Sunday, May 31, 2015

I Come From Open Prairie. Given Some Wisdom and a Lot of Jive.

I do love it when my boyfriend sends me things saying how much he appreciates the things about me that most people think are weird. Here was an email he sent me last week when I was at work that made me very happy:

"I put a cast on an eleven year old girl this morning. The whole time Dad was talking and her three brothers were tearing around the castroom. They told me she's going to camp next week and she's obviously excited, though she hasn't been before. Dad says, "Yeah, it's a girl only thing. I figure that's okay 'cause she's always hanging out with nothing but us boys." There's no sign or mention of Mom. When Dad continues with "She's a bit of a tomboy" the girl looks a little embarassed. "Nothing wrong with that," I tell her, "My partner's a tomboy, and she's loads of fun. She's almost as old as me and she still runs and bikes and swims all the time." That got a smile out of her."

If I'm going to be this weird and hyper, it's nice that there is a person on this earth who finds it endearing. I am one lucky tomboy.

Friday, May 29, 2015

There is Freedom Within. There is Freedom Without. Try to Catch the Deluge in a Paper Cup.

I met a new zombie statue friend on my run.

It looks like I'm getting behind on my posting...Again. On Sunday it rained, and rained and rained. It turned out okay, because we were scheduled to go to a family lunch for John's mom's side and we had to make food for it. So, I cooked, and cooked, and cooked. I made spicy peanut butter slaw, hummus, veggie refried beans, veggie enchiladas, Mexican rice and guacamole. That oughta get us through the week.

After we got back from the family party, John and I both went running. It was just cloudy when I started, but the rain picked up again during my run. It was warm enough, that it felt pretty good.

On Monday morning, we headed to Davenport, so John could get a race in.

It was cloudy when we got there. John went off to warm up on his bike, and I went along the river for a run. Obviously, I stopped several times to take photos. It rained for a little bit and then stopped. I got in 4.7 miles altogether and was nice and sweaty by the time John's race started.

I am such a dork. I ran up the ramp and ran along this bridge, just because it was there and looked cool and I could. I really am lucky to be THAT easily amused.

John's race went well. It was in this nice little area right by the Mississippi River with lots of cute shops and restaurants and bars. I had a great time walking the course and taking photos of his race. The guy who was John's biggest competition in Iowa, had a slow leak, so John was able to beat him this time and finish 6th overall. That's a great showing in a race with people from California, Minneapolis and Chicago showing up.

After the race, I ordered tacos at Rudy's and we sat outside at a table eating lunch, watching the races and waiting for John to be able to pick up his prize money. It was another beautiful day.

I was singing bad 80's songs to the cows and they all came over to me. At first I thought they liked my singing, then I realized they thought I was going to feed them.

We headed home, so we could meet our friends for a nice, easy social ride at 2 pm. The weather was so lovely. It was a tad windy, but that kept us from getting too warm. We rode to a little town called Solon, about 17.5 hilly miles from us.

When we do these social rides with our friends, we are all at different strengths and speeds as riders, so we either ride slowly with the person who isn't quite as strong, or we go a little ahead and then wait at designated spots and regroup. That way we keep people from getting lost, or if anyone has a mechanical, we can help get that fixed.

On the way out, we saw some cyclists on the other side of the road, photographing us bombing down the hill on our road bikes. I had no idea who it was, until I got home and one of the guys who prerides RAGBRAI every year to make sure all the logistics work, posted this on Facebook and tagged me in it. I love it. This right here, is one of the things that make me happiest in the world - bombing downhill on a fun bike ride with my friends in perfect weather. Crazy how that hasn't changed since I was a 10 year old kid.

All this rehashing of last weekend is getting me really excited about this weekend. Here's to bike rides, gardening, running and reading excellent books! I am reading a book called "Remember Me Like This". It takes place in Corpus Christi, Texas and it's about a family who's son was kidnapped and held for 4 years by a gross, awful man. Most of the story takes place after they find the boy and deals with how the family handles things on his return. It is very intense and incredibly well written.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

This the Dawning of the Rest of Our Lives on Holiday

Man, did I have a wonderful weekend! It feels like it lasted weeks, in the good way. I took a half day off on Friday, so it was a 3 1/2 day weekend. Even better.

