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15 posts from July 2010

29 July 2010

Hm.

There's been a lot going on -- mostly really great, or good, or so-so stuff -- and I'm pretty excited about some of it on the inside, but sort of ho-hum on the outside.

Before I go any further, I have to say:  F-Troop, Hogan's Heroes, and Lassie!  I can't believe I forgot them and that's what's popped into my head these last couple of days when I thought about blogging!

Carole blogged about her stats today, which is apropros because I had a recent contest somewhat related to stats, Carole was the winner of said contest by leaving the 16,000th comment here, and I've been meaning to blog about it!  I believe the final touches on her prize package were made yesterday, but I haven't sealed up the box yet, just in case... I plan to tape it up and send it off on Saturday.

Carole visits here pretty regularly; I've had occasion to meet her in person, too, rubbing elbows at the hotel reception desk in Poughkeepsie or in line for Artichokes French at Rhinebeck, but I've not had the opportunity to really visit with her -- and I'd like to -- so I hope that happens someday.  In the meantime, Thanks for visiting, Carole!!!

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My Typepad "stats" page gives different information than Carole's blogging platform.  I can tell you that there have been 549,856 lifetime pageviews since this blog began on the First Day of Spring 2004; the average number of pageviews each day is 236.8; I've written 1820 posts and, as of this second, there have been 16,060 comments -- and I have NOT answered each and every one.  Sorry.  I really am.  It bothers me a lot, but I've had to learn to live with the guilt.

It's not really the same, but my guilt is somewhat assuaged by the fact that there have been virtual stampedes through here on occasion without a single Howdy-do.  I was shocked to discover a HUGE spike in visitors over a 3-day period last month -- more than 5 times the usual -- and I had absolutely no clue until I randomly checked my stats several days later -- Typepad shows those pageviews on a graph, so it really was a spike!  It was kind of weird, but I sort of understand... I'm a lurker to the nth degree, myself.

I don't know which of my posts have had the most action -- I'm guessing maybe one having to do with quitting smoking, maybe St. Brigid, or maybe my brother's accident, possibly my recent knitting obsession having to do with sock yarn and board game-inspired blankets.  I can tell you that the most views (1399) on any one day here was March 11, 2009 -- but I have no idea what that was all about; it couldn't possibly have been because of that day's post because it was virtually nothing.

Whatever.  Stats can be interesting, but it's the folks blogging to make money who REALLY care, regularly check, interpret and dissect them -- it's just for occasional entertainment over here.

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Oh my gosh, can you smell that basil?  Mmmmm.

27 July 2010

Ten on Tuesday: TV Alternatives

Ten on Tuesday10 Things to Do Instead of Watching TV

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I've been thinking about my TV viewing quite a bit of late, as I'm growing ever more serious about cutting the cable.  I even called last week and priced some alternatives.

I watch a fair amount of TV -- sometimes more, sometimes less, sometimes hardly at all -- I always have and suspect I always will; frankly, and with no apologies, I LOVE TV.

It started with Romper Room and progressed to (in no particular order) Captain Kangaroo, Shari Lewis & Lambchop, Snagglepuss, Casper, Wyle E. Coyote, The Flintstones, (all of Hanna-Barbera), Let's Make A Deal, The $25,000 Pyramid, Jeopardy, Wheel of Fortune, Hollywood Squares, Password, Batman, Dark Shadows, The Galloping Gourmet, American Bandstand, The Beatles, The Monkees, The Partridge Family, The Brady Bunch, The Honeymooners, After-School Specials, Green Acres, Gilligan's Island, I Love Lucy, The Carol Burnett Show, Three's Company, Home Improvement, Saturday Night Live, The Midnight Special, Sunday Night at The Movies, Phil Donahue, Mike Douglas, Dick Cavett, Ed Sullivan, Andy Williams, Bob Hope, Johnny Carson, Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In, The Smothers Brothers, Little House On The Prairie, How The West Was Won, Bonanza, Gunsmoke, The Big Valley, The Rockford Files, The Streets of San Francisco, Mannix, Miami Vice, L.A. Law, Boston Legal, Hawaii Five-O, CHiPS, Baretta, Starsky & Hutch, Magnum P.I., Hill Street Blues, The Six Million Dollar Man, Murder She Wrote, MacMillan & Wife, Hart to Hart, Charlie's Angels, Fantasy Island, All In The Family, Family Ties, The Love Boat, The Dick Van Dyke Show, The Mary Tyler Moore Show, Murphy Brown, Cagney & Lacey, Laverne & Shirley, The Cosby Show, One Day at a Time, Happy Days, Good Times, Dallas, Roots, Cheers, M*A*S*H, E.R., not to mention entire franchises such as Star Trek, CSI, Law & Order, channels such as HBO, and the birth and heyday of MTV and music videos... don't even get me started... and I'm leaving out about a million shows, not to mention networks... Bravo, The Food Network, American Movie Classics, Turner Classic Movies, The Discovery Channel.

Currently, I'm loving the reality shows that have to do with creativity -- So You Think You Can Dance, Dancing With The Stars, Project Runway, Top Chef, Iron Chef, Hell's Kitchen, Cupcake Wars, etc.  Also Glee!  (I love musicals!)  The Closer.

What's not to love?  My viewing is cyclical and sporadic -- very much influenced by the other things going on in my life and, especially, the weather/seasons.  The DVR is one of the best inventions ever, and so is high-speed internet, streaming video, Netflix, and a whole bunch of technology that at one point in my life I'd have been totally up on but I lost the trail a long time ago, so, yeah...

It was always sort of a treat to watch TV when I was a kid -- I had more of an awareness and desire of TV programