Thursday, December 22, 2016

Christmas is coming. The Geese are Getting Fat...

So, we had another, wonderful, weekend. It was so nice and mellow, which doesn't make for an exciting blog post, but was just what I needed.

Originally, we were going to go to Wisconsin for a bike race, but John got injured and I wasn't all that strong. Plus, it being the weekend before Christmas, it didn't seem like the best idea. So, we stayed home and because it snowed so much and the wind chills were so ridiculously low, we were very glad we did.

What did we do instead? Not a hell of a whole lot.

On Saturday, I woke-up, read my book and drank tea, and went for a 5 mile run in the snow and slippery sidewalks. It wasn't horribly cold then, so it was a nice little run.

John went swimming laps, but I wasn't feeling super strong, so I stayed home and tidied up around the house a little.

It was a wonderful day. I made tempeh reubens and heated up soup for dinner and we watched the movie, "Hunt for the Wilder People", which was really good, if you like quirky New Zealand films.

On Sunday we swam laps and spent some time in the spa at the rec services building. Then we went to Kalona to meet some friends for lunch. Our friend Burne let me borrow his I-pass for our trip to DC. It's supposed to make life so much easier on the toll roads.

So, after our nice mellow weekend, my girls and I are going on a fun (hopefully) road trip to Washington DC tomorrow. I've got snacks and drinks and blankets and it looks like we''l be running from a Winter storm for most of tomorrow...

I'm just excited to take a trip over Christmas with my girls. I haven't been in a big city at Christmas since I lived in San Francisco in 1988. I will have John's laptop to use while we're gone, but I don't know if I'll have time to post. Apparently, there's a ton of stuff to do in our nation's capital. Luckily, the Trumps won't be there yet to defile everything yet. We'll get there just in the nick of time.

So, if I don't get a chance to blog, Happy Holdays! Have fun with whatever you celebrate and if you don't celebrate any holidays, I hope you get a couple of days off work out of the deal.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Yes, We Need a Little Christmas. Right This Very Minute.

The Stinky youngest kid and her stinky pup all bundled up for the cold.
Sooo, things are always so weird and usually wonderful in my world. Now, that it's Winter, there are ever more funky little things that I try to take note of. Yesterday, I was riding my bike home in the snow, when another bike commuter came upon me and asked, "So, you running full studs?" I wanted to say, "Of course. I love full studs!", but instead I said, "Yeah. It sure makes my bike heavy, but they're great on the ice." The conversations you have with bicycle geeks...

The other weird Winter thing that happened last week was during the bitter cold, my battery died. Which isn't all that unusual, even with a 4 year old car, because I don't drive it all that much. Sooo, after work last Thursday when it had warmed up to almost 20 degrees, we tried to get it started again. When it didn't go, we had to push it out into the street to try and jump it with John's car. Of course, it was a cold and annoying process. During the middle of this, we noticed two deer crossing the street into the park. One was an 8 point buck, so he was hard to miss...There was also a car that stopped in the middle of our street, so as not to hit said deer. Then they started to drive very slowly past our house. They pulled into the alley, stopped their car. and a mother and her 10'ish year old looking son got out. They walked over and put their hands on the front of my car to help John push it, while I tried to steer it without getting it stuck in the snow on either side of the driveway. Man, it went a lot more quickly with two other people helping.

How nice was that? And what a great kid to help us out when he probably would rather be playing a game on his phone.

Anyway, we finally got the battery charged up and then John drove the car to small towns on the highway to keep its charge. I was made aware once again of how great people can be. Merry Christmas to me.

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Little, Darling, It's Been a Long, Cold, Lonely, Winter

Well, shit, kids. It's been a cold week around here. It was finals, which means all the students are leaving town and it will be nice and quiet around Iowa City for the next month. I'm okay with that.

I don't know if you live where it gets this cold and if you do, if you get outside as often as possible, but, man, it can be tough to make yourself get out in it. There is so much planning and clothes gathering and gear remembering and inside of your nostrils freezing.

I did just say, screw it a couple of days and I don't feel badly at all about it. I drove my car to work and back two or three times last week. I only ran outside 3 times this week, but at least I got out a majority of the days when the windchills were well below zero.

We have a couple more days of this ridiculousness, before we get back to it being all toasty and warm in the 20's and 30's. Woo hoo!

Until that time, I will be sure to head upstairs to my reading room, turn on the fake fireplace and use the animals for warmth. At least they're good for something...

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

I've Been Held Back by Something, Yeah. You Said to me Quietly on the Stairs

This weekend started on a high note...That tubas played. Once a year at Christmas time, tubas come to the campus and play Christmas music and it is lovely. So, that was my lunch last Friday.

Getting home from work and eating veggie tamales, black beans and rice for dinner and watching the movie "Chef" was also great. I thought the weekend could only get better, right?

