Friday, April 27, 2018

Time Has Come Today

The first flowers to bloom in my garden.

As I've said, I'm crazy excited about this nice weather. The only downside is that I can't find enough time in the day to do everything I want to get done. I always tell people the best way to age well, is to have tons of hobbies and passions, the bad thing about that is you become like me and start stressing yourself out about all the things you can't get done.

So, in order to ease that a little bit, I took a vacation day on Tuesday when it was supposed to be nice and warm. This is what it looked like:

6:30 - wake-up.

7:00 - Run 5 miles.

8:00 - Get home and change clothes.

8:15 - The sewer guys come to scrape the roots out of our pipes.

8:30 - Read my book, drink tea and eat breakfast, start a load of laundry in the washer.

10:30 - Go to the garden center and the grocery store.

11:30 - Come home, hang up laundry, and eat lunch.

12:45 - Go outside and work in the garden.

2:00 - Cram my mountain bike into my car and head to the trails.

4:30 - finish mountain biking and head home.

5:00 - Get  home, bring in the laundry and put clothes away.

5:30. Coadster gets off work and comes over because she and Stinky asked if I'd go for a bike ride on paths around town and then head to Shakespeare's for dinner with them.

6:30 - Get to Shakespeare's, call John and Stinky's fiance to meet us for dinner.

8:00 - Get home and watch an episode of Ballykissangel.

9:00 - Go upstairs and read my book until I fall asleep.

10:00 - Wake-up, head downstairs to my bed and pass-out.

I was almost happy to go to work the next day, so I could rest...Almost.

That whole day I was doing all of that stuff, I kept thinking how happy I am to be where I am today. Sure, it would be great to be rich and have more time to do stuff, but when I was younger, I didn't have the money or the opportunity or the emotional maturity to use my spare time very wisely. I may have stayed inside watching TV or been so overwhelmed that I slept most of the day away. I am so thankful to know exactly what I want to do with a free day and actually get myself to use my time wisely and also balance that time with fun and work and rest. So, if I can't get more hours in a day, I'm glad I'm not wasting the ones I do have anymore. Just trying to remember to appreciate all of my good shit...

Thursday, April 26, 2018

If I Could Offer You One Tip For the Future, Sunscreen Would be It

Well, last Sunday was Earth Day, and what a good day it was.

If you've met me at all, you know I'm a huge spaz. When it starts to get nice out, I get even spazzier. I go crazy with all the wonderful stuff I can finally do after a long Winter. John calls it my "Hurray for Everything!" mood and he is right on the money.

Since this was the first weekend it not only hadn't snowed in the last month or so, but got really warm out, I was going nuts trying to do every damn outdoorsy thing I could imagine.

On Sunday morning I worked in the garden. I planted the cool weather stuff like onions, beets, lettuce, arugula, spinach and a few flowers. Just in case you're wondering, when your neighbors walk by you while you're working in your garden and say, "I admire your optimism", they're being snotty because they think you are planting stuff too early and that it will all die of frost (and yes, this has happened to me a few times now) . What I want to say back to them is, "I admire your bitchiness", because I do admire people's bitchiness. But what I say instead is, "I'm only planting cooler weather stuff..."

Anyway, where was I? Oh yeah, I got some things planted and some beds built up and it made me happy...Except for a couple of my snide neighbors.

After the garden work, we met some of our friends for a bike ride. It was our friend Peg's birthday, so we met at Big Grove. My friends all had a beer and I had a nice, refreshing, Coca-Cola before we started the ride.

The ride was lovely. I am in no kind of shape right now. This Winter that extended into the Spring was hard on my training, so I'm pretty much starting now. I'm not very strong, but it still feels so good to play bikes outside.

We decided to ride to Riverside, (the future birthplace of James T. Kirk) because it's an easy ride and a lot of us hadn't done much riding lately. Of course, when we were over halfway there, we hit a snag. They closed the road and had a section all torn-up.

No problem. We just rode or walked our bikes through the mess and got to the other side. The next issue came when we got to Riverside. We were planning on eating lunch at Murphy's but it was closed. We decided to go to Casey's to get a snack before we headed back to Hills to eat lunch there. Turns out, Casey's was full of annoying drunk guys. I'm not sure what was going on. Maybe they crawled out from underneath their rocks to get some sun?

On the way back, I got a flat. Wah. John is always so good about fixing my flat tires, and everyone else's. Sure, we could all fix our own, but it would take twice as long.

We finally made it to Hills and sat out in the beer garden to eat and drink, and most importantly, sing "Happy Birthday" to our friend Peg.

The silliest part of the day was that both John and I forgot to wear sunscreen. What?! Now that I have all of these pre-cancerous patches on my arms, I'm trying to be so careful about it. It's just that it's been so long since we've had to worry about even seeing the sun, let alone getting burnt by it, that I didn't even think of applying sunscreen. Needless to say, I got my first sunburn of the year.

All-in-all, it was a lovely Earth Day adventure in gardening and bike riding. Hurray for everything!