I got so much done on Friday, because I wasn't sure how much it was going to rain and I knew the one sunny day we'd have on Saturday, would be spent at a bike race in Burlington, Iowa.

Saturday was truly lovely. Warm and sunny. We headed to Burlington and John warmed-up for his race, while I ran along the Mississippi River. It was pretty cool scenery and I got about 3 and a half miles in.

I headed to the car, changed out of my sweaty, stinky running clothes and went down to Snake Alley, the 2nd crookedest Street in the country, besides Lombard Street in San Francisco. I have raced it the last 3 years, but it's not a good race for me. I'm too big to get up that hill very quickly. I'm glad I've raced it and I still may do it again, but it was also nice not to have the stress. Some of our friends showed up and all I had to do is sit around with them, take photos and heckle the racers. Perfect.

John did great. he got 6th place in a really tough field. He beat a couple of guys who are very strong racers too. We watched a few other races and headed to get some some pizza at Napoleon's.  On the way there we saw this great sign. My friend Dawn and I were so classy that we had to get a photo of our sizzle wagons parked there too.

After lunch, John and I were tired and still wanted to get a work-out in, so we headed back  home. I did a time trial work-out on my bike, while John went for a 6 mile run. Then we had a cocktail on our porch and I made BBQ shrimp shish-kabob over brown rice for dinner. It was a lovely day, but boy-howdy was I exhausted by 9 o'clock on a Saturday night.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Here is Coadster doing her happy dance after the Cubs won. She can do another one now that she got a job. Yea! She is the only history education major in her class who got a job teaching in Iowa. She will be teaching in the Quad Cities, so she'll be moving back in with us, staying in my beloved reading room, and commuting to the Quad Cities from our house. She'll have to go back to Des Moines to see her man and her dog on weekends and holidays. She is very excited, as we all are! Go! Teach! Win!

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Well It's All right, If You Live the Life You Please.

 Sunday was our last day in Chicago. Our plan was to get up early and run and then maybe swim in the pool and use the hot tub. We didn't wake up until after 8. That was the first time since I can't remember that I've had over 9 hours of straight sleep.

It was misty and foggy, but still warm and humid when John and I went out for our run. There were fewer people out as well. It could have been the weather or it could be just that it was a Sunday. While John and I were taking photos of each other against the foggy backdrop, a couple stopped and asked if we wanted them to take a pic of both of us. What the hell? So, we got a good, sweaty, stinky shot of us, complete with frizz halo above my head. It's actually kind of perfect.

We headed back to the hotel and the kids were all ready to head out on our next adventure.

Coadster wanted to go to Millenium park and check out the Bean. I had done a little research and saw that there was also a cool fountain and the art around the band shell was another thing to see.

We headed down there. Coadster was in a bit of a hurry, since she had to pick her dog up in the Quad Cities and also had a longer drive than the rest of us. She and I look at life a little differently as well, so I end up making her a little stabby from time to time. She tends to look at life as something to get things done during. To be economical and practical and not waste time. I look at life as an adventure - preferably, the goofier the better. I like to "waste" time checking things out, taking my time and I like to go with things and see where they go. Because of all of that I just said, she got a little annoyed with me and her sister and both of our male companions.

We made it to the park more slowly than she and her male companion, but we got some awesomely funny photos...So there. Coadster calmed down a bit when we got to the park and saw how great it was. They loved the fountain part where they make it look like people are spitting water out at us. We all agreed that if we didn't have to get into a car and sit in wet clothes for several hours, we would have been all over playing in the water.

From the park, we headed to the most highly recommended place to eat Chicago style pizza. Coadster wanted that for her birthday lunch, and we were all on board.