Wrong. I woke up on Saturday with a (not so) lovely migraine that continued on into Sunday. Which left John to carry the load around the house...And judging by the size of the cat, that is one big job. Poor John.

It snowed some of the weekend and the temps were bearable, and I knew they weren't going to stay that way once we hit the week days. Sigh. So, my plans for running and swimming laps and doing a towny bike ride in the snow on my mountain bike, all went to shit.

What did I do instead? I gave myself a "Get Out of Jail Free Card" for the weekend and read a novel,  watched some movies, made a bunch of food, made a playlist for our DC roadtrip we're going to take next Friday, harassed cats and the grand puppy, watched professional cyclocross on TV and posted stupid crap on FB. I call that a full weekend when you have a migraine...

We did watch a Christmas movie on Saturday night. "Christmas in Connecticut" is so wonderfully cheesy and bizarre. I try to watch that and "The Desk Set" almost every year.

Archie did help with the entertainment part of the weekend. Bike racing is so much more fun to watch with a gigantic cat on the race course. Look out!

We also got to watch one of the grand puppies on Sunday. We took him for a walk in the snow where he flipped his shit over a blow-up snowman. Apparently, he prefers the real thing?

Anyway, this weekend ended up being okay, since I didn't try to push myself to do anything too hard and just let myself relax and get better. Plus, it's almost impossible to get bored when you have pets to entertain you...

Thursday, December 08, 2016

They Say That Things Just Cannot Grow, Beneath the Winter Snow.

It was even colder this morning, but I chilled-out, literally and figuratively and gave myself some slack. My expectations were that I wouldn't try and get up and run. I'd sleep-in an extra hour and if I could get my shit together, I'd bundle up and ride my bike to work, and if I couldn't I'd drive and it would all be fine.

Of course, leaving the gigantic, orange, lump all covered up with the eider down and snoring away in my bed, wasn't motivating me to go out and ride my bike to work, but I did it anyway. Yea, me!

 I am very lucky to have a nice, steel frame, commuter bike and wonderful boyfriend who puts my studded tires on it every Winter and switches them out for regular knobbies in the Spring. I am also lucky to be able to afford good, Winter clothes. When my girls were younger and I had no money, I had a 1960's 3-speed where only the hardest gear worked. It was nice and heavy, but I couldn't afford good tires on it and I didn't have warm enough clothes. I also couldn't afford to pay to park in a ramp anywhere near the hospital where I worked.

One Winter day I was riding to work in below zero weather. At some point, the hat I was wearing inched up over my ears. It was only about a half mile from where that happened until I reached the hospital, but the tips of my ears felt a little weird, and then one of my co-workers came up to me and asked, "What the hell is wrong with your ears? They're gray!" I went to the bathroom to check it out and yes indeedy, I had mild frostbite on the tips of both my ears.

Another morning I was riding to work on a below zero, every snowy day and I slid out and crashed my bike going down a hill. the handlebar of my bike jammed hard into my thigh and I could barely ride my bike back home to my lair to cry. That time I decided I would call in sick until the weather warmed up past zero.

Sooooo, now I can chose to ride my bike if I want and if I choose to do that, I have all kinds of warm coats, and boots and battery heated gloves and metal studded bike tires. I am one lucky girl.

Wednesday, December 07, 2016

It's Winter. Winter in America

This is what Archie looked like exactly 6 years ago. his head was too big for his body, and now his body's too big for his head.
 I woke in a mood this morning. It was very cold for the first time all year and everything seemed way too overwhelming to me. So, I didn't go running before work, and I didn't ride my bike to work. I just drove and tried hard to be nice to other people, because that makes me feel better in general. So, I let some guy in, who was trying to pull out of a parking lot into a line of traffic and I held the door open for a woman on my way out of the parking garage. I know it's not much, but I hope it at least made their mornings a little better. It's supposed to be even colder tomorrow, so I just need to buck-up and see how I deal with it then.

So, because I'm a lame-ass today, here is a post from on this day seven years ago:

My house was built in 1950. It's full of weird drawers, vents, oddly shaped closets and I just found the coolest skeleton key in one of the built-in drawers that has sent my mind running with all kinds of spooky scenarios about what it could be used for. (to open the gates of hell, perhaps?) On Sunday night, my friend G. came over and we played this game where we wandered around the house and tried to figure out what the hell certain things were supposed to be used for. I really love that about my place. I'm like that with people too. I appreciate the visible signs of aging, scars and especially, laugh lines on faces. Every line tells a story and it's almost always interesting.