Monday, April 23, 2018

So Fresh and So Clean, Clean

Archie gets excited when we move the furniture to clean.

Oh, kids. It FINALLY got nice and warm on a weekend. Since it snowed almost every weekend for over a month, we were all more than ready for the good weather. Yea!

I guess, the good thing about the weather being so crappy for so much of the Spring, is that we got a lot done on our kitchen, and I'm pretty damn sure we wouldn't have, had the weather been better. So, there's that...

Anyway, on Saturday it got up into the upper 50's. Weird. I went to a nursery to look at plants and stuff. I love doing that and the new garden store I went to actually had some shade plants. Our backyard is so shady and I've been trying to turn most of it into a shade garden, instead of the Creeping Charlie garden it is now. So, I found some Lungwart and a red Columbine. It was great to add some other flowers beside lilies back there.

I got home from the garden store and started to clean.

We were having people over for dinner and to watch the original "West World" movie from 1973. Which meant we had to get our house act together. Since we've been working in the kitchen since January, we've had our pot rack sitting on our living room floor for several months. So, we had to finish up the last part of our kitchen that we could paint (there's still another tiny section that we can't paint yet because we have to change the subfloor underneath the fridge so that the refrigerator won't lean against the wall anymore).

I got it all painted early in the morning and by the time I came home from the garden center, John had the pot rack up on the ceiling again and I set to cleaning our living room like a crazy person. It was really nice to have it all clean and with much less clutter than before.

Our kitchen is looking pretty nice too. Like I keep saying, we have to redo the flooring and buy an appliance or two, but we are very close to being done with the kitchen.

I made enchiladas and rice and beans and we had a lovely and clean house and a great time with our friends. One of our friends even brought their box wine in the little truck of their bike. We're a classy bunch.

It was so nice to start Sunday with a clean house, so we could spend the rest of the weekend playing outside.

Friday, April 20, 2018

It'll Be Just Like Starting Over. Starting Over.

Poster for the new race series our new team is starting. Art work by John Martinek.

So, here's the deal. John and I and some other friends started a new bike team this year. The team we were on wasn't very supportive. Last year, John did so much work to get a permanent cyclocross course set-up and we both spent almost every weekend from April through November working on the course, also many evenings during the week, and John also got some great volunteers, like our friends Chelsea and Burne to work on it and bring landscaping equipment. Unfortunately, the team we were on wouldn't support us in putting on a two day race once a year. First they said it was because there was a home football game in town that weekend. Then they said it was because there WASN'T a football game in town that weekend and the president of our team needed one of those days to put on his own race. We never saw them try to control races from any other teammates, so we bailed. We didn't want it to be some big, dramatic thing, we just wanted to be on a team that would support us in our races, just like we would support any races anyone else on our team wanted to put on.

At first, we thought we might just join other teams. We did email some friends of ours to let them know that we were quitting the team and some of those friends asked if we'd start another one, and if we did, could they join. We thought about it a bit and figured, what the hell. So, now we have a new team and we're trying to figure out how we want to do it. We took some of the things we liked about the old team, and we're changing some things we didn't like. We want it to be open to anyone who wants to join and is respectful of other people and we want it to be a multi-sport team. We'd like to help other people get into racing and playing outside more too.

Our new racing kits!

Getting this new team off the ground has been an interesting experience. We have about 12 members right now and so you get 12 different kinds of input. You can never make everyone happy, but we try to make most members happy and go by what the majority wants. We had to pick out a name, and pick out what we wanted our racing kits to look like, and what colors we wanted. We just got our new kits yesterday and John got a race series going and a website put together: All that's left now is for our members to race in our new kits. Woo hoo!

As far as I'm concerned, this is all a good thing. I know John is sad about not getting to put on the cyclocross race, but on the upside, we don't have to spend all of our precious spare time working on the course and painting barriers and bridges and mowing...So many less things to deal with.

Right now, I'm excited to see how it all goes, and I LOVE the colors of our new kit. So many ways to win.

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

It Don't Come Easy. You Know It Don't Come Easy.

It continues to snow here in Iowa.

I started this post a week ago, but never got a chance to finish it until today:

It's weird being in my 50's now. I was always too young and too immature, compared to most people I hung around with, and now I'm too old, but still too immature. I don't know how it is for other people my age, but for me, there's good and bad about being older, but mostly good.

This weekend I had a couple of older person experiences that really made me glad that I'm in my 50's. I just remember being in my 20's and 30's and wondering why I screwed everything up and why I did all kinds of things I didn't really even want to do. I feel like I wasted so much time and energy on stupid crap that I just refuse to do now.

So, here are a couple of examples of how wonderful it is to be 52:

On Saturday John and I went to swim laps and then sat in the steam room for a bit. There were two dude-bro type guys talking about their wild Friday night:

First Dude: Yeah, man. I literally just woke up at four this afternoon.

Second Dude: Whoa. Really? That's crazy.

First Dude: I just couldn't deal with the day after last night.

