Sunday, July 24, 2016

'Cause There's a Brand New Game That I Want to Play

Archie likes the box my panniers came in.

Well, kids. Tomorrow we are leaving to meet up with RAGBRAI. Since it is a Southern route and goes through very small towns, we decided to opt out of the first few days. Instead we made our own route and will take off Monday morning and head to Burlington.

It is all new to us. John bought me some water proof panniers for my birthday, we fixed my old cyclocross bike into a touring bike and John got a little back pack for his bike. We aren't going to camp on the way out. We sent our tent and sleeping bags off to the bus our team has and we'll meet them on the way to Centerville on Wednesday. We chose to go credit card "camping", which means we're renting hotels the first two nights. Imagine the luxury. And because we're 12 years old we chose to stay at the Pizazz in Burlington, where they have go-carts and a water park and a bowling alley.

We'll go to Ottumwa from there. We have our lunch towns all picked out and we went to Trader Joe's when we were in Madison, where we bought plenty of trail mix that I divided up in little baggies and then bought king sized Pay Day's, so we should be good on food in between stops.

Since neither of us had ridden our CX bikes that we're taking in months and months and we're not used to riding with bags, we decided to use this weekend to go on rides and make sure the mechanics were all fine. Man, were we glad we did. My saddle was too high. I lend out this particular bike to my friends who don't have a CX bike and want to ride gravel and the last guy I lent it to was, apparently much taller than me. We, on our 45 mile ride on Saturday, we futzed with my saddle height and John messed with his pack. He also broke a spoke and my peddles weren't working for me. It's a damn good thing we had another day to ride after we fixed all of that.

So, today we rode and before we even left our street I tried to brake and realized that John forgot to hook my brakes back up after he took my wheels off. Oops! I freaked right on out, as I was going down hill and had to blow through the stop sign and turn left and hope for an uphill to slow me down. that may have been the very first time I have ever hoped for an uphill. I finally stopped and we got the brakes all hooked-up again and then John said, "Man. I thought you were going to have a heart attack."

"I almost did. I also wondered if you had just taken a big life insurance policy out on me..."

Luckily, the rest of the ride was uneventful. My new pedals worked, John fixed his spoke, the panniers didn't seem to bother me much at all. Although, I do really miss the momentum I usually get from rolling hills, that the weight of the panniers doesn't give me.

So, I think we're ready to head out tomorrow morning on a completely new adventure. I'm excited and a little nervous. Just the kind of combination that keeps me from getting in ruts.

Besides my asshole cats. I will  miss my gardens most of all. I'll be back next Saturday afternoon with oh so many stories from our adventures.

Now, time to play!

Friday, July 22, 2016

Well, We're Scared but We Ain't Shakin'

Flowers from our garden,
I had my appointment with the surgeon today. John went with me and we got our questions answered. We also got my lumpectomy surgery scheduled for August 10th. The doctor said I should be off work for about two weeks after that and then start radiation about a month after the surgery. It's all a bit overwhelming, but it could be much, MUCH worse. After the doctors performed their exams, John and I had this conversation:

Me: I sure am getting felt-up a lot lately.

John: Is it doing anything for you?

Me: Not really. You'd think it would put me in a better mood at least...

So, I will continue to write updates as things progress in between our normally scheduled programming.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Rise Up this Morning. Smiled at the Rising Sun.

I have been very lucky the last few years by having incredible birthdays. This year was no different. John and I headed to Madison on Thursday about 4. We stopped in Dubuque for pizza and got to Madison around 8.

John planned out a nice townie route and we headed out on our bikes to check out La Fete de Marquette. We caught the last couple of songs by Cyril Neville and the Royal Southern Brotherhood. What we heard was great. We headed back home and our friend, Burne finally showed up. He was going to try and get there when we did, but he's a farmer and he had stuff to take care of and he said it was just one of  those days where everything went wrong.

Friday morning was cool and misting outside. I got up and went running around 7. My brother lives across the street from the arboretum, so I went there to run. John had already gone out and we ran into each other on the road. he took me to this cool trail to run on and it was beautiful.

My brother loves to paddle and has a garage full of boats. So, we took out a kayak and a canoe and walked them across the street to put in the water. John jumped at the chance to use the kayak, as opposed to being stuck in a canoe with Burne and myself. So, we were in the canoe with very little collective experience steering and the canoe was soft on the outside, which didn't feel all that stable.