There was one huge cupboard/closet thing in particular that I couldn't figure out what to do with. It has pretty thin and not very strong shelves and then in the door there are those metal holders that you find in refrigerators. Most of the people I showed it to, thought it was either another pantry or that those door holders might be for cleaning supplies. Originally, I thought I might use it to store all of my tons of CD's and books, but then I had to be realistic and admit that the shelves wouldn't be strong enough to hold that much weight. While I was working on unpacking boxes, I came across my art supplies. That closet would be perfect to hold all of our paints, fabric dyes, brushes, clay, inks, sponges and handmade paper. I love having a special place for all of that stuff. Now, I just have to figure out where to put all my books and CD's....

p.s. I realize that I ended an inordinate amount of sentences with prepositions in this post, but I'm in a mood to be grammatically defiant tonight.

Tuesday, December 06, 2016

Well, I Walked Through the Mall and I Walked Up and Down

It was such a nice, mellow, weekend, except for my one (almost) fatal mistake. I really needed it. It was colder out and so we didn't get a longer bike ride in. Since John has been having problems with his lower back and hamstrings, he's been doing a lot of yoga lately. Of course, Archie is ever helpful and his "assistance" had given the cow-cat position a very different look. No wonder John is having back problems...

Archie is checking out his form in the downward cat position.
After I woke-up on Saturday, I had some yogurt, granola and raspberries, drank some tea and read my book. I also got a 6 mile run in, which felt so good and was very necessary, since I had decided to go to the big. scary, maul to buy work pants. Of course, I never go to the mall, and I always forget there are certain times to stay far, far away from it...Like, oh, say, one of the December weekends right before Christmas. So, yeah. I went to the mall and it was horrible, awful and very bad. It was full of very large people in very large groups, walking VERY slowly and if I got all crazy and tried to pass them, I would end up in the center of the walkway, where the dreaded kiosk hawkers were who would try to bully me into getting sprayed with some vile scent. Shudder, shudder.

You'll all be happy to know that I made it home okay and into the sharp claws of the cats. I did a little bit of cleaning and cooking and it was such a comfort after my harrowing pre-Christmas mall experience. We swam laps at the rec services building before we went home and ate dinner.

We finished the night off with a movie. "Forbidden Planet" is a 1957 movie with Leslie Nielsen and Walter Pidgeon. It was one of the first sci-fi movies that takes place entirely in outer space. It is cheesy as hell and I really loved it. Shocker.

I woke up to snow on Sunday. It wasn't super cold, so it was the heavy, slushy snow. I ran 5 miles in it and it made me happy. We swam laps later in the day and then our friend, Rob came over for a bit in the evening.

As far as weekends go, we didn't get a hell of a lot done, but it was perfect for me...All except for the damn mall...And the yoga doing cats.

Monday, December 05, 2016

My Heart is Dancin' to a November Tune.

Well, it's December already and we got our first snow this weekend. It seems like as good a time as any to do my monthly stats. This month wasn't as productive as last month by any means, but we can't have red letter months all the time...

Miles Biked: 302! It was a damn fine November for cycling.

Running Miles: 62. Meh.

Swimming Miles: 3. I've finally added swimming to my training repertoire. It's been a while...

Books Read: 6. 1) "Dragonfish" by Vu Tran. 2) "Under the Wide and Starry Sky" by Nancy Horan. 3) "Delicious Foods" by James Hannaham. 4) "Thirty Girls" by Susan Minot. 5) "The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time" by Mark Haddon. 6) "A Tale for the Time Being" by Ruth Ozeki. Out of all the books I read last month, I liked a "Tale for the Time Being" best.

Blog Posts Written: Only 8.

House Projects Started/Competed: None.

Races: Two. Sadly, that's probably the most racing I've done in one month this whole year. I did a cyclocross race in Cedar Rapids and a trail running race in my own backyard - Hickory Hill Park.

Soooo, not super productive this month, but I got to do so many more bike rides than I thought I would and I rode 5 of my 6 bikes this month. Again, how I always look at things is if I died tonight, what would I be happier that I accomplished, lots of projects or many fun adventures and bike rides. The answer is always the latter.

Friday, December 02, 2016

I'm Losing, Losing Touch With My Mind. I'm Fallin', Fallin' Way Behind.

It's Friday and so I will show you a photo of my gigantic cat and his gigantic whiskers. Behold the glory.
If you know me at all, you understand just how spacey I am. It was one of the first things I heard the girls talking about me behind my back about, when they got to that age. You know that age...When they're babies and toddlers, you are their world, they feel like they are still a part of you and they think you are beautiful and love you blindly. Then they get to whatever age that is where they understand that not only are they not part of you, they actually find you really annoying. Whatever. So, I overheard my daughters' conversation and it sounded something like this:

Coadster: It's not like she's stupid...

Stinky: No. It's more that she's really spacey.

Coadster: Yes! That's it.

Again, I say, "Whatever." I am who I am, and compared to a lot of parents, my spaciness is the least of a kid's worries.

