Thursday, October 03, 2019

Made of Wet Boots and Rain and Shiny Black Ravens on Chimney Smoke Lanes.

Well, kids. It's October already and I haven't really written a ton on the blog lately.

I am a Summer person. It makes me nervous when it starts getting cooler outside and darker earlier. I do like Halloween, though. So, I'll have that to get excited about.

I had a stupid migraine for pretty much all of September. I'd take meds and it would go away for 24 hours and come right back the minute the meds wore off.

It got me down, and I was so dizzy and in pain from the migraine, that I couldn't even run or ride my bike much, which is normally how I deal with being down. I'm happy to say that I did just go an entire week without having a migraine or taking meds. Woo hoo! I had a very light one the last couple of days, but nothing like it was last month. I'll keep my fingers and my eyes and my legs crossed that things stay that way.

Since I was having trouble getting excited about things through the fog of my brain pain, I bought myself a pretty bike.

I know it's stupid. John keeps telling me that a new bike won't make me faster, and I was raised to know that consumerism doesn't help anything, but I wanted a pretty bike, dammit! A few years ago, I said I wouldn't buy anything (except our house) that I had to borrow money for. I could actually afford this, and I got it and I'm riding it and it's fun and pretty and I'm not at all faster, but that wasn't the point. The point is that I wanted something to get excited about, and not having a migraine and then having a new bike is doing that for me. As always, I'll take what I can get...

Two weeks ago we went to Madison, Wisconsin for a bike race, and it was really fun.

Saturday was John's 55th birthday. His favorite way to celebrate anything is to race his bike. He had three full days of bike racing, plus hanging out with friends and my family (sorry John) and watching the pros race their bikes. He said it was a great birthday weekend for him.

 The next day was Stinky's 26th birthday. Holy cow! But my kids are getting older. It's a damn good thing that I'm not.

We celebrated her birthday the next day with dinner and drinks and cheesecake and free beignets. It was a lovely evening,

John caught a cold, so we decided not to go to Des Moines and race last weekend. Instead we did a slow gravel ride to our friends rescue farm where they had a lovely party and I got to meet their Vietnamese pot bellied piglets. They were so adorable.

So, now we're back up to speed. It's October, and it's been raining too much, but I'm hoping my migraines are calming down and even though I'm not in great shape, I want to try and "race" again. We'll see how that goes...

And for all the rest of you? I hope you love Fall and that you aren't in any pain and that you have a million things to be excited about.

Thursday, September 26, 2019

Summer Reading, Had Me a Blast.

Well, kids. It's almost October, so I better get crackin' on my August books post.

In August I took six book trips, and I went to some fantastic places.

1.) My first jaunt was to Turkey and Syria via Elliot Ackerman's "Dark at the Crossing". It was a very sad book. It was also the first novel I've read about what's been going on in Syria the last few years.

2.) My second trip was a non-fiction book by Mary Karr called "The Liar's Club" about her childhood in a very dysfunctional family. It was a trip back to the 60's and early 70's in Texas and Colorado. It was very well written as well.

3.) My third adventure involved trolls and changelings in modern day NYC. I really liked this novel a lot. It was "The Changeling" by Victor Lavalle.

4.) My fourth book has been getting tons of hype this Summer. "Where the Crawdads Sings" by Delia Owens was a perfect Summer read. It takes place in North Carolina and is about a girl who was basically abandoned by her family members when she was very young and how that has shaped her as an adult. If you want a very escapist, read, this is your novel.

5.) I traveled to a part of England in "Elmet", by Fiona Mozley. This book was in keeping with my theme during August of brutal allegory/fantasy texts. The world in this novel felt dreamlike and then later turned into a nightmare.

6.) What a way to end my month in book travel. My sixth book was "The Fellowship of the Ring" by J. R. R. Tolkien. I don't think I ever read the trilogy when I was a kid, and I wanted to wait a while after having watched the movies to dig into it, but man, what a voyage. My daughter tells me the other ones get more boring, however. I just loved the novel and it was another perfect Summer read.

Now that the sun light seems to be getting weaker and setting earlier, it will be interesting to see how my book travel changes.

