Monday, June 19, 2017

I've Come to Look for America

So, my baby took off yesterday for her Summer road trip. She had been in Madison, staying with my brother last week and it sounds like she had a good time.

She came through town yesterday and we had a nice lunch with her and talked about her plans and then she got in her car and drove off. Sigh.

She just called me to tell me she's in Colorado now. She stayed with a friend in Sioux City last night and went to see a band play in an outdoor bandshell and then went to a bon fire party and made s'mores. It sounds like she's having a blast already.

I can't wait to hear where she goes next. I sure hope she finds what she's looking for.

Friday, June 16, 2017

Keep On runnin'. Hey, hey. Alright!

This may have been the only time I smiled during the run...Or was that a grimace?

Well, lookee here! I got another race to report. Of course, now I'm about two weeks behind in my posting, but you all know how I am...

I know I've said that this year, I'm going to call it like I see it about racing. If I wake up and feel like it, I'll race and if I wake up and feel like crap or I'm just not into it, I won't. Which means, the sprint triathlon I did on June 4th was only my 3rd race of the year.

I was tired when I woke up, but it was 4 in the morning, so that wasn't all that unusual. I figured I'd give doing the triathlon a go, since I was sick last year and couldn't race. Even though I had only did any swimming twice this whole year.

The race went down like this:

Swim - There was some problem with draining the lake and so it was lower than normal. Which meant getting in and out of it was trickier. There wasn't any nice sand to help with the run in or out of the lake. Instead there was gooey mud that felt like quicksand with every step.

I tromped into the water and tried to do the crawl in the water. Something was wrong. I could barely breathe. Turns out, I had gained about 15 lbs since the last time I wore my wet suit and it was constricting my rib cage so much that my lungs couldn't get much air. As if an open water swim with hundreds of my "closest friends" wasn't panic inducing enough....

I figured there wasn't much I could do but try to just get through it without dying. So, I got on my back, closed my eyes and put my left hand on the rope that held the buoys that guided us on where we were to swim and used my right arm to flail about and barely push me forward. I went so damn slowly and every time I checked, I still had so far to go. By the time I made it out of the lake, I still had to run up a big sandy hill to get to the first transition.

Bike - I was so wiped, but I thought, I'm going to get on my bike next. That's my easiest, favorite part. So, I changed out of my wet suit, put my number belt on, threw on my shoes and helmet. Ate some GU and headed out on the bike. I wasn't the quickest cyclist at first, but as I finally started to recover from the swim, I picked up my pace. Toward the end of my ride, I was actually feeling pretty good. I was worried about the run, since I've been having problems with muscle cramping and tightness with the lovely perimenopause, so I was worried I would have to walk more than run.

Run - As I reached the transition for the second time, I just had to take my helmet off, drink a little water, and go. Did I mention that it was really hot out? Because it was really hot out. I tried to get myself to run in smaller increments, like, I can easily run one mile, just keep running until I get to the first mile mark. Then, okay, I made it to the first mile, now it's only a half mile until the turn-around, just go that far. Then I talked myself into "running" to the 2nd mile mark and then I only had a mile left and then a half mile left, and in high school I could run a half mile in a little over 2 minutes. (Never mind that I was at least 30 years younger, I hadn't just finished most of a triathlon and I was running on a track at the time) Two minutes was nothing, right? So, I ran the whole thing, (and the last half mile was in WAY longer 2 minutes), except for stopping for a couple of seconds to drink a swallow and then throw the rest of the cold water over my head. I made it!

It was the slowest time I've ever had for a triathlon and the run took me 6 minutes longer than the first time I ever competed in that same triathlon in 2011, but I finished it. Afterward I was talking to a guy on my bike racing team about how I got too fat to breathe in my wet suit and he told me, "Don't worry. It wasn't you getting fat, those wet suits shrink over the Winter." Riiiiiiiiiiight.

So, lessons learned in this race: Don't get fat over the Winter, spend more time swimming before the race and be proud of myself for finishing and not stopping to walk during the run.