We got better the longer we canoed and saw many lily pads, complete with beautiful flowers.

We paddled to Lake Monona where the water was very, very, choppy. I told the boys that since I didn't want to tip over in the canoe, that we should just head on back.

So, covered in mud and what looked like sea weed, (river weed?) we paddled back to my brother's house.

We were all starving so we rode our bikes to a place called, Brasserie V. It is owned by a guy who graduated from high school with my brother and the food and drinks are soooooo good.

Coadster and her boyfriend made it into town and we all had a really good lunch.

John is apparently a very patriotic, kitty.

We headed home, took a little nap and then got on our mountain bikes and rode to Quarry Ridge. It's a little mountain bike trail system right outside of Madison. They did an excellent job of using all of the room they have. They had some crazy technical stuff, I couldn't ride, but also, some nice flowy single track.

Here is John pointing to a ramp that I will never, ever ride.

I walked this downhill the whole way the first time I rode it and only walked halfway the second time I rode it. I might have had to try it 57, 000 times in order to figure out how to go down those first big chunks, though.

We rode home, took showers, and then headed downtown to forage for food. We found a place to eat and had a nice meal. Stinky and her boyfriend got into town and joined us. Burne's cousin also showed up. He was a really nice guy and fun to talk to.

We ended the night at a little dive bar, with very few people in it, where they were showing "The Goonies". Stinky was in hog heaven. We still had two days left and I felt like we had done so much already.

Monday, July 18, 2016

And the Complication You Could do Without

Okay. So, remember how I said I got some weird news on Friday before we went to Clear Lake? Well, here's the deal with it:

On Friday I went in for my mammogram. The woman doing my mammogram said, "Wow. You have really dense breasts." and I said,

"I know. I try to do self-breast exams and everything feels like cancer..." Which is really true, and scary as hell.

They did my mammogram and asked me to sit in the waiting room, since I've had to have second views done in the past. They did call me back to take more views and then the doctor pulled me in a room and the tech asked if some students could observe and get some experience. I said, yes. The doctor told me that I had calcifications in my left breast. He explained that it was very common for "women my age" (read: old) to have calcifications, and that usually they aren't anything to worry about, BUT there are three different kinds, clearly benign, suspicious and malignant. Mine were suspicious. Hell, I'm suspicious of most things in general, why shouldn't my calcifications be too? He said that I need to have a biopsy. That it didn't have to be right away, because these things, even if they were malignant, would be VERY early stages of cancer. So, in my head, I took that to mean that even the worst case scenario was pretty damn good. But I was still scared and upset and those students got to experience watching me cry.

My wonderful radiology tech told me they had an opening on Monday if I wanted to get the biopsy over with. Did I ever. 

I went in at 1 o'clock on Monday and talked to a doctor and then the rad tech talked me through the procedure. I had met her before. She was a friend of my ex-husband's friend. I reminded her about the last time she helped with my mammogram and how I passed-out. As many of you know, I pass-out. I pass-out, I pass-out, I pass-out. For whatever reason. I always have. My vasovagal responds very well, thank you very much. She said, "Oh, I remember you. I have an assistant here to help talk to you and take  your mind off of it, so you don't pass-out on us again."

Basically, I had to sit in a chair with my breast clamped firmly and painfully in place, while they took about 75 mammograms to make sure they could find the calcifications, then they try to suck out samples, so they can send them to pathology and see if they are cancerous. Then, they have to put a titanium marker where the calcifications were, so they can go back in and get everything else out if they are malignant, or watch it closely if they aren't, just to make sure they don't get crazy and start growing more in the future. The literature said it shouldn't set-off a metal detector, so I didn't have to worry about foreplay pat-downs at airports. Damn.