Monday, September 23, 2019

And the Soles of Your Shoes Are All Worn Down

I've been trying to write this post for the last couple of weeks, but our internet at home is spotty, and we've been busy at work. So, I'm not updating this post again, or I'll never publish this thing: 

Okay. So, I've been having migraines on and off now for three weeks and it's hard to make my brain work well enough to write anything ground breaking, or all that interesting. I'm taking the next two days off for the Trek World Cup Cyclocross race. I probably won't be able to race at all, since I'm so weak and dizzy from stupid migraines. John will race all three days and we'll be in Madison for almost four days.

Last Thursday I had my third year post breast cancer mammogram. I went in the morning and had my mammogram and then met with the oncologist nurse practitioner who told me that my preliminary report was clean. Yea me!

Oh, old lady health issues, I'm a little annoyed with you all. Speaking of old lady health issues, I've been reading this very long, but very informative article about the link between Alzheimer's and menopause here: Of course, Alzheimer's doesn't seem to run in my family...Or maybe it does, but everyone in my family tends to smoke so much that they die of cancer or strokes or heart attacks, and they don't live long enough to find out if it runs in our family or not.

Anyway, this woman proposes that there is a strong link to menopause and Alzheimer's in women. Basically, they think women start getting Alzheimer's right when they hit menopause. Great. The woman says you can keep this from happening by avoiding, alcohol, sugar, caffeine, processed food, and stress. Excuse me, but how are we supposed to deal with our stress when we have to avoid alcohol, sugar, caffeine, and processed food?

Soooo, I'm working hard to eat better, even though perimenopause makes me crave sugar and stresses me out, making that way more of a challenge than it should be. I suppose the good thing about getting Alzheimer's with my menopause, will be forgetting what perimenopause felt like. Hot flashes? What are those? Migraines? I can't really recall that pain. Crying for no reason? When did that happen? Gaining weight by just looking at food? Haven't I always weighed this much? Maybe I shouldn't work so hard at eating better and avoiding alcohol after all...

Wednesday, September 04, 2019

Let Me Drown in Your Laughter. Let Me Die in Your Arms

Last night I had a dream that John Denver was still alive and looked like he did in the 70's and he wanted to meet me after his (well attended concert - which should have clued me in that it was a dream).

Anyway, the dream seemed to go on for hours and hours and all it was, was me wanting to meet John Denver for a date after his show, but blowing him off for my husband and being conflicted and then having John Denver give me another chance to meet him, and then me flaking on him, and so on and so on, and right when it seemed that I would finally leave my spouse to be with John Denver, I woke up and felt awful about choosing him over my husband. Where the hell did THAT dream come from?

All I can say, is that if I had that dream when I was 10 years old, it would have been a lot shorter. I would have left any husband I had to be with John Denver without a drop of guilt. I guess maybe I have matured a little now that I'm in my 50's.

Also, I'm blaming my now 7 day migraine for all of this. Who knows what weird doors all that pain has opened up in my brain. I might totally revert back to my mid-seventies self and start wearing smock tops and earth shoes, and listening to Olivia Newton-John and watching "The Waltons". It's a slippery slope.

Tuesday, September 03, 2019

I Used to Get Mad at My School (No, I Can't Complain). The Teachers Who Taught Me Weren't Cool (No, I Can't Complain).

 Time for a recycled post:

 When I was in 4th grade, I was desperately trying to get diagnosed with a learning disability. Both my brother and my sister supposedly had one and they got to see Mrs. Sanchez. She was a big proponent of positive reinforcement, so my siblings were constantly coming home with super balls, candy and best of all, stories about their lunches at McDonald's. Back in 1974, you were still allowed to use food as a reward. My plan was to get diagnosed, have my class in Mrs. Sanchez's room and then be so good that I used up her entire budget on McDonald's lunches every week. The school indulged me a couple of times, but the third time I asked to take the test that should have led me down my Mccheeseburger path, I was denied.

I don't remember specifics, but I think the principal sounded like this; "Listen kid. You don't have a learning disability and you're not gonna get one by taking the tests over and over. So, scram." Actually, it was the seventies and we lived in Mesa so I'm sure he spoke less like Nick the bartender from It's A Wonderful Life and more like a progressive Mormon worried about my self-esteem.