I'll be interested to see what other race I might feel like doing this year...

Friday, June 09, 2017

This is Our Lives on Holiday

On Memorial Day we headed to Davenport in the morning for John's bike race. He did really well for not having raced much this year. It's also in a cute area of town, so it was fun to walk around, watch the race and take a few photos.

We zipped  home, rested for about 20 minutes, ate a little food and then met our friends at the Deadwood bar for a bike ride.

Our friend, Eggo wanted to do a hilly ride to get ready for TOMRV (the long, hilly, bike ride we're supposed to do this weekend along the Mississippi River). It was also really windy, so that made the ride extra hard.

We just happened upon a sign that we called "Burn's Anus". Close enough. Burne was a good sport about it and even posed for a picture. We never did find his anus...Er, Angus.

In an effort to get many hills in, we took the Cosgrove Road back to Black Diamond Road, and man, was it hilly. The town of Cosgrove is also very pretty. I'm not one much for actually going into churches, but I do think they are very pretty to ride past.

We rode back to Big Grove in Iowa City for dinner after our treacherous ride. Of course, we were lucky enough to have the scenery you see above the whole way home. It was a jolly holiday.

Wednesday, June 07, 2017

Summer Breeze, Makes Me Feel Fine.

So, yeah. I know I've been bad about writing this week and so I am still writing about posts from Memorial Day weekend. Lucky for all y'all, this will be mostly photos of Sunday on Memorial Day weekend. I hope to write about Monday of Memorial Day weekend and then then get to this past weekend, before next weekend. Whew! Being busy and having fun is great, but man, is it exhausting.

We decided to ride our bikes to Cedar Rapids. There is a little bit of road riding, but then the rest is all on a bike path.

Of course, the creatures that you meet on the bike path aren't always friendly. These geese were having a regular old hissy fit when rode past them.

The path is lovely.

The crazy thing about these bike paths, is that they are very well used. We saw so many people and every business on it was packed with people and bikes. They appeared to be making money hand over fist.

We stopped at a place called The Kickstand for lunch and then rode to The Sag Wagon check out what was going on there.

They are located right on the little lake and had a band and sand volley ball and bags and beer. It was great.

As always, I have to check out the sculptures in any town I go to.

Cedar Rapids is very industrial. There is a big Quaker Oats plant and a bunch of other big factories and trains. It also usually stinks to high heaven. They don't call it the city of five smells for nuthin'.

We finally finished the ride after many long hours. We got in 72 miles altogether. It was a great time and it was good for us to check it all out, since we're going to be riding that way, but extend the route to Waterloo for our first day of OOBRAI in July.

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Just a Place to Call Your Own, As We Drift Into the Zone.

Well, kids. It was a glorious holiday weekend, but man, am I exhausted from it. Friday night was nice and mellow. Originally, Coadster was going to stay with us, but some of her old co-workers were going to a baseball game and wanted her to join them. I was sad not to get to hang out with her, but it's good for her to get out and have some fun whenever she can.

I did make myself a lovely bouquet of the Peonies and Daisies I have in backyard and side yard gardens.

John and I also set up these nice solar lights for the garden. John thought it would help the bunnies find their favorite foods better at night...

On Saturday morning we headed to Burlington for John to race up Snake Alley. I used to do the race too, but I am just too old, fat and slow to do it now. I was before too, but back then I was delusional and thought I might lose enough weight or gain enough strength to be able to be competitive in it and now I am more realistic.

Instead of racing, I get to hang out on the hill and eat homemade cinnamon rolls from the bakery downtown and talk to my friends, take photos and heckle the racers. I am soooo much more competitive in those kinds of activities. I could win a homemade cinnamon roll eating contest with very little effort.

Some of our friends joined us to watch races and I brought a picnic lunch. It was all very fun and nice. John and I went home at around 1. I wanted to get a little bike work-out in and do some stuff around the house.