Second Dude: Remember that one guy I came with? He couldn't remember how to get home and he walked all the way to Kinnick. He didn't get home until 6:30 in the morning.

Me (in my head, but not voiced): Oh, yeah? Well, some Friday nights, when I'm reading a particularly good book, I can stay up until almost eleven pm!

I can't tell you how happy I am that I don't go to parties until the wee hours of the morning anymore, and most importantly, that I have a filter and didn't voice my above comment. Whew!

This is how we party at our house now.

Last Sunday John and I decided to go out to lunch. Of course, I hadn't looked at my self in the mirror all day and was almost ready to go, when I decided that maybe I should. Holy shit! I'm sure if I had gone out like that, people would say, "Wow. How did the crazy lady who lives in the attic in 'Jane Eyre' get out for lunch?" So, I washed my face, pulled my gigantic and frizzy looking hair back and THEN I was finally ready.

I love being so old that I don't think too much about what I look like. When I was younger I used to stress out about it. I'm also glad that I'm not so old that I forget altogether to take a look and then take two whole seconds to fix things before I go out and embarrass John or my girls or whomever else I'm with.

Friday, April 06, 2018

Bring Tea For the Tillerman, Steak for the Sun, Wine for the Women Who Made the Rain Come.

Thanks to Chelsea Bilskemper for the photo.
 We interrupt our regularly scheduled reports on my kitchen rehab for last weekend's work on the garden.

Last Saturday was finally a little warmer and it didn't snow (weird), but it was ridiculously windy. So, we got our friends, Burne and Chelsea to come over with their tiller and a truckload for of very old horse poo (or as we like to call it, black gold).

I've never had a garden tilled before. Last year, I dug up our whole front yard with a shovel and lots of my own sweat (EW!). That tiller works brilliantly, and it's supposed to help grind up caterpillars who will be hell-bent on devouring my tomato and pepper plants this Summer. Fingers crossed.

Anyway, this is the finished product. Now, we just have to wait for it to quit snowing, so we can build up some beds and get some planting done.

I spent some time on Sunday repotting many of my seedlings. They are doing really well. I can't wait to get them in the ground, but that should be at least another month. It is so much damn work, but I do love to garden.

Since it's supposed to snow again this weekend, we'll probably get more done in the kitchen. I hope.

Thursday, April 05, 2018

I'd Say That I Had Spring Fever, But I Know It Isn't Spring

Since I woke up to snow today, (a light dusting, but I'm tired of it and it was only 17 degrees out, so I'm extra whiny) I'm writing my new monthly traveling through reading books post. In March I read nine books. Here's where they took me:

1.) My first book trip in March took me to Sophia, Bulgaria. "What Belongs to You" is by Garth Greenwell. I don't know if I've ever read a novel that took place there. The book itself was pretty lonely and bleak, so it probably wouldn't be my first choice for escapists destinations, but it was interesting to read about its history and architecture through this novel.

2.) Book two was perfect for getting my head out of the frigid Winter known as March in July. "The Star Side of Bird Hill", by Naomi Jackson. It takes place in the 1980's in Barbados. It was a sweet book, and I could stand a few more reads that take place on an island.

3.) "Preparation for the Next Life", by Atticus Lish, took place in New York City. It was very sad, and intense, so it wasn't much of a vacation, but it did make me feel pretty fortunate for my snowy, little, Midwestern, life.

4.) "Speak", by Louisa Hall took me all over the place; the past, the present, the future, and all over the world as well. It was a lot about computers and robots and communication. I like it a lot and it took me far away from my world.

5.) Just by chance, I read "Beatlebone by Kevin Barry right before St Patrick's Day. It took place in Ireland in 1978, with an imagined (see what I did there?) John Lennon. I really do want to go to Ireland one day, I just hope my time there is better than John Lennon's was in this novel.

6.) "The Portable Veblen" by Elizabeth McKenzie was quirky as hell and took place in Palo Alto, California. Since I've lived in that area before, it wasn't new to me, but I would love to be able to visit again. Also, a squirrel was one of the characters and I've never been friends with a squirrel before.

7.) The seventh book I read was "Midnight's Children" by Salman Rushdie. Holy cow! If you want to go to another country, this is the way to travel. I was in India and Pakistan from before the beginning of Indian independence until 1978 (the same year I was in Ireland with John Lennon. Busy literary travel year). I was sometimes overwhelmed with all of the new people I was meeting in this book, but it was so worth the trip.

8.) "Girls on Fire", by Robin Wasserman takes place in the early 1990's in Western Pennsylvania. Reading it made me not want to ever go to Western Pennsylvania in real life and definitely not ever go back to high school. Well, I didn't need a book to tell me that.

9.) The last book I read in March was "Celine" by Peter Heller. It took place in the early 2000's in and around Yellowstone. Celine was from all kinds of money. Man, would I love to visit THAT world.

Here's to hoping that I will write about my literary "travels" next month while hanging out on my back porch. Sigh.