What I lacked in a learning disability, I made up for in a speech impediment. I had a lisp up until that year. Lisps are adorable until you reach that awkward age and unless you're moving to Barcelona, you want to try to lose it and fast. Which meant I had to meet with a speech therapist. Unfortunately, she was no Mrs. Sanchez. She was so boring, I don't even remember her name. I sat in her room and recited, "Sammy snake, Sammy snake, Sammy snake..." into a tape recorder.

I know I can't make it through a post without mentioning my short attention span, so I figured I'd bring it up again. Sitting down for very long is difficult for me as an adult, but as a nine year old, it was torture. Finally, one day my teacher went out and left me to my recitation so she could smoke a ciggie in the hallway and chat with some of the other teachers. I continued on and she told me she would listen to it later. Halfway through, I belched very loudly into the microphone. I felt so rebellious. But instead of listening to the tape later, my speech therapist came back early and decided to go over it with me. I couldn't look at her as the tape rolled on. "Sammy snake. Sammy snake. Sammy snake. Bwaaap! Sammy snake..." My teacher was sufficently horrified.

"Chur-LEE-ta!" I was so busted. I didn't even laugh uncomfortably like I normally do in awkward situations.

"I'm sorry, but it was soooo boring." She wasn't sympathetic. She was, in fact, very annoyed for the duration of our classes together. I once heard her relating the incident to another teacher when they were standing outside the door. The other teacher said,

"I guess there's one in every bunch..."

The good news is, that I lost my lisp that year. Maybe the therapist had a plan all along. Her strategy was to bore the lisp right out of me. And now I don't even have to consciously think to put my tongue behind my teeth when I say Sammy snake. Which is good, because you know how often I'm always talking about Sammy snake.

Thursday, August 29, 2019

Moonlight and Love Songs Never Out of Date

Archie is scandalized by my reading choice.

I'm going to go ahead and interrupt the vacation posts, with a traveling by books in July one. Especially since it's almost September now.

In July I only read five books. Since I was able to travel in real life, I figure I was okay with such a low number.

1.) The first book I read in July was "Valley of the Dolls", by Jacqueline Susann. It was written in 1966, and at that time I believe it was very sensational and considered debauched, but now it's pretty tame. It was fun to go back to that time, but sad that the women felt like they had to over medicate themselves to deal with their relationships with men. I'm sure there are plenty of women who still feel that way even now. Sigh.

2.) The Second book trip I took was "Where the Red Fern Grows", by Wilson Rawls. I first read this book in third or fourth grade and the author came to our school to read from it. It took me to The Ozarks in the 1920's. It was a great adventure story and I'm always a sucker for an animal saga. It was perfect Summer reading.

3.) I read "Modern Lovers" by Emma Straub. It takes place in New York City and deals with parents who were in a band back in the day that was considered pretty cool, but now they have their own children in high school and how they have to pass that torch, while still dealing with their younger adult selve's issues. I really liked it and the writing was excellent. A nice two-for-one book trip.

4.) I read Christopher Moore's "Noir" when we were on vacation, so I didn't have tons of time to take that trip within our trip, but it was so crazy and fun. It takes place in San Francisco right after World War II. It reads like an old detective novel, but it has aliens in it too. I thought it was a hoot.

5.) The last book I read was "Where'd You Go, Bernadette", by Maria Semple. I have heard the movie isn't that great, but I was very entertained by the book, which takes place in Seattle and everyone is rich and there is a lot of talk of architecture, and the main character is at first, not very likable.

All the books I read in July were a lot of fun. Of course, they can't beat our actual vacation, but I haven't seen much in this world that could.

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

You Realize That Life Goes Fast. It's Hard to Make the Good Things Last.

On Monday we reluctantly left our resort and Zion and headed toward Bryce Canyon.

It was Coadster's last day with us. Since we weren't sure she was coming on the trip with us when I booked everything, the last two stops could only house two people, so Coadster was going to head back to Iowa after lunch. It was so great to have her with us. She helped so much with driving and she was a great sport to hang out with a couple of old people and put up with our geriatric antics.

We went to the visitor's center to see what would be a good hike to see cool stuff in a few hours. They suggested the Navajo Loop. So, we did that.

