Thursday, June 29, 2017

There's an Air of Love and of Happiness

Ode to Summer:

Last night when John got back from having dinner with his mom,

We sat on the porch with our cat.

The sun was just setting, leaving brilliant streaks of peach and coral in its wake.

It would "not go gently into that good night".

It would make a grand exit.

And as it sunk and the sky darkened, we noticed the blinking lights in our yard -

On and off. On and off.

Lightning Bugs.

Our cat lifted his head and became very attentive, thinking it was something he might hunt.

But quickly realized it was outside of his domain on the other side of the screen.

He laid his head back down and we all enjoyed the second act.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

And the Leaves That Were Green Turned to Brown. And They Wither With the Wind and They Cumble in Your Hand.

Man, if you ever want a lot of extra drama and conflict in your life, grow a garden. People make it seem like it's some kind of relaxing, zen type experience, but let me tell you, baby, it's war. War!

The Monday after I came back from TOMRV, I woke up with the worst migraine I've had in months. Stupid hormones crashing...I had to call in sick to work, take my migraine meds and pass-out in my bed for most of the day.

When I finally did wake up, having shaken off most of the migraine pain and dizzyness, I went outside to obsess over my garden and then I was hit with the garden devastation. The deer had discovered my plants and seemed to REALLY like our Swiss Chard, green beans and beets. Damn them!

I'm not sure what other kinds of bacchanalian, debauched, animal, solstice, celebration took place in our yard on Sunday night, but I also found a dead vole on our driveway. What the hell?

Because my husband is an incredible person with an eye for detail, he looked up ways to dissuade the deer. It is amazing some of the creepy things people tell you to do. John's co-worker said his grandpa always collected human hair from barber shops, stuffed the hair into panty hose and lined his garden with it. Ew! Fortunately, John found an easier, affordable way to keep them out of the garden. He bought some very tall stakes, placed them on the corners of the garden about a foot away from the fence and then we strung fishing line around the garden. It's supposed to work because deer can't see it at night, so when they try to jump in the garden and feel it, they don't know what it is and they get scared. It's been working so far, but deer have an annoying ability to adapt and we'll see if it works for the rest of the growing season.

For an extra measure, Stinky and I, with some supervision from the grand puppy, spray painted cat food cans that John and I saved and cleaned and we hung them up around the garden, hoping that the noise they make works to scare critters off as well.

Even if they don't work, it was a beautiful day and a fun project with my baby girl.

Right now, our garden is kicking so much ass. We have baby eggplant starting to grow...

...And most of the flowers are blooming.

I was even able to pull the garlic up a littler earlier than usual.

Of course, this week my garden was visited by those awful Japanese beetles that want to eat everything. This war, I fought alone. I bought some Neem oil, mixed it with water and sprayed it on the leaves of most of my plants. It's supposed to kill aphids and bugs and mites (which we also have). I ran into a friend of mine who told me that I should kill the beetles in soapy water and leave the bucket with the water and dead beetles by my plants because beetles can smell the other dead bugs (I smell dead people?) and stay away from the garden. Nature is so weird.

On a more positive note, one of my co-workers found out I lost most of my beets and she gave me some from her garden. So nice.

So, we'll see what happens with the critters and the bugs and I'll have to figure out different strategies to deal with the next garden invasion. Get a garden, they said. It will be so peaceful and good for the soul, they said...Lying bastards.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

And Either Way, These Days We're Not as in Control as We Think

So, I'm going to try really hard to play catch-up with blog posts this week. We'll see how that goes...

On June 10th and 11th we rode TOMRV with our friends. It's a long touring ride up and down the Mississippi River. 106 miles with 6,000 feet of climbing on the first day and 90 miles with 4,000 feet of climbing the second day.

This was the 4th time I did TOMRV and it was a doozy. Most of our group had some kind of issue. One of the guys crashed on his bike the week before and had stitches that he wouldn't quit messing with, the other guy pulled his hamstring doing farm work, I got my period for the first time in a couple of months and I was weak and in pain. John was fine, though. So, one out of four ain't bad?

The first part of the ride was just great. We had a nice tailwind and the the big hills didn't start until later on in the day.

We made it to Sabula (the only island town in Iowa (on the Mississippi River)). We decided to stop and get ice cream and it was a brilliant decision.

I had to stop and get a photo on Broad Street. I'm sure all of us broads have to.

We crossed the Mississippi for the first time that day without a hitch.

We stopped in a little town right before we got to the bigger hills. One of the guys and I split a very large bottle of chocolate milk that seemed like a good idea at the time, but turned sour once we were trying to ride up very long and steep hills.

I was able to get an album cover shot photo of the boys on the stairs of a motel, so that was good...

By the time we left the ski resort and started heading for Galena, I started to lose it. Lose my strength, lose my emotions and lose my ability to function properly.

I was hoping the rest in Galena would help, but even after a salad and some iced tea, I had some serious struggles on the way to Dubuque.

My legs were so weak and my breathing so shallow and labored, that I wasn't sure if I was going to make it up even some of the smaller hills. I did have a bit of a panic attack at one point and that was a lot of fun...Or not. Then, when we got to the bridge to cross the Mississippi again to get to Dubuque, there was a crazy cross wind. So, we are riding a highway bridge with semi's passing us at over 60 mph on our left side and a strong wind trying to blow us over the railing and into the Mississippi River on our right. Another time in my life that I was glad I weighed 15 lbs more than I did last year at that time.

Anyway, we made it to Dubuque, ate good food and I passed-out around 9 o'clock.

Sunday was another day. I wasn't sure how I would feel and if I'd be able to ride after Saturday. We got up, ate breakfast. Fixed the slow flat I got on Saturday, in addition to everything else that day, and headed out.

The hills were crazy at the beginning of our ride. It was about 95 degrees out and a strong headwind. I was able to ride okay at first. We met a few other friends and at about 29 miles in, we reached the town of Belleview. It is gorgeous and right on the Mississippi River.

We found this great place to eat called The Flatted Fifth. It was an old Mill and it was right on the river. As you can see, it almost looks like a little Irish Cottage by the bike racks.

Our friend, Mr Heck, was having problems with his ankle that had the stitches, so he decided to get a ride back home with our friend, Burne's girlfriend. The rest of us headed back onto the road

We rode another 20 miles or so, when our friend Burne just turned his bike off the road and rode to a farm house with a big tree in front. My foot was killing me by then. I think it was just swollen from all of the water I was retaining (pretty) and so John and I followed him and sprawled out for a bit to collect ourselves.

When we got to Goose Lake, my goose was cooked. I told John that I was going to take the sag wagon to the end and wait for him there. When I asked the driver if he had room for one more, out friend Burne yelled, "Two! Room for two more." I asked John if he wanted to still ride or hop on the wagon and he said he'd keep riding.

We made it back to the end in Bettendorf and some other friends of ours, who also stopped in Goose Lake showed up to get their cars.

We had a nice talk about how brutal the heat and winds were and then they took off for home.

Burne went to the store and got some beer, and gatorade and ice cream, so that John would have something when he got done. He finished up and told us his riding stories and said it was tough riding the whole way back. Then a few women racers we know showed up. They had ridden the whole thing too, but said they were dying. We all sat around and told stories about our rides and drank a beer and then we packed up and headed home. 

Will I do TOMRV next year. Sure. Probably. Hopefully, the winds and my hormones will control themselves and it will be a better weekend.

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.