The staff was incredible. They kept checking to make sure I was okay during the procedure and I did pretty well. They were happy they got out what they needed. But between the teaching and the many views they needed to take, I was sitting up, with my breast clamped tightly for almost an  hour, Imagine an hour long mammogram? Yeah....Anyway, before they could try to put the clip in, I could feel myself getting the silver spots. I told them I was starting to pass-out. The techs all ran over. One gave me smelling salts, (I'd never had those before, but they didn't seem to work on me) one rubbed my back and the other ran to grab a bin, because I felt like I was going to puke too. Next thing I knew, I thought I was waking up and late for work. I then realized that I was really in the clinic and there were now 5 techs assisting me and I was being leaned WAAAAY back in my chair. My first thought was, "Oh crap. My legs are in the air and I'm wearing a skirt. Did I wear some decent underwear at least? How sad that through all of it, THAT was my first thought? Anyway, they all were wonderful and helpful and I was duly embarrassed. The doctor had to go and do another biopsy and would be back, because they still didn't get that tag inserted. Sigh.

I was afraid that they would have to put me back in the mammo clamp, but this time, they could use an ultrasound and I wouldn't have to be clamped and I could lie down for it. This time it was much better and they got the marker in about 2 cm away from where the calcifications are/were and  three and a half hours after they started, they sent me on my way.

Once I got home, I had to cry it out a little. I know at least with this, it won't be half as bad as other women with way worse cancer, but the whole idea of it and the painful procedure and the fact that I had no idea what the result would be and I was still shaky from passing-out and if they came back malignant, the next doctor I spoke to would be an oncologist and what if, and I'm scared, and so I cried/vented to myself.

I had a woman tell me that I shouldn't worry about my results because I'm so healthy and surely I wouldn't have cancer and I reminded her that babies and little kids got cancer. Cancer isn't a punishment for unhealthy behavior - that's more like jail time, or syphilis. I might get cancer just because I wasn't very lucky.

Soooo. they told me to expect the results for my biopsy on Thursday or Friday. That didn't happen. At first, I was bummed. I would rather know either way, than to create all kinds of scary scenarios in my head (one of my worst "gifts"), but now I'm glad because my birthday weekend was purely perfect and it was nice NOT to have a dark cloud hanging over it.

This morning I called the receptionist, because I got an email telling me to check my chart and my chart only had one word in it that was different than the general description of my procedure, "abnormal". My first thought was, "Abby Normal" from "Young Frankenstein", but it wasn't all that funny. The receptionist said she didn't have results yet, but she would have a doctor call me when they came in.

Just so you know, probably the very worst place you can be when you get bad results, is at work. Lucky for me, my co-workers are funny, salty, women around my age and I couldn't ask for better support there. I was crying after the doctor told me my cells were malignant. She did tell me that it was very early and that  was good, but she didn't say much else. My co-workers told me to go home, and I was glad that I did, because soon after, I was sitting on my porch trying to process it, when a nurse/savior called me and talked me through everything. She said that if I HAD to have cancer, this was the best kind. It was treatable. I would probably need a lumpectomy and some radiation, but I would know for sure after I had a consult with the surgeon, which we scheduled for Friday morning. I was a little embarrassed, but I asked her if it was okay for me to do RAGBRAI next week. She told me, "Definitely. Do RAGBRAI. Have fun. Get a sunburn." I said, "Maybe the skin cancer will take away from the stress of my breast cancer..."Har har.

John has been amazing through all of this. He came home early today and we hugged and cried together and then he just kept asking how he could help. I was mostly worried about having to tell my girls. They are so sweet and empathetic, I didn't want to make them sad or worry them. 

Right now. I keep thinking how damn lucky I am. This will probably be painful and uncomfortable and I'm sure I won't always have the best attitude during this process, but I have incredible support. John, my girls, my family and friends and co-workers are the best I could ask for. It's true about what they say - don't waste time on people who aren't there for you and what you'll have left is an incredible family - both by blood and by choice. In that regard, I have it all..

So, what else I have right now is a lot of hope and support and an inappropriate sense of humor. I'm hoping it gets me through the hard parts...

Thursday, July 14, 2016

I Said Good Gracious, Can This be My Luck

My garden looks so much better in person...