That having been said...Now that I'm perimenopausal or possibly have early onset dementia (because that is seriously what it feels like), my spaciness knows no bounds. I am losing so many things. Granted, some of it is because I have absolutely no organizational skills, nor am I working on acquiring any. We have a spare bedroom that is essentially a gigantic closet of our techy/bike/run/swim/outdoorWinter clothes, and both John's and my clothes get mixed up together too, so it should come as no surprise that I have lost so many things in the last 6 months. Anyway, just so you can see what I'm talking about, here is a list of things I can't seem to find in my own  home these days:

1. My Red Shamrock techy t-shirt. I can find John's, but not mine.
2. All except one of the several neck gators we have.
3. My black shirt that I wear at least once a week to work. it's one of the few halfway dressy enough clothes to wear at the office.
4. My favorite pair of black running shorts that I just bought this Summer (sigh).
5. Any number of assorted pairs of socks.
6. My aluminum free deodorant.
7. 50 pairs (roughly) of reading glasses.
8. About 100 more things that I've forgotten.

Yes, I can repurchase many of these things, but where the hell do they all go? Do the cats hide them? If I clean behind the couches or under the beds, will I find them in a pile of their hair and toys? Are the elves coming at night when I'm asleep to quickly drive me insane(er)? Are they all in an alternate universe where the me who lives there has lost all of the things that I still have? I'm at a loss.

I try to reassure myself that this extreme spaciness is par for the course and when I read about the symptoms of perimenopause, the one symptom that all women in every culture around the world complained about, was this spacey, forgetfulness. So, who knows? Maybe in the next couple of years when I emerge fully into menopause and my head clears, all of these things will be found and I will suddenly be organized, even though I've never been that way in my entire life and I will be smarter, and as funny as I think I am and rich and I'll find the cure for cancer AND the common cold, while I'm at it. I have so much to look forward to...

Thursday, December 01, 2016

Every Day Feels Like Sunday, Baby. Every Day Feels So Good.

This post will basically be a photo essay of my wonderful 4 day weekend.

Every Thanksgiving for the last few years, we have run the local trail race. This year, John was injured and wasn't able to do it, but I ran it, albeit very slowly, but it was a great time. I love the people who run the race and I love getting 4 miles of trail running in before I (over) eat Thanksgiving dinner.

This year Thanksgiving was super chill. John didn't want to clean the house for anyone, so we didn't invite people over except for Stinky and her boyfriend and our friend, Burne. Of course, we ended up cleaning anyway. Both Burne and Stinky didn't make it over until after dinner, so John and I had all the food to ourselves. I try to make a different veggie every year and this year I made marinated beets with bleu cheese crumbles. Some people would absolutely hate it, but that is one of my favorite food combinations,

Since our guests came late, we decided to make fun margaritas to have with our pumpkin cheesecake dessert, It was a smashing idea.

One of my many dilemmas is the whole, outside versus inside one. I love to go outside and play, but I also love the comforts of home and reading and watching movies and listening to music and spanking cats.

...And as you can see, the cats need that discipline. So, for the four day weekend, I tried to balance indoor comfort, with outdoor playing. I'm not sure how well I did, but I definitely tried...

We also tried to balance some alone time, with social time. On Friday, my friend Erika asked us if we could me her, her boyfriend and some of her friends at The Dublin Underground for a beer after the Hawkeye football game. We swam laps, ate some Thanksgiving leftovers and headed downtown. We are so old that it has been probably years since we were downtown after a football game and being there reminded me why - I am clearly too old and too cranky to deal with stupid, drunk college kids. I've known that for a while, but being around them all again, was a memory refresher.

We did stop at Micky's on our way back to our car, because Stinky was working a double and we thought we'd go give her a hard time...You know, so she appreciates her job more after we're gone and no one is harassing her.

On Saturday, we hung out in our clean home and read books and drank tea or coffee and just relaxed before John and I went on our 50 mile bike ride. Coadster was in town for a one afternoon visit, so she and Stinky met us at the Kalona Brewery. We had a lovely lunch and we tipped Coadster off about the Millstream root beer that they have on tap. So delicious.

Saturday night we stayed home and watched the movie, "Captain Fantastic". It had a few issues, but for the most part, I thought it was an interesting look at what you deal with if you try to raise your kids off the grid.

We mountain biked again on Sunday. Our friend Burne joined us and we got almost two hours in before the rain started.

Since it was about 1 o;clock, we decided to get lunch at Big Grove, before heading home. It was our last weekend afternoon, and we wanted to stretch it out as long as possible.

Soooo, we had 4 days, with a clean house, great food, we played outside every day, we got to hang out with friends and my girls, I got some alone time to read books in my lovely reading room and I felt like we had a pretty good balance of essential activities...Although, I was EXHAUSTED by Sunday night.