Thursday, March 29, 2018

You Can Count Your Blessings, I'll Count on Blue

The other thing we did last weekend, was work on painting our kitchen. With the "help" of our fat orange cat. Archie was upset that we were looking at the walls instead of him, and at one point he got up on the cupboard of love and tried to swat the paint brush (since it must have been clear to him that I was playing?). I tried to grab him and wipe the paint off his paw so he wouldn't lick all of those chemicals, but he wriggled away and almost fell off his perch. Needless to say, by Sunday, Archie was banished to the laundry room and the paint went much faster.

Now I will show you photos of vaguely similar paint colors on our kitchen walls. Party!

We have many bad patches on the walls, just like we did on the ceiling. In the process of filling them and sanding before we paint, we have gotten so much better. Now you can barely tell any difference from the patched and non-patched parts.

We went with a warmer "Tidewater" shade of blue, as opposed to the older, colder "Swimming pool" color. Our kitchen is in the Northwest corner of our house, so it needed to be warmed up.

When I first painted the kitchen back in 2009, I had very little money and I had no idea what the hell I was doing and that it mattered to spend more money on better paint. Oops! So, I learned my lesson and we have a little more money, and we get a University discount at Sherwin Williams and what a HUGE difference good spackle and paint make on the walls.

It seems like any time we spend a shit-ton of time on a house project, I want to congratulate us and get all excited, but then I look around and realize we haven't really made much of a dent. Hopefully, in the next month, we'll finish painting the walls, then paint all the trim, also take care of and paint the metal covers to the exhaust and grates, then replace the subfloor and retile the floor and then get a new refrigerator, since our old, leaking, fridge is the reason we have to replace some of our subfloor and then our kitchen will be mostly done...So, then we can start on the bathroom.

Oh, well. When I see these new houses around Iowa City that look the same and have the same color scheme and carpet and design and I look at our 1950's house that is crammed full of interesting potential, as far as I'm concerned, it's all worth it...Most days.

Monday, March 26, 2018

But I Held My Breath and I Kicked My Feet and I Moved My Arms Around

It was even Winter like enough for the cats to snuggle.

Well, kids. I got my third migraine of the year this weekend. Again, it used to be a big deal if I went two weeks without a migraine, so I'm not complaining too much now that I seem to be going at least a month in between brain pain times. It also wasn't a huge shock that I'd get one either. I got a period for the first time in a couple of months (I'm sure everyone is excited to have THAT little kernel of knowledge in their possession) and we had a big weather system coming through. We even had thunder sleet, which is pretty cool.

Anyway, I woke up on Saturday with a migraine and it snowed at least seven inches this weekend. Stupid Iowa. It's weird how now I almost forget how the whole migraine thing works and what it affects. I got a crash course on it that I hope I don't have to use again for at least another month.

What it meant for me is that I didn't run or ride this weekend. I probably could have gone for a run on Sunday, but I've just decided I'm over running on ice and snow until next Fall. So there.

Instead, John and swam laps on Sunday. Usually I swim as a recovery after a ten mile run, so this was the first time in a long time that I swam while I was well rested. Wow! What a difference it made. I felt so strong and I worked on my form and speed and it made me want to swim laps more often and I rarely feel that way. So, I guess we'll see how it goes from here, but it was nice to finally feel strong in the water again.

Also, in the locker room, I saw this sticker. Vegan vandalism. I don't think I've ever seen that before. I guess you never know what you'll see on any given day.

Friday, March 23, 2018

I Said, Jump Into My Fire. Walk Right Into the Flame.

Last night we helped our farmer friend with a prairie burn. The thing above is what we used to start the fire.

The winds were nice and still last night. The year before, the winds were a lot higher and it was scarier to worry about the fire jumping its boundaries.

We also had the "help" of Burne's dog, Lily. She ran and ran and ran some more, until they finally sent her home, so they wouldn't have to worry about her running into the fire. Silly girl.