John took me out for dinner in the evening and we went home to watch the movie "Paterson". It's a Jim Jarmusch movie, so it was quiet and not at all plot driven, but John and I both really liked it. It was a mellow evening, which was exactly what we needed before the next two very social days.

Friday, May 26, 2017

So, I'll Continue to Continue to Pretend My Life Will Never End and Flowers Never Bend With the Rainfall

I'm thinking it's time for a little garden porn. I don't have a lot of flowers up yet, but we do have Peonies, which I love.

I have a large portion of my yard now turned into gardens. It has been a lot of work, but I like the work, so I'm okay with it. The only problem is getting to all of the gardens. Our backyard is all shade, so I was trying to landscape things nicely and turn most of it into a shade garden. Every year I plant more Lilies and Daisies. I just need to take some time now to put down weed cloth, lava rock and border it all out with bricks and flag stone. One of these days...

Meanwhile, my gigantic vegetable garden is doing quite well, thank you. I have never really grown egg plant before, so I had no idea the flowers would be so lovely. I can't wait for those flowers to become even lovelier food.

We've had a lot of rain here lately, so my green beans sprouted about 4 or 5 days after I planted them. I just hope whatever has been eating some of them, doesn't take them all down.

John loves peppers, so I decided to grow all kinds of them. Right now I have Poblanos, Banana Peppers, Anaheim, jalapen~o's and green, red, orange and purple bell peppers. Woo hoo!

This front yard garden thing has been so wonderful for me. We've been eating greens with pretty much every meal, I made Swiss Chard for the first time and loved it and I made my first batch of pesto of the year with our basil. The best part is the response from my neighbors. Being in the front yard, and living on a street where so many people walk, run and ride their bikes, I get a lot of traffic by my garden. I have so many little kids stop by with their parents to tell me that they think my garden is pretty or cute and one little boy stopped by to tell me what his favorite vegetable was (corn) and then when I was watering, I had him tell me which plant I should spray the gun at and he thought that was just the funnest thing. Before he left, he told me I can never go back inside my house. That I should stay outside and when he and his mom come by, he'll yell at me and look at my garden and then I have to go with them and look at their garden. Sounds perfect.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

You're Still You. Remember You, Rosy Child and Wild With Apple Lungs

For a while there, what with all the engagements and marriages in my house, it felt like we were living at the end of a Jane Austen novel. But real life is nothing like a book, and so some things have changed.

Coadster turned 25 about a week and a half ago, and I'm not sure if it was the age, or that she started really looking at things, or that in her head, she thought she had to do things in a certain way and a particular time frame and after she did all of those things - go to college, find a partner, get a job, get engaged - she found that none of it made her happy.

Anyway, she has decided to effectively tear it all down and start over again. She had a very stressful job that she is quitting (you don't know how happy that makes me), she got unengaged and moved out from her former fiance (which makes me sad, since I really liked the guy, but I understand that they weren't right for each other) and she is spending the Summer road tripping. Man, am I envious of the Summer road tripping part.

She might go away and come back in the Fall with a whole new set of goals, or she might decide to take things easy, get a job and just keep plugging along at an easier pace, or she might decide that what she was doing was just fine and go back to it. I don't know, but whatever she does, she will decide it after having thought a lot about what she wants, instead of going through the motions, trying to what she thought was expected of her.

Of course, this has all been very hard for her. She doesn't want to hurt anyone, but she also didn't want to stay where she was, get married have a mortgage and kids and THEN decide it wasn't going to work. So, she is going through all kinds of bad stuff right now, but I hope she takes the time to work on herself and her issues, so she doesn't have to go through something like this over and over again.

Life can be such a difficult process when you're young...And even when you're old. In my book, being true to yourself is the only route to take, no matter how tough that can be. I'm hoping she figures things out and has a great adventure in the process.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

All You Need's a Strong Heart and a Nerve of Steel. Viva Las Vegas!

