. I am trying to act like a 50 year old today. I'm just commuting to work and back in my very upright position and we'll reevaluate again tomorrow.

Friday, January 22, 2016

When It's Cold Outside, I Got the Month of February.

traiiner workouts are a little blurry at 5 am.
Oh, Kids. It's been one of those rough weeks in the middle of January. You know? I still have a little cold. It's really not bad....And my hip still hurts, so running, the thing that saves me in the Winter, isn't a possibility. I did try to do a trainer workout on Tuesday after work and swim laps on Wednesday morning before work, but I realized I was pushing it. I've decided to take a couple of days of to give my cold a chance to leave me and to see if I can get my stupid hip to stop hurting.

So, much of this week, I've been in the slightest of funks. I hate being in a funk, and I decided to try and fix that...

First, I planned a daughter dinner date on Wednesday night with Coadster to the new'ish BBQ place in town. It was really nice. We had a great talk and ate good food. The cornbread was the best I've ever had. It helped a lot, but didn't completely kick it.

Next, I planned a little trip...Since we don't have tons of money right now, and we're trying to be better with spending in general, it is a little trip. It's also kind of an odd choice for someone who is losing her patience with Winter. We're going to Madison for Winter Fest in February.  Mostly, we're trying to find enough snow to CX country ski on, but I was checking things out and saw that they have a night time, fat bike, crit right downtown. It sounds like a blast. I've never ridden a fat bike before, and if I ever get rich, I do want to get one. John and my brother and myself are kicking around the idea of renting fat bikes to do it. It's one of those "races" that warns riders that they will be beaten if they take it too seriously. That sounds like my kind of race. If we just end up watching it, I will be more than fine with it. It sounds so entertaining. If we end up doing the race, it will be one of the new things I try this year...I always try to do at least one new thing a year.

Anyway, our hotel room, right downtown in Madison has been booked, our Friday vacation days have been approved and we're working with my brother on the best places to ski in the area, while, at the same time, checking places to rent fat bikes in Madison. Fun has been planned and funk has been lifted. I hope you all have a funky, but unfunked weekend.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

No Such Thing as Tomorrow, Only, One, Two, Three, Go!

Like I said before, I got the Martin Luther King holiday off work yesterday. John always makes fun of me because every time I have a day off by myself, I have a list of a bout 900 things I want to do in that time. He used to worry that I'd be upset with myself, for not getting even half of the crap done, but now he knows I don't work like that. I'm excited to do all of the stuff I can't normally get done when I work all day, and I'm curious to see what I actually will get done. If I don't get 894 of those things done? Eh, it will all be waiting for me on another day.

So, yesterday started out great. I woke-up, made some tea and read my book for a while, made a grocery list, and got ready to head out to buy things to make eggplant parmesan for Monday's dinner and then stuff to make a pot of curried red lentil soup to go with the hummus and falafel pita sandwiches I was planning on making for dinner Tuesday. I was so excited at the prospect of a whole Monday at home, when I tried to start my car and all I got was crazed clicking noises. Damn! It was dead. I always thought if I had a new car, those kinds of things wouldn't happen in frigid temps. Apparently, I was lying to myself.

Oh well, I did some things around the house, made some lunch and watched House Hunters while I was eating it and texted Stinky to see if she had jumper cables. She did not, but she said she was free until 3, when she was going to meet her sister to work-out. Sweet! I tried the car a couple of times, because I'm a sucker for false hope.

After we got back from running errands, I read a little more, and then worked on some more stick people running drawings. I finally got it to the loopy flowy running stick person I wanted, so I painted it over the background I painted on Sunday. It is the first time I ever did a painting for me. It should match our living room perfectly.

Anyway, I did get the eggplant parmesan and the red lentil soup made and not much else. Eh, I'd hate to run out of things to do on my time off anyway....

Monday, January 18, 2016

Yo, Watch the Way I Navigate

Snoozing in the sunny spots makes the cats lazy(er).

Check this out. I'm blogging from home, which means I finally got my computer back. Yea! It's also better than before - now new improved with a bigger hard drive and some programs to keep the heinous malware out.

 Last Friday pretty much sucked. It was crazy busy at work, because the new semester starts tomorrow and everyone waited until the last minute to take care of crap. Then, I also had a problem with my bank giving some other customer $400 of my money. I thought I got them to fix it on Monday, but then their website was down and by Friday, when I checked to make sure, not only was the $400 still gone, there were overdraft fees, because I try not to keep much money in my checking account. Sooooo, I had to go down to the bank on my lunch break and the guy told me he guaranteed that he would have it fixed in the next hour and he'd call me and email me to let me sure when that was done. He never called or emailed me. I was still feeling crappy from that mild bug I had and my hip wasn't healed yet either. Yeah, I know. Wah, effing, wah.

Anyway, I got home from work and John got off work early, so he could go to the store and get my computer set up before I got home. I really am the luckiest, most spoiledest girl in the world with John in my life. While John was running, I went out and got some Chinese take-out. We had a cocktail and watched the "Thin Man" after dinner. Talk about turning around a bad day...

This is the facility where we swim laps.

The rest of the weekend  was frigid. I was still feeling a little punky on Saturday, so I settled in to read the first Harry Potter novel. I heated up leftovers for lunch and then John and I went to the rec services building to swim laps. I get a sweet deal, since I work at the university and John gets a not so bad deal for being my one extra family member on my account. The services are pretty damn sweet. We get to sim laps in a University level pool and normally we got to use an amazing steam room. It's down for repairs right now, but that just means we have to settle for a gigantic jacuzzi with some of the strongest jets I've ever felt. Life is so hard...

After we went swimming, we decided to say screw cooking and went to Eastside Shorts for dinner. We always sit at the bar and our favorite bartender was working. We talked to him and one of the servers about books and music and what we were all up to lately. Then we went home and I made John watch the movie, "Holes". Eartha Kitt, Jon Voight, Sigourney Weaver and Henry Winkler? What's not to like?

On Sunday I woke up with a migraine. I took my meds and laid around on the couch and watched a European cyclocross race online and then read more Harry Potter, while I waited for my migraine to disappear.

Since it was about 25 below with the windchill, neither John or I were up for working out outside, so we went back and swam more laps. We ran to the store and then I figured that if it was going to be that damn cold, I'd just go ahead and make some delicious comfort food. I made tuna noodle casserole with crunched up potato chips on top and then added a little heat with honey sriracha brussel sprouts. Here's to building up that Winter pelt!

Just as I was getting that overwhelming feeling of dread that comes to me every Sunday evening, I remembered. I don't have to work on Monday! Poor John works at a clinic and they don't get Martin Luther King Day off, but that just means I get the house to myself...Besides those annoying cats, that is.

Friday, January 15, 2016

Now I'm a Seasick Sailor on a Ship of Noise

Some very colorful food I made last weekend.

So, yesterday it was lovely. I got off work and rode my bike home and it was almost 40 degrees. I thought I would run a nice, slow, 6 mile route and most of the icy spots had melted, so I wouldn't have to worry about falling. I started running and everything hurt. I generally don't listen to the first mile of my run. The first mile is a liar. It always tells me I'm too tired, I'm cranky, I get weird phantoms pains that suddenly disappear it conspires against me and my run. So, I kept running, but even after the first mile, my legs and my feet were killing me and I felt dizzy and really tired. Normally, I like to blame everything, mentally, physically, emotionally, monetarily, mechanically, even the state of the union and weather, on menopause and hormones...And I'm usually right. This time, though, I think it was something else. When I was riding my bike to work today, my legs were still so sore and achy, I could barely pedal. I said something to John about the fact that I noticed I had a bit of a sore throat and I felt feverish. He said he had the same thing for a few days earlier. He said it never developed into anything bad and it felt like it was going away, so I'm hoping for the best.