It was really cool. I'm so glad that Coadster got over her fear of heights from when she was a child, because this would have done her in.

Luckily, the trails were wide and not hard to walk on.

We loved the little archways to walk through too.

We were also going to try and hike Queen's Garden, but Coadster had a long drive ahead of her, so we bailed on that and hopefully, Coadster will have a chance to come back and do it later.

We agreed that Navajo Trail was a great hike to do if that's all you had time for.

Sadly, it came time to say goodbye to our Coadster. We were so sad to see her go, but we were very glad that we had that time with her in such perfect conditions. I always say this, but try to make the fun experiences happen whenever you can, you never know what can change in your life, and you'd hate to say, "I should have done that..." I hope that even when I'm (hopefully old) at the end of my time here on earth, I will have these images and memories to look back on and still be in wonder of it.

I really did like Bryce Canyon. It was beautiful and the Hoo Doo's were so cool to behold.

After Coadster left, John and I decided to check out the trails through the park.

Bryce was the only park that we saw that had an actual bike path through it.

Because there was a shuttle and there wasn't much car traffic, we even rode off the bike path up to Inspiration Point.

Once we got there, I felt very inspired. What incredible views.

We took the path through Dixie National Forest and just to the border of Bryce Canyon city and then turned around.

Since it was getting late, we decided to save the bike path past Bryce Canyon City as far as it would go for the next day.

In the evening we got pizza at the Bryce Canyon Inn, and it was delicious. Strangely enough for a Mormon state, the local beer we had in Utah was great too.

We were going to try and stay up and watch a movie in our AirBnB that night, but we watched a half hour series and both crashed. All of this hiking and biking can really wear an old person out.

Tuesday, August 27, 2019

By the Rivers of Babylon, There We Sat Down. Yeah, We Wept, When We Remembered Zion.

The day after the Subway hike, we were all exhausted. We decided to just take the shuttle to a couple of shorter, easier hikes for the day.

The first hike we did was in The Narrows.

The Narrows is an area that is mostly creek bed where the canyons get more narrow as you hike through it.

This year, the water was a lot higher than normal.

So, the hike was a little more strenuous than we had hoped. Coadster hiked a little with us and then headed back to rest on a bench.

John and I carried on a ways. We didn't want to do the entire hike, because we didn't want to leave Coadster sitting by herself for too long.

At one point, John decided to escape the crowds on the main artery of the stream, by taking another route with a faster current.

I foolishly followed him, and by the time he got to the other side and was going to tell me not to risk the current, it was too late.

I did make it safely to the other side, but it was a "fun" little adventure.

We headed back and met Coadster. We decided to get out on the shuttle stop that was just a little hike to the stop where there was a short little hike to a lodge where we could get ice cream - very important.

 On our little hike, there was a family behind us and the guy was apparently in a hurry, and apparently, a jerk. We were on a narrow path with on a ledge and the guy along with his wife and young son scurrying behind him, came whipping around us and John lost his balance and almost fell trying to move to the side. The woman half heartedly apologized, but had to almost run to keep up with her jerky husband. So annoying.

 By the time we made it to the lodge, then hopped on the shuttle, and had cold pizza for lunch in the parking lot at the visitor's center, Coadster and I were officially fried.

As I've said before, going on these trips with John, I have to be strong about telling him that I'm too tired to do strenuous work-outs all day every day and I have to rest. I finally told him that day.

So, we headed back to the Ponderosa Ranch and Coadster took a good long nap, while I laid around and read and took dips in the jacuzzi and the pool here and there. It was exactly what we all needed.

In the evening we decided to go to Springdale for dinner. We were on the other side of the park from it, but it has nice little restaurants, so we ate Mexican food, and then headed to the Canyon Overlook trail on the way back to the resort.

This was a short but beautiful hike.

The colors and shadows were even more beautiful as we approached sunset.

We thought about sticking around to actually watch the sunset, but we didn't bring any flashlights and it would be hard to navigate the hike back in the dark. So, instead we headed home, and packed up as much as possible before we left for Bryce Canyon in the morning.

One of these years, I'd love to go back to all of these places and spend a hell of a lot more time there and see more of the beauty. I feel like we barely scratched the surface in Zion.