They say all fire fighters are secretly pyro's, and it might be true with me. I used to fight wild land fires in the 80's, and though I would never want to burn anything that would hurt anyone or anything, I do love to watch shit burn. It's so dangerous and so beautiful, all at the same time.

My job was to wear the Ghostbusters backpack that held water and squirt the fire that jumped to the wrong spot, or that didn't entirely burn out when it should have. Like I said above, it was a pretty easy job this year, with the lighter winds.

It looks so apocalyptic, doesn't it?

We got everything all burned and got home by a little after 9. Now, we have to wash all of our clothes so our house doesn't smell like an eternal campfire.

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Yo, I'll Tell You What I Want, What I Really, Really, Really, Want

My girls in Chicago on St Patrick's Day.

Welp. It was St Patrick's Day this past Saturday. Which meant that my daughters and some of their friends traveled to Chicago for Stinky's bachelorette party for the weekend. Stinky really wanted me to go, but I couldn't get Friday off of work, and the idea of being surrounded by drunk people all weekend with nowhere to hide, made my skin crawl (and reminded me of  holidays with my Uncle's family (my legal guardian) growing up).

Judging from the little bits of video I saw, they went to bars where they first sang along to Abba Songs, then the next bar was bad 80's music, then the place after that was a Spice Girls song (that I still have going through my head. Ugh!), and then finally they were singing along to some hip hop song I'm not cool enough to know the name of. At least they had some kind of progression with their sing-alongs...

Stinky said they all had a good time, but there was a little drama during the weekend. I can't imagine a bunch of twenty somethings hanging out all weekend WITHOUT any drama, so it seems pretty typical.

For John and myself, our St Patrick's Day was much more our old people's speed. At around 6 o'clock, we went the gym and swam laps in a very quiet pool. Then we went to our local bar to eat dinner (during Lent they have crab cake sliders that I apparently can't get enough of) and have a decidedly non-green beer and we were home before 9 o'clock where I read myself to sleep.

I hope you all had a nice St Patrick's Day, however you like to celebrate...Or don't like to. Now, I've ended enough sentences with prepositions for one day. I hope the rest of  your day is more grammatically correct.

Friday, March 16, 2018

Kid, You Better Look Around, How Long Do You Think That You Can Run That Body Down?

Well, kids. I finally threw in the towel. I tried really hard to train for the Hawkeye 25K, but I was thwarted on so many levels. I was sick for almost the entire month of January and then much of February was overflowing with icy sidewalks and then my perimenopausal muscles were so tight, it hurt to walk sometimes, let alone run.

So, I'm pulling the trigger. I'm a little sad about it, but I really don't want to get injured and I think I would make that happen if I tried to run the kind of miles I need to train for the race, and I don't have time for a gradual build-up.

I came to my decision yesterday. Last Saturday I ran 9 miles. It was a nice, flat route from my house to Sand Lake, around it and then back home. I actually felt pretty good through most of it, but I was an idiot. I brought water, but no nourishment. I started to bonk (feel the effects of my lack of food) at around mile 7. I slowed way down and pushed myself to finish the last two miles. My metatarsalgia (a condition that causes the ball of my foot to become inflamed (read:  feel stabby knives under the ball and toes)), was also getting the best of me. I'm happy to say, I ran the whole thing and whatever about it that didn't kill me, made me stranger (who knew that was possible?).

On Sunday I was out of commission. Remember how I used to get migraines once or twice a week for most of my adult life? Yeah, well I think I've taken migraine meds twice this year. Don't get me wrong, I'm thrilled that my migraines have been few and far between the last few months, but on Sunday, I was all drained and dizzy and my stomach was bugging me and my teeth hurt, and it took me about half a day to realize I was a little migrainey. it wasn't bad enough to take meds for, but it did mean, I didn't do one damn things on Sunday, except go to Kalona for a late lunch/early dinner with John and some friends. It also meant I didn't run or ride. I guess I needed a break.