So, what do you know? Stinky got herself engaged this weekend. I knew it was going to happen, but she didn't. Her fiance came over to our house about a month ago and showed us her ring and told us his plan. He wanted it to be a surprise, but he told a lot of people, so didn't think there was any way she wouldn't find out. We were wrong.

Stinky and her boyfriend planned a trip to Arizona to visit a friend after Stinky was done with finals. They were going to drive to Las Vegas and stay there for a day and a night before they headed back to Arizona.

On Friday night, they went to the Bellagio Hotel where they have a light and music show. Stinky's friend recorded a live event on Face Book where Stinky's boyfriend asked her to marry him during the show. The music that was playing at the time of the proposal was from "The Good, the Bad and the Ugly", which can accurately describe marriage some days...

It was all very sweet and also kind of weird...Especially, when Stinky called me a couple of minutes later, overwhelmed with emotion to let me know she got engaged and I said, "Yeah. I saw it on Face Book." Technology can be a bugger sometimes.

So, it is that we are going to Stinky's first engagement party tonight. I don't understand the need for one engagement party, let alone two, but it's her happening and it seems like kids today are all about celebrating things like no one has ever celebrated them before. John and I will show up for a beer and then be on our way, because this engagement party is being thrown by her co-workers from the Irish Pub where Stinky works. Next week's party will be a little different. Stinky's boyfriend planned it for close family members it will be more of a nice dinner.

 Here's wishing the lovely couple all the best and I hope they live happily ever after...

Saturday, May 20, 2017

That's What You Get When You Are a Dork.

Okay. Remember when I told you that we went to that sculpture garden in Des Moines last week? Well, we felt the need to take many silly photos among the art. We took this one of the two of us but then thought we should use the color to our advantage.

We took a photo of Stinky next to the purple prism thingy because it matches her purple hair. See how she stands there and looks adorable and not weird and awkward? I hear that they call that poise...Yeah. I'm not familiar  with it.

Since I'm wearing blue, Stinky tries to take a picture of me next to the blue prism. While I "pose", she says, "Oh my god. Why do you look so awkward? What are you doing with your hands?"

So, I say, "Oh you want awkward? I'll give you awkward." And I give her my most "so uncomfortable with myself it almost hurts" pose, with thumbs up and everything. That's what she gets...And I suppose this picture is what I get. I sure showed me, didn't I? Sigh.

Friday, May 19, 2017

Sad Eyes, Turn the Other Way. I Don't Want to See You Cry.

So, after many sunrises and sunsets in our great state of Iowa I am FINALLY writing about last weekend.

Last Friday, it was nice and warm enough to sit out on the porch after work. Of course, for Archie that must just have meant that he could try to get attention in any negative ways he could think of - trying to chew through the screen door, for example. Asshole.

So, he got relegated to the bedroom and we shut the window. Which just made him whine and lie on our bed and look out at us with the saddest eyes.

Normally, Heidi is as annoyed by Archie as we are...Until he gets in trouble. Then she goes and lies down next to him in solidarity against the evil humans. Assholes.

After we had some good porch settin' time, I went inside and made veggie fajitas with black beans for dinner. It was the first meal where I was actually able to go outside and pick leaf lettuce and cilantro from the garden. Everything tastes better when it's fresh from the garden.

I don't really have many photos for Saturday. Earlier in the day, John went out to work on the mountain bike trails and I went to the Farmer's Market to buy a the last few things for the garden. I did splurge and buy a couple of Gerbera Daisies that had already flowered. I planted a bunch of seedlings, but it could be a while before we actually get to see what color their flowers are.

Then I went out and met John at the mountain bike trails. Our team was putting a race on and I rode with John while he trimmed up the little shoots and vines that we like to call "face slappers". When the race was getting ready to start, John stayed and helped out and I went home and worked in the garden. I planted, and planted and planted some more. I didn't get it all done before John came home and I made lunch, but here is a list of what I did get planted: English cucumbers, English thyme, more tomatoes, the last of the torch sunflowers, regular sunflower seeds, zucchini, more snap dragons, zinnias, butternut squash, French Marigolds, green beans, oregano, and a few more peppers.