Soooooooo. I've had a rough week. I'll write more about that later. But now, I get to get off work early and head to Madison, where we can stay at my brother's house for free. Our friend Burne will meet us there tonight. There is a Cajun/Blues/Zydeco music festival that is also free. We are bringing our road bikes and mountain bikes. My brother lives across the street from the arboretum, so there are great running trails and he has kayaks and canoes that we can just walk across the street and put them in water and either paddle left to Lake Monona or right to Lake Wingra. We also found some mountain bike trails that we can ride our bikes on townie trails to get to and then ride single track and then ride back to my brother's house. Both my girls will meet us there on Friday and Coadster's boyfriend is coming too. They won't be riding their bikes, but they will meet us by car in New Glarus on Saturday when we ride there. We'll have lunch there and do a brewery tour before heading back to Madison. We'll do my birthday dinner on Saturday night with, hopefully, my sister (if I can get hold of her. Never uses a cell phone, only her landline and her answering machine is completely full, so can't leave a message. Such a '90's situation...), my sister-in-law's mom (who is probably more fun than all of us put together), my girls, Coadster's boyfriend, John and Burne at a place called Hop Cat. It's supposed to have great food and beer. There is a good chance of rain on Sunday, so we might just stop and play around underground at Cave of the Mounds on the way home.

Let's see...Family, John, our friend, Burne, food, bikes, boats, beer, cheese curds, caves, Cajun music, running and playing and playing and playing. I can't wait!

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

We Will Find You Acting on Your Best Behavior

Butterflies and moths love the Marigolds in our garden, hopefully the bugs and bunnies don't love them as much.

Hey! Since it's almost the middle of the month, I thought I might finally look at last month's stats. last month was kind of weird for me. Partly, because I actually got some house projects done, but also, I was recovering from being sick so much the month before and finally because I didn't read many books. I'll try to make up for that this month.

Miles Run: 42.5. I hope to get more miles in this month...

Miles Biked: 520. I FINALLY got some miles in this Summer. TOMROV definitely helped with that.

Miles Paddles: 8. I would like to start doing more and more of this as the years go on.

Races Done: 1. Yea!

Places Traveled to by car: 2. Maquoketa, Ia. for the adventure race and Bettendorf, Ia. to start TOMROV.

Towns Biked to: Many towns up and down the Mississippi River from Bettendorf to Galena and from Dubuque to Bettendorf. Riverside, Ia, Sutliff, Ia., and Solon, Ia.

Blog Posts Written: 14.

Books Read: 3. THREE!? That might be an all-time low. I blame it on the fact that I tried to read a 600 page historical novel in the Summer. I know better. I save those Russian novels and British Novels about the Tudor family for Winter, when what little attention span I have is available. So, the 3 books I read: 1. "All My Puny Sorrows" by Miriam Toews - such a great read. 2. "J" by Howard Jacobson. 3. "Wolf Hall", by Hilary Mantel.

House Projects - Woo hoo! I finally get to write something here besides "maybe next month". We got the popcorn ceiling scraped off and have started patching the ceiling. Outdoor projects include all the gardening and mowing and weeding. I still need to work on the backyard landscaping project I started a few years ago....Next month!

Drawing/Paintings - Nope.

Writing Projects - I don't have anything down on paper yet, but I have a lot going on in my brain right now...And if that doesn't scare you, nothing will.

Monday, July 11, 2016

It's in the Air Tonight. It's a Free For All.

So, last weekend we went to Clear Lake, Iowa for some bike racing. It's a beautiful little town and the bike races are VERY well organized. It's one of our favorite races of the year, and as it happened this Summer, it was our ONLY road racing of the year.

I had some weird news on Friday morning, so I was happy to get out of town that afternoon. We rented a cute little house about a half a block from the lake and a block from the criterium course. Perfect. We also are trying to be better at spending less money on these weekends. We had a full kitchen and bought a quiche from the co-op that we had for breakfast both mornings and stuff for sandwiches for lunch. We each took one night to buy dinner for us and we didn't drink much alcohol, so we did sooooo much better.

We headed downtown to get our numbers and sat and watched a little of the Blues part of the Bicycles, Blues and BBQ Festival. We never stay up late to hear the headliners, but the early bands all seem to be a bunch of white people singing Lynyrd Skynyrd covers. So, I'm hoping the later bands are better...

We went for dinner at a place called, Sips which has great food, and I had my Moscow Mule there. It's a nice little place about a block away from the house where we stayed.

We went down the street and sat on the dock by our rental house and it was GORGEOUS. We watched the boats and the water skiiers.

And, of course, I had my own favorite view...