I didn't run again until Wednesday. I was able to get a vacation day then. It was supposed to be in the upper 50's, so it was perfect. I did a 10 mile run. This time, I was smart enough to bring some water, watered down cranberry juice and some peanut butter M & M's. It turned out to be a perfect fueling combination.

I was able to run the full ten miles, it was beautiful, I didn't bonk, but by the last mile and a half, I was dying anyway. My feet hurt and it was very apparent that I was pushing myself to do too many miles too soon.

I tried to run an easy 3.5 mile route last night after work, but my muscles were too tight. Last night I finally called it. I won't be in good enough shape not to hurt myself either before or after the race. I'm sad, because I love that race, but I'm also relieved that the stress is gone. I'm still planning on running six miles tomorrow, but I was going to try and run twelve, and I'm happy not to have that self-imposed pressure on me.

Now, I'm looking forward to running a little less and riding my bike a little more. The balance seems to work for me, now that I'm 52 years old and all.

Thursday, March 15, 2018

I'm Running a Race and You're the Book I Read So

One of my cousins who lives in Hawaii messaged me a couple of weeks ago and told me that he and his wife would love to have us visit them and they even had a free downstairs apartment where we could stay. Sadly, we don't have enough money or vacation time to take them up on their offer to go to Hawaii. Sigh. I started thinking about how I've never really left the continental US before, but I have traveled a lot in my head with the help of the many books I read. I thought I'd try to start doing a segment on the blog of all of the places I travel through literature in a month.

I'm going to start with last month. I read ten books in the month of February and this is where they took me:

1.) I started the month reading "The Underground Railroad" by Colson Whited. It started me off in Georgia and then to South Carolina, North Carolina, Tennessee and Indiana during the 1800's.

2.) The second book I read was "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows" by J. K. Rowling. This book took me across the ocean to England, but not just England, it was magical England. I am so sad that with that book, I finished the series and can never travel to that world for the first time again. Sigh.

3.) My third book this month was "The Count of Monte Cristo" by Andre Dumas. This novel took me to Italy and France in 1815. Wow, what a trip. If you haven't taken it, you should.

4.) The fourth book I read was called "Swimming Lessons" by Claire Fuller. It took place at Dorset Beach, on the Southwest Coast of England. I did need a little beach time this Winter.

5.) Book number five was "As Good As Gone" by Larry Watson. It took me to Montana in the early 1960's.

6.) My sixth book was "The Miniaturist" by Jessie Burton. It takes place in Amsterdam in 1686. I've always wanted to visit Holland, but it sounds like it's way better now than it was back then when the Calvinists were making strict laws and trying to control the population. No thanks. Luckily, it's at least possible for me to visit now when things are better.

7.) "Your Heart is a Muscle the Size of a Fist" by Sunil Yapa was the seventh book I read last month. It took me to Seattle in 1999, during the WTO protests. Again, I'd love to check out Seattle, I'd just rather go now, than when all of that violence and bloodshed occurred.

8.) My eighth novel took place in Yugoslavia, on a train, in 1934. "Murder on the Orient Express" was my first Agatha Christie novel and it was great escapism for a dreary February in Iowa. I'll definitely go back and visit there again.

9) "Why We Run: A Natural History" by Bernd Heinrich was the only non-fiction book I read last month. John has been trying to get me to read it for a couple of years now. It combined running with animal biology, and it was right up my alley. It also took me to Germany, Maine and Chicago, Illinois.

10) The last book I read was "The Starboard Sea",  by Amber Dermont. It took me to a hoity-toity boarding school in Maine in 1987. I don't think I could deal with all of the over privileged, rich people in the book, but I would love to check out Maine...In the Summer, of course.

Sure, I may not be able to travel that much in the real world, but in books, in my head, I can go all over, I don't have to worry about jet lag and the most stressful thing about it, is dealing with the weight of my fat orange cat pressing down on my internal organs as he lies on my stomach.