I get a three day weekend (Yea, me!) and it's supposed to get bitterly cold again. Originally, I was going to try and get some serious running miles in, but now? Now, I will take things easy, read Harry Potter for the first time, watch some old movies (The Thin Man and To Sir With Love), clean the house a bit, and try to get a painting at least started and relax and get over my bad bug. I also now have an excuse to hibernate. I'm sure the cats will be thrilled.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

List'ning to Muzak, Thinking 'Bout This 'n' That

Well, I did my first Winter trainer workout of the year today. I set my alarm, stayed in bed and sighed for about 15 minutes and then got up and wandered around looking for the pages of my Arnie Baker workout, filled a couple of water bottles, got the mini speaker for my iPhone ,and then FINALLY remembered to grab a sweat towel (EW!) I did my first workout that took just under an hour. These particular workouts get progressively harder and longer as you get further along your way to the end of the 3 months. Each week you are supposed to do the two work-outs on the page and then ideally you are supposed to do a road ride or two on the weekends (apparently, you aren't supposed to live in Iowa in the Winter). I don't LOVE to work-out indoors on the trainer, but it makes me so much stronger on the bike, and I do love to sweat it out in the morning and listen to music and have some alone time.

I know I'm not telling anyone anything they don't already know, but I'm weird. I like being weird, which is good, because I can't help being that way. When I was on the Culinary Ride, I was talking to an acquaintance who owns a spin studio. She was telling me I should take a class there and I tried to explain to her that it's just not my thing. I'm not a structure person, and I'd usually rather workout by myself (preferably outside). I do ride outside with friends, but generally, it's a fun ride where we aren't trying to go fast. I can ride with John when I'm trying to go harder and work on drafting and jumping when he jumps and that kind of thing, but I'm not a fan of pack riding. I know it's good for me to get used to it, but I don't feel comfortable and I have a hard time focusing when I work out with other people and I can't talk, so I feel rude when people try to chat with me. This woman who owns the spin studio didn't believe that I could work as hard by myself as I could with others in a class. She said she needs motivation from other people and music to go harder.

I don't need other people for motivation. I push myself hard and I listen to music, but I like my own music. Having to listen to Taylor Swift or Justin Bieber or music I just don't like, would really take away from my workout. In other words, I'm an old curmudgeon, set in my ways. I think it's great that people do what motivates them and makes them happy and most people I know are motivated by working out with other people or going to a class, but that's not me. I've always needed my alone time and I have that attention span issue that makes focusing and socializing extremely difficult.

As we enter into the ass end of Winter, I hope everyone finds what motivates them to play and move and have fun.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

How I Wish You Could See the Potential

 I went on three very different runs this weekend. Each run seemed to have its own unique personality. As I mentioned earlier, I took a half day of vacation on Friday. It turns out that I was very smart to do that. The day was about 40 degrees and misty and foggy.  A perfect day to run. I did my first run longer than 6 miles for the first time since March. I was worried that it would kill me, but I went nice and slow and ran through the cemetery and it was all sufficiently quiet and creepy and beautiful. It was warm enough that some of the ice was FINALLY melting from the sidewalks and streets. I would run long stretches and not see much ice at all and then I'd hit lower lying areas where the ice was melting and even slipperier than they had been the day before.

By the time I finished, I ran 7.95 miles and I was good and tired. It was a great afternoon off.

This is on a lawn right off the bike path. I wanted to photograph it before all of the snow melted and it disappeared.

The next day the temperature was dropping and the winds were picking up. It had snowed lightly overnight. So, I ran around 9 am and the wind chills were already getting pretty low. I ran 6 miles and some of the areas where the snow had melted in the warmth of the day before, had turned into slick, sheets of ice, covered by the light snow. At one point I found my front foot sliding, while my back foot came up and kicked it. I have no idea how I stopped  myself from falling, but whatever I did messed up my left hip a little and I've been walking with a slight limp ever since. It's not bad, and I'm sure it will heal right up, but it could have been a lot worse...

On Sunday, I waited to run until the actual temperature was about 5 degrees and the windchill was about -17. You know, because I wanted to make sure it was warm enough outside...I wasn't going to run very far, but I do like to get outside at some point every day, because it makes me happy and I have always gone running outside when it is that cold, so my body is used to it.

Anyway, I did my 3.4 mile run and went up my street and didn't try to run on the sidewalks, since most of them were just too damn icy. I came back on the bike path and it was nice and sheltered from the wind. I also figured out how to put my phone in a jersey pocket and then put layers over it, so it wouldn't get too cold and stop working. I had music the whole way. Score! I probably overdressed, but it would have been pretty dangerous to underdress.