The sun set and we headed back to our house and went to bed. I was hoping to NOT have a migraine the next morning and I got lucky. No migraine. I signed-up for the time trial. I did a nice warm-up and thought I had more time before I was supposed to go off than I did. That's right. I was almost two minutes late for my race. They are timed, so I could at least figure out how fast I went, minus the time that I started late. Derrrr. I went off and was going WAY too fast, trying to catch up to where I should have been, so I made myself slow down before I blew up. I got my speed at a comfortable place for me and felt pretty good all the way back. the fact that I had 2 minutes added to my time, meant that I was dead ass last, but even if I had my real time, I would have been second from last. The woman who won averaged 24.5 miles per hour. For the beginner category, that is pretty damn fast. Also, I haven't been riding hard, all Summer, so it was a good reminder of how much faster I need to be training for Cyclocross season.

After the time trial, we went home and took a nap and had lunch and then headed to the Criterium.

John got called-up to tow the line earlier than the rest of the field, because he got 2nd in his category for the time trial. The guy who won it was the former world pursuit champion and had just lapped pretty much the whole field in the 40+ criterium and was going to lap almost the whole field in the 50+ criterium. I told John he should feel great about his time.

John had a good start in the criterium.

He said he felt the same way I did after not racing or training all Summer. He was able to stay with the pack, but didn't have it to compete for the sprint. he still got 8th out of over 30 plus riders, and I would have been thrilled with that.

I loved the gardens all over the course.

And, apparently, even the strollers had race numbers on them.

Check out the incredible views...

After the race, we walked back to our place and got our swimsuits on and went for a dip in the lake. I have no idea why we have never thought to do that before, but nothing helps your legs feel better than getting in the water and swimming around. it really cooled us down after being outside in the sun all day.

We got back in time to watch the women's race and Whoa Doggies! did those women ride fast. There weren't any riders off the front that can slow the pack down , with cyclists sitting up on their bikes to let their teammates break away. This was pure carnage. I saw some really strong riders get shredded at the beginning of the race. It wasn't until the third to the last lap that one of the women broke away and stayed away, to win the race. I was in awe of these women.

The next morning, it was storming, which meant I had a migraine. There was no chance of rain, until there was a thunderstorm that wasn't going to end before our road race. We had already decided not to race, when they canceled it anyway. We drove home and had the afternoon to take care of things around the house.

It was a very lovely trip.

Thursday, July 07, 2016

You're on the Road, but You've Got No Destination

I was going to write this yesterday, but there was a big, ugly storm here the night before and we lost our power at 3'ish am and it didn't come back on until 6:30 yesterday evening. So, day late and always more than a dollar short.

Anyway, this will be mostly a photo post. Sunday and Monday of the holiday weekend were wonderful. The weather was mostly cloudy and cool and perfect for riding bikes.

We headed to Kalona because the Weather Channel said the winds were ESE. The Weather Channel was wrong, but it was okay. I didn't think the winds were bad any way they blew.

I love this ride, because it goes through Amish country and it's just really beautiful. We had a great ride and got to the dirt roads, which were fine, but then as I was shifting to my easiest gear up a big hill, my chain went off the tracks and got jammed. The boys tried everything and they couldn't even get one link free. Our friend Lisa's husband was going to meet us in Kalona with their son and he works at World of Bikes on and off, so she thought he might have his tools with him. He didn't and they were already on their way to meet us. I was a little sad that I might not be able to finish the ride, right as John had miraculously freed my chain and got my bike working just fine again. Hooray!

We made it to the Kalona Brew Pub, ate great food and then played some bags with Lisa's 7 year old son.

He also took a break to play Mine Craft with our friend Rob, who might just be a little bit of an expert.

We headed home through Sharon Center.

We had to wonder just exactly how big the Sharon Center Independence Day Parade is. The town is basically an intersection...

After we got home, John furiously cleaned our house, while I went to the store and started making dinner. Our friends from the ride came over and we had a great dinner of enchiladas and mojitos and them everyone else headed downtown to Jazzfest and the fireworks and John and I went to bed.

On Sunday I was going to try to do a trail run in the morning, but I was tired, my legs were shredded and I just didn't feel it. So, I read my book instead and then mowed the lawn and did some weeding in my garden, but, as usual, not nearly enough weeding.