Of course, we got caught up in taking more goofy photos and pissed Coadster off even more, but you can't look at that photo above of the guys mimicking the swimsuit mannequins and tell me it wasn't worth it...Okay. Maybe you can, but you are probably much more mature than we are.

We did try to pick up our pace and made it to the pizza place, just a little over a minute after Coadster and her boyfriend. That's pretty good for me.

When we finished eating and made it to John's car in the ramp, we discovered that his battery had died for whatever reason. At first we tried to push it, so John could try and pop the clutch. We couldn't get it going fast enough for that to work, so I went to the ramp office and no one was there. I kept knocking and wandered around a bit, until the woman attendant showed. She gave us a jump and we were finally off. Since that was the only real hiccup in the whole trip, we considered ourselves pretty damn lucky.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

You Know the Night Time, Darling, is the Right Time to be With the Ones You Love, Now.

The Chicago goodness carried over from Friday and then magnified itself. John and I woke-up around 7, which meant we only got about 5 hours of sleep. I was a little tired, but there was a lot of stuff I wanted to pack into the day, so we got up and got moving.

John and I headed down to eat our complimentary breakfast (it was a lie. It didn't tell me I was pretty even once) and then got ready for our first run in the city. As I've said many times, running and cycling are my favorite ways to check out a new location.

 We headed to Navy Pier. I know it's a tourist trap, but I had never been there before, and it was at least fun to look at during our run. It was also a good way to check things out that we wouldn't normally see.

We ran on the Lakefront trail and it was great. There were so many people out walking, running, riding, skating and walking their dogs that were wearing little ruffly dresses.

We got back from our run, right as Coadster and her boyfriend arrived. John and I took showers and we all worked on figuring out the whats and whens and wheres of lunching.

 We decided on an Irish Pub not far from our hotel. It was great food, and our waiter was wonderful at his job, and VERY easy on the eyes. Double bonus.

 We rode the train to Wrigleyville. There were tons of Cubs and Pirates fans on board and much good-natured ribbing between the fans of the two teams. We got to Wrigleyville around 1:30 and set out to find our rooftop deck. Having done that, we went to a bar called the Cubby Bear where John ran into a woman he worked with. She said she had been drinking since 8 in the morning and my liver hurt just thinking about that.

There was a threat of rain all week, but by the time Saturday rolled around, it was sunny and warm. VERY warm, in fact. Stinky was a little overdressed and I was so glad I just wore shorts, a tank top and a pair of Keens.

We had unlimited food and drink with the price of our tickets. It was so hot out, that I was mostly drinking Pepsi and water, but at the ballpark, that would at least cost me $5 a drink. It was a comfortable and pleasant way to watch my first professional baseball game.

The game itself was great. Coadster was glad that the Cubs, not only won for her birthday, but also entertained us by one batter slipping the bat out of his hands and accidentally hitting a woman in the stands (she wasn't hurt) and another fielder making an incredible catch.

We left the game and went to a bar called John Barleycorn to wait for most of the people to clear out of Wrigleyville, so we could fit on the train.

On the way back to our hotel, we stopped at a bakery to get Coadster some birthday cake. Turns out, she didn't want cake at all but Macaroons. She has always been a HUGE fan of coconut.Strange girl.

We were all pretty exhausted, but Coadster wanted to go out, since we were in Chicago. So, we headed over to Navy Pier to get an appetizer and a drink. It was packed. We were going to try to do the ferris wheel, but the lines for tickets and then for the ferris wheel itself were too long.

Everyone on their phones except for me. I'm old and prefer to talk to the people I'm hanging out with.

Since we were all tired and overwhelmed, John had a great idea. We would take the kids to the cool, outdoor bar we saw on the beach while we were running. It was perfect. It was quiet and they had this funky, cabana seating. We all had a drink and some appetizers and kicked around the idea of maybe going down to the hot tub at our hotel, but it was clear the minute we got to our room, that none of us, had it in us. We all pretty much crashed the minute we could. We were all tired in the best way.