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Oh Yeah, You're a Strange Stray Cat

Well, it's Spring Break in our fair college town, which means that much of our population gets the entire week off and goes someplace else. What it means for me, is that I get to ride my bike with very little traffic to and from work. I'm also taking tomorrow off, since it's supposed to be 56 degrees here then. As usual, I have a ton of projects I'm going to try to do, but will probably only finish a few of them. I also want to try and get a longer run in if my body lets me. That's always a crap shoot, but not literally, thankfully.

John's pretty, gray haired, green eyed, cat had to go to the vet today to get her rabies shot. She is the dumpster kitty, so she's pretty skittish and things like getting stuffed in a cat carrier and taken to the vet for a shot are probably more traumatic for her than other cats. John emailed me to let me know how it went. This is his account:

"Yeah, she's pretty good at resisting getting in the carrier. Too much practice lately.

She howled all the way to the vet, then got very quiet. On the table she got as small as she could -- think Archie just before a hug. Back in the carrier 5 minutes later and she howled all the way home. 

I took her to the kitchen and opened the carrier and she ran for the bedroom. She was about to dive under the bed, but when I asked nicely she stopped so I could pet her for a second. The vet told her to find a sunny window. I hope she does."

Poor girl. We'll just have to spoil her when we get home tonight.

Saturday, March 10, 2018

Walk Along to Another Day. Work a Little Harder Work Another Way

Before I get started on getting this weekend going, I thought I'd write about last weekend. this will mostly be photos, since I'm in a hurry, but they are pretty cool pictures of some of the things I love most about Iowa city and playing oustide.

Now that I'm not all that fast any more, I like to make my work-outs fun adventures. I started last Saturday with a 7.75 mile run. I wanted to go at least 7 miles, and I was glad that I was able to extend it. My muscles behaved themselves and I didn't have to stop from them tightening up at any point during my run. Yea!

I did go through the Oakland Cemetery and waved to the Black Angel on the way out.

On Sunday I did a five mile run in the morning, and since my bike shifter broke on the way back from our road ride the week before, and it was so windy, John and I just did a fun townie ride on our mountain bikes.

We headed to Sand Lake and played on the beach there.

On the way back, we hung out around the train tracks.

Don't worry,  we didn't go on them at all. There just happens to be a metal sidewalk that we could ride on next to them.

The sun was starting to set, so we headed home.

But not before I got a shot at some of my favorite graffiti on the bridge supports. It was  Knock Out.

We made it back in time to get ready for dinner. I decided to take John on a date to Devotay. It's a tapas bar that has excellent food and margaritas. Ole'!

While we were there, we had one of my new favorite foods. it was a butternut squash souffle' with some kind of delicious strips of hard cheese on top of it and cut up cabbage next to it. I wish I was a better cook, so I could make that at home.

I'm not sure if we'll have as wonderful of a weekend this week, but I'm willing to try my damnedest to get close. May you all have a great couple of days.

Thursday, March 08, 2018

Cool Down. Stop Acting Crazy. They're Gonna Leave and We'll be on Our Own.

I went to my first breast ultrasound on Tuesday. it was waaaay better than a mammogram, but it was still a little uncomfortable and the lotion they put on me was ice cold. I was pretty worried with this test, since it's supposed to be able to see so much more than even a mammogram and the last time they found the tumor, it was very small. After the procedure, the tech told me that they might see things they couldn't see before and want me to come back in to check things out later. Yikes!

Since the clinic I went to was right next to a Trader Joe's, I stopped by there and bought myself some flowers and contemplated buying some Ben and and Jerry's and sitting around watching House Hunters, just to chill out and de-stress. By the time I got home, however, I talked myself into just going for a run instead. Good on me!

I know I've told you that I've been having a problem of tightness in my muscles, so that when I run a lot of times, I have to run and then walk and run and then walk, sometimes throughout the entire run because of this. So, on Tuesday while I was running to relieve stress, I got to Rochester Street and my muscles were starting to tighten up again. I stopped to walk. Right then, a man who must have been running behind me, stopped and asked, "How far are your running?"