This concludes this segment of Adventures in running. I hope you all had some of your own outdoor adventures this weekend, no matter what your weather was.

Monday, January 11, 2016

I Like Big Books and I Cannot Lie

It's time for my December stats post. The weather was so much nicer back then. Running was a lot easier and we were actually able to ride road bikes outside. Sigh.

Riding: 167 miles.

Running: 61miles.

Swimming: 5.3 miles

Books Read: 5. Much less than the last couple of months, but in my defense, the books I read were, very, very big. - "An Unnecessary Woman" Rabih Alameddine, "The Bone Clocks" David Mitchell, "NW" Zadie Smith, "The Stranger's Child" Alan Hollinghurst, "Unbroken" Laura Hillenbrand.

Drawings and paintings done: None. Although, I've started on sketches for my next painting. I have some more work to get them where I want them, but the fact that it's basically a stick person, gives you an idea of my "talent".

Blog Posts Written: 17. My computer dying will probably affect December and January, but hopefully not February.

House Projects Done: Well, um, you know...We bought a couple of things and then got overwhelmed by them.

Stories Written: None, but I do finally have a few ideas cooking and as soon as I get my computer back, I'm sure I'll be right on that...

So, there it is...Or was. We'll see if I can keep from getting so overwhelmed and if I can blame more things on not having a computer at home this month. My guess, is that it's probable...

Thursday, January 07, 2016

Everyone Knows I'm in Over My Head

It's dreary and rainy here in Iowa today. I just gave myself the treat of taking a half day off tomorrow, so my mood has picked up considerably. If you have the vacation time, I highly recommend it.

Our current, dingy popcorn ceiling and 70's style fans.

So, I know I keep talking about us working on our kitchen this Winter, but then we get overwhelmed and say, "Screw it. Let's go for a bike ride." We did buy new, sleek looking ceiling fans, but that was the fun and easy part. This weekend, we went to Menards and got tons of plastic sheeting. We've read that scraping off a popcorn ceiling is dirty, messy business and we'll have to cover everything in our kitchen. So, now we've taken away our excuse of having to go get the sheeting before we start the project. I'm sure we'll think of some new excuses not to start the work. We're creative like that.

My kitchen when I first bought my house. Faux wood, cigarette burned counters are gone now and cabinets all repainted.

Tuesday, January 05, 2016

The Days Get Longer and the Nights Smell Green

Another holiday weekend. I could really get used to these extended weekends...In fact, I AM really used to these extended weekends. That working 5 whole days in a row, could be pretty tough for me this week...

We started out New Year's Eve after work on Thursday. I met John at the Dublin Underground for what they call Irish New Year, but what I call old people New Year. In Ireland, its midnight, when it's 6 pm here. It's perfect for us, because we don't have to stay out very late.

 After we celebrated the New Year, we headed to the restaurant where Stinky was working and we got dinner and were able to see Stinky before she took-off on her first cruise on the 2nd of January. We also gave her a ridiculous tip.

 We got home in enough time to tend to the critters. Archie missed us so much, he made John put him on his shoulder and walk around the house with him. We got to bed around 9:30. Happy old people New Year!

The first day of the New Year looked like this: Woke-up around 6, had a mild migraine, took some Advil, went back to bed. Woke-up again around 9. Watched a European CycloCX race on-line, drank tea, read a book. Went swimming for an hour, got home, made spinach artichoke ravioli with Alfredo sauce that I put some artichoke hearts and kalamata olives. Read some more, went on a 6 mile run with the sun setting on me and then we headed to a friend's house to watch the last part of the Rose Bowl. Which, as it happened, was the only part to watch. Pretty much a perfect first day of the year.

January 2nd was really nice too. I took a break from working out, but I ran many errands instead. John and headed to Menards and got things to work on the kitchen. We're hoping having the stuff we need in the house, will keep us from making even more excuses about getting the work done, but we'll see about that...

Coadster came home a day early. John and I were going to go on a date, but since Coadster was there, we asked her if she wanted to make it a family date. She was all for it. We had a lovely meal, a couple of cocktails and then went home and watched the DVD of  "A Walk in the Woods".  It was a very lovely family date night.