The rest of the day I ran errands and John cleaned most of the house. Then we went to our friend's daughter's graduation party at 4. We stayed until about 7 pm and went  home and watched the movie, "Twentieth Century Women". I liked it a lot. After the movie, John went to bed and I stayed up a bit longer to read some of Neil Gaiman's "American Gods". It was such a good  book.

Sunday was Mother's Day. John went to his mom's in the morning and they went for a hike before it got too hot outside. While he was doing that, I planted some more in the flower garden in my side yard.

John got home and did most of the house cleaning, while I finished up planting and did some cleaning up too.

Coadster and her dog got to our place right before we left to go on a bike ride to Columbus Junction. She and Stinky drove out to meet us and we all had a delicious early dinner at a Mexican restaurant there.

After we ate, we stopped off at what they call The Swinging Bridge or Lover's Leap. Coadster is terrified of heights and the boys making a big point to swing the bridge back and forth didn't help, but Coadster was brave enough to take a few steps on it, before she ran back to the safety of non-swinging land.

We headed back to Iowa City and the whole ride ended up being 72 miles when it was all said and done. The guys we rode with wanted to stop and drink in towns on the way back, but I couldn't. We had to get back and meet Coadster before she went back to Des Moines. Since the following day was her 25th birthday, she and I walked her dog to the ice cream store and had ourselves a treat. Happy celebration days to both of us.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

You Float Like a Feather In a Beautiful World

Okay. We're still dealing with last week's shenanigans. Coadster turned 25 on May 15th. For her birthday present, Stinky bought her tickets to see Tears For Fears and Hall and Oates in concert on May 8th. Originally, it was just going to be the two of them, but they asked me and even though it was a Monday night, I figured, what the hell, I can take some vacation time and have fun with my girls.

So, that's what I did. Stinky had a final that got over about at about 3:30. We headed to Des Moines and met Coadster downtown. We had a nice dinner and headed over to the show.

We got there just in time. About a minute after we found our seats and sat down, Tears For Fears came out and put on a great show. Hall and Oates was fine too. I think Oates might be a little weaker in his voice than Hall, but they did all of their songs and we sang and chair danced and I wanted to try and embarrass my girls, but they were singing and dancing just as loudly and crazily as I was.

The concert got over around 11 and when we were walking to out cars, we saw people heading from the concert to different bars. Some of these people were at least as old as me and I thought to myself, "For the love of god. What is wrong with you people? How are you staying up past eleven without the help of a wheelchair?" Clearly, they have discovered the fountain of youth and clearly, I have not.

We spent the night at Coadster's apartment, and were awakened by the cutest girl dog you could ever imagine.

Coadster had to work that day, so Stinky and I stopped at the Machine Shed to eat breakfast, before we started touristing.

We went to the sculpture garden and it was very pretty. I really liked the Keith Haring sculpture.

The driftwood horse sculpture was also pretty cool looking.

The next stop was the zoo. We wanted to see the baby rhino and the baby giraffe there.

Sadly, they were working on a new facility for the giraffes so we weren't able to see the baby and the rhinos were hiding, so we saw a small part of that baby wedged between his mom and a wall.

Instead, we went to the petting zoo and fed goats and llamas and calves and then I got to take a photo of Stinky with her head inside the mouth of a hippo too. Like mother like daughter.

We also got to pet a baby crocodile? Alligator? Crocogator? They were filming something for a news segment and the photographer asked me if we wanted to pet whatever the hell kind of creature it was. Yes, we did.

It was pretty cool.

We got to see the red panda on the way out of the zoo and then we headed back to Iowa City. Stinky had to work, and I had (got) to go ride mountain bikes before it rained the next day.

I feel so lucky that my girls both live close enough for us all to be able to dork-out together.