"Five miles," I said.

"How far have you gone?"

"Um, like, two?"

"Well, Come on. Let's go." And he signaled for me to start running with him.

"No. I have a problem with my muscles where I have to stop and walk sometimes."

"Oh. So, are you training for anything?" he wanted to know.

"No. I'm just running."

He finally left me alone and went on his way, but what the hell? I'm sure he thought he was being helpful and was going to inspire me to keep running. I don't think he was being creepy at all, but just really invasive. When I told John about it, I said I knew that I was weird about wanting to be left alone in general, and John said, "No. That's weird for anyone. I would be annoyed if somebody came over to me and tried to make me run with them, when I didn't even know them, I can't imagine what it would be like to be a woman and have a guy do that."

"I know. And I'm over 50. I'm supposed to be invisible to men in general. It's one of my favorite parts of getting older...", I said.

I did start running again eventually, and lucky for me, that guy kept a nice distance ahead of me. By the time I had about a half mile left of my run, my phone rang. Normally, I don't answer it if I don't know the person calling, but I took a chance. Lucky for me, it was the nurse who scheduled the breast ultrasound. They told me I wouldn't get results for a day or two, but she had them already. She said that everything looked good. They saw something that was probably a cyst, but it was really small, so they would just monitor it. Yea!

I finally made it home and I was exhausted, not just from the physical act of running, but from all that went on during that 50'ish minutes. Maybe next time, I'll just get the Ben and Jerry's and watch some House Hunters instead. It seems like it would be healthier.

Tuesday, March 06, 2018

What a Drag it is Getting Old

So, like I said last week, I've been going through all of these "older people" issues lately. I know it's all part of the process and I also know the alternative. I am very lucky to get to 52 years old.

It just gets me thinking sometimes. I have a lot more wrinkles and scars and my hair is thinning, and it will never, ever look like it did in the photo above (which might be a good thing...), I can't see or hear very well and I'll never be as strong or as fast as I was in my early forties even. I'm sure if I spent a lot of time dwelling on it all, it could get me down. Instead, I've been working on writing about when I was 19 years old. Seriously, if you EVER want to feel better about getting older, try very hard to remember what it felt like to be 19. What kind of scenarios did you create in your head to stress about? How did you feel about yourself? How much crap did you put up with from other people? What was important to you? You may have been a better, more put together person than I was back then (and who wasn't?), but if you were even close to the kind of messed up I was in 1984, you would be singing the praises of your older person emotions and brain, no matter how rusty, or padded the body was that encased them.

Friday, March 02, 2018

There's a Party in My Mind, And I Hope it Never Stops

So, hey kids. It's been a while. This week has been crazy week, both at work and at home. I don't have a ton of time to write, so I'll keep it quick and simple.

I got to do a real, live, road ride on Sunday. I'm slow and weak and way overweight, but it still felt good to ride 35 miles outside. The next few weeks should be kind of rough for me, physically. I'm trying to get back on the training train and I have soooo far to go. I'm increasing the length and intensity of my work-outs while decreasing my caloric intake. Wish me luck...Or rather, wish John luck. Poor man.

I got bifocals for the first time in my life. I'm sure I needed them years before this, but I finally got them on Tuesday. They still make me dizzy, so I'm gradually getting used to them. We'll see how long that takes...

I had my 6 year and a half after cancer surgery appointment this past week. They don't do much more than a breast exam and ask me invasive questions. But now they want to give me a breast ultrasound every February. It's not supposed to be painful and they promise there isn't any radiation involved, so now I just have to see if my insurance covers it and I'll have another safety net to detect that evil cancer.

Okay. I'm on the precipice of another weekend. Hopefully, I'll get my shite together enough next week to write a proper blog post. Until that time, go out play outside as much as you can and most importantly, be kind and empathetic.