We had planned to meet some of our friends at the Sugarbottom trails at 1 and ride some mountain bikes. Neither of them had ridden in a while and one of them had broken both of his wrists on those trails, so they were both hurting a little and only taking the green trails. no one gets that more than me.

One of the guys actually helped build those trails originally, so it was interesting to hear what they used to be like, and he really loved some of the newer trails he had never ridden before.

I know I've told you that we normally do a Monday night ride with our friends to Old 218 Tap. It's an easy, flat 20 mile ride that is perfect to get our friends who don't ride all that often, out on their bikes. The Tap is usually closed on  holidays and most of our friends seemed to be going to different Fourth of July festivities, so we didn't think there would be a ride that night. One of our friends posted in our ride group site asking if we'd ride. We decided, what the hell. Our friend Burne was up for it, so we rode to 30Hop in Coralville.

They made some cool trails on a floodplain behind the Marriott Hotel.

There were fun sculptures and fountains for photo ops and it is kind of fun to ride on the metal paths on bikes.

We finally made it to 30Hop and sat on the rooftop deck for a beeer before we went downstairs for dinner.

The food and the service were excellent. We had a lovely bike ride home and fell asleep the second my head hit the pillow. The sign of a perfect, long, weekend.

Tuesday, July 05, 2016

From the Park I hear Rhythms

Remember how last weekend I felt like I was being thwarted at every turn? Well, this weekend was the opposite.

Last week when John and I were talking about the fact that we had absolutely  no plans for the three day weekend, John said, "We can get a lot of projects done around the house..." at the same time I said, "We can go on so many fun bike rides!" Guess who won that one...

That's right. I did.

On Saturday, we met a bunch of our friends we do RAGBRAI with. Many of them have ridden very little this year, and RAGBRAI is coming right up. We thought we could ride to Cedar Rapids and get about 65 miles in that day.

We decided to go to Czech Village in Cedar Rapids, because we would be able to take the bike path for part of it.

We rode to Ely, where the path begins and it is crazy (read: wonderful) how much bike traffic there is in that little town. The bar Odie's has tons of business because of the bike path. We stopped at Odie's on our way to Cedar Rapids. I can't drink like many of the others in my group, so I had a Coke and we watched some "Shark Week" before we headed off for the last part of our journey.

We hit Cedar Rapids and they were having Freedom Fest there. It seemed like the whole town was out and playing and there were still tons of cyclists. Yea! We stopped to play some frisbee and we found out our friend Marco had never thrown a frisbee before. What?! We soon rectified that and he said he thought it was a lot of fun.

Cedar Rapids is a lot like Des Moines in the fact that they have changed their town so much for the better. It used to just be the city of 5 smells but now they are known for better culture and bike paths and new and interesting places to eat and drink.

We chose the New Bo Ale House to eat lunch. It used to be a bank, so the building itself was really cute. We checked out the outdoor eating space and there were many tables open. It seemed perfect. Sadly, the service was HORRIBLE. I have talked to other people since then, and they said they had the same experience. it's too bad, because it could be such a great place.

When we got there, they told us there would be a 30 minute wait to be seated. I'm sure I looked a little puzzled, because the hostess then said, " I know it looks like there are a lot of open tables, but we have a group of 11 coming." Okay, that accounts for 2 tables....The other, nicer hostess told us we could wait in the beer garden and have a drink until we got seated. The original hostess told us that we could NOT sit down at the bar, even though there were plenty of seats. We sat down at the bar anyway. What the hell? Why did we have to stand when there were plenty of places to sit and we were going to be spending plenty of money there. It was bizarre. I can't imagine that any of us will ever go there again. It took us over 2 hours to get seated and get our food. Sigh.

The ride back was more than fine. The high for the day was 69 degrees. In Iowa? On July 4th weekend? I have never seen that before.

We stopped at Big Grove on the way home. I had a lemonade and we all had a good talk.

My friend, Burne told me I had to go up and imitate the Rosie the Riveter chalk drawing So, even though I looked plenty the worse for wear after our long ride, I made the weird face she was making and put my arm up. Super dork!

We got home and had leftover stuffed zucchini for dinner and after being outside for about 10 hours, we basically passed-out on the couch by about 9 o'clock. Whew! We still had two days of holiday weekend left...