Monday, May 18, 2015

In Chicago, Chicago, Chicago. That's My Home Town.

 So, this weekend was wonderful. Coadster decided not to drive all the way to Chicago on Friday, so instead she and her boyfriend spent the night at his parent's house in the Quad Cities and met us on Saturday.

We left for Chicago right after work on Friday with Stinky and her boyfriend. John was nice enough to do all of the driving and it was pretty uneventful, except for the construction on the way in.

We got into town around 9'ish and by the time we checked in to our hotel and my friend Sarah and her boyfriend got there, it was closer to 10. They took us to a dive bar downtown, called Rossi's.

It was packed, but it was great people watching and they had a bunch of great craft beer.

We stayed out way longer than I thought we would. It was great to talk to Sarah and her boyfriend again. by around midnight, they said they had to get going. We were all pretty tired and headed back to the hotel as well.

We decided to stop at the restaurant/bar that was underneath our hotel, because they had a second happy hour from midnight to 3 am. Stinky's boyfriend was pretty sweet. He knew we wouldn't let him pay, so he snuck-up to our server and gave her his credit card. I had the ceviche as my appetizer and it was really good. We ended up finally getting to bed around 2. I can't remember the last time I stayed up that late.

Friday, May 15, 2015

I'm Glad It's Your Birthday. Happy Birthday to You.

I love the drool spot Coadster left on my shoulder here.
Coadster was born on a Friday on this day in 1992. She is turning 23 today and I feel so lucky to be her mom. We are headed to Chicago after work today to hang out and watch a Cubs game tomorrow. We're hoping for no rain. We have a hotel in the heart of everything, so it should be a fun weekend.

The cats will be missing us, but they will be guarding our house, along with an excellent cat/house-sitter...Not that we live in a cat house, but we are going to have someone come over and watch our cats and  house while we're gone.

I've been working on the cartoon'ish drawing for that painting I did a month or so ago. This is what I have so far. It looked better before I put it in my bag and it got rained on my commute home from work. Although, it's created some interesting, unintentional shading. I'll probably change it 100 more times before I actually stick it on the painting...

Archie is a little excited about us leaving. When we take-off for a weekend or longer, we let the cats free feed and they get DRY FOOD! Dry food is like eating potato chips all day for cats. There isn't much substance, but it apparently tastes really, really good. I have no doubt that Archie will eat his weight in dry food this weekend...And he is definitely already of quite an impressive girth.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

I Could Sleep for a Thousand Years.

Heidi was "helping" John build the shelf for his mom's Mother's Day gift.

 On Sunday I woke-up feeling kind of crappy. I know I like to blame everything on hormones, but at my age, I'm usually right.

I was dizzy, tired and not only did I not feel like running or riding, I was too tired to even read my book. so, I listened to my body and gave myself a "Get Out of Jail Free Card" day.

I went back to bed and then woke up in time to go for a lovely brunch with John, his mom, my girls and one of their boyfriends. The food was great and the company was even better. It's been a while since I've been lucky enough to spend Mother's Day with both of my girls.

The rest of the day, I spent resting and relaxing. John went out for a bike ride. I stayed home and slept. When I woke-up, I felt much better. I wasn't ready to run a marathon or anything, but I wasn't quite so dizzy, tired and weak. We ordered pizza for dinner and then I read my book for about an hour or so before bed, while eating ice cream. It may not have been one of my most energetic Mother's Days, but it was still just fine and I got to hang out with both my girls and John and his mom. So, I was happy.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

And It Makes Me Feel So Fine I Can't Control My Brain

John pointing out the log that some people are supposed to ride. People who are not us, apparently.

 Things have been a little crazy here lately. Our condo fell though for our Chicago weekend, so we've been scrambling to find something last minute. We have one more expensive option so far, and are waiting to find out about a less expensive option. I'll keep you all posted when I find out for sure.

Now, back to last weekend: Friday was lovely. Coadster came to town. I went on a quick run after work and then we had one of Coadster's favorite meals: Garlic butter salmon, baked potatoes and corn. We sat on the porch and talked for a bit, then watched the movie, "Wild". I was the only one who had read the book, and we all agreed it was pretty good, just a bit confusing in parts if you haven't read the book.

Those long, skinny bridges scare the poop out of me.

 On Saturday, John went to work on the mountain bike trails. I wanted to help again, but we had way too much to do in our own yard. I told John that he should go clean-up the trails and I would mow and work on our yard and run some errands. Team work!

When he got back, we packed up the mountain bikes and headed to the trails in Cedar Rapids. We rode for about an hour and a half. I wasn't feeling the best, but riding my bike makes everything better.

The gnats are out now, so I have to remember to bring my Bug Soother, everywhere I go for the next couple of months.

Coadster got back from her history nerd trip to the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library around 7. We took her to Frida Kahlo's in Solon for dinner, because the food is pretty good and her boyfriend doesn't like Mexican food, so she doesn't get to go out for it very often.

What a great start to my Mother's Day weekend.

Friday, May 08, 2015

And I'm Just High on the World.

The last of my bleeding hearts.

Well, it's Friday, so there are cats on the blog, as usual, and there will also be some numbers. I have a lot of passions...Besides harassing my cats. I love to read, write, paint, run, ride, swim and cross-country ski. Just for fun, or because I'm weird...Or really, because my mom died when she was 43 and ever since then, I've had this thing about feeling like I'll never get enough of the stuff I love done before I die, I decided to add it all up this week. To see how I'm doing for the year.

My cat is a weirdo.
 Reading and writing: I haven't written even one short story or even a fragment all year. Something to work on. I have written 77 blog posts this year.

I have read 12 books so far this year - 2 nonfiction and 10 novels. I haven't read any short story collections yet.
John and his cat bonding on our porch.
 I have started one painting a couple of months ago and haven't finished it yet. I have ideas for 3 more. I guess I better get crackin' on those.

The sun rising over my favorite barn to run past.
And now for the work-out/playing stats:

CX-country skiing: 28.77 miles
Lap swimming: 18.20 hours
running: 311.46 miles
bike trainer (indoor): 7.48 hours
outdoor cycling: 1001.56 miles

I had figured out my bike miles earlier this week, but forgot about 200 commuter miles. I had about twice the biking miles by this time last year, but my knee was screwed up, so I couldn't run. I'm pretty happy with the balance of work-outs, I just need to increase the intensity of the bike rides and add open water swimming to the mix. There's always something to improve upon...

Thursday, May 07, 2015

Caught by the Rain and Blinded by the Lightning.

The cows guarding their food source.

It's been raining here a lot this week. I feel like I've been slipping in workouts between rain drops...Or raging thunderstorms. Either one.

Yesterday it was supposed to storm after 4. So, I took a half day off to go on a "fun" bike ride. I love to go on bike adventures by myself.

I knew there was a South wind, but I didn't realize how hard it was blowing. I headed to the town of Lone Tree, where John's dad's family is from. It's a very small farming town. I mapped out the route ahead of time and knew that it would be a 41.1 mile route. Perfect for the time I had.

Once I got out of town and away from structures that might block it, I realized just how strong the winds were. They were killing me going South, and then the crosswinds were jerking me around so much, I cringed every time a semi passed me, because the back draft pulled me so hard.

Tank girl.
I finally made it to Lone Tree and decided to sit on the big Army tank at the town park and eat a Cliff bar, drink some water and watch the cars go by, while I rested up for the ride home.

The ride home was lovely with that strong tailwind. I turned West on 520 and saw it. That storm that was expected was looming in the distance. Dark clouds and those showers you can see coming from the sky and the hot air was battling the sudden cooler air. Crap! I hightailed it back home. I got from Lone Tree to Iowa City in less than 40 minutes. It's amazing what fear and a good tailwind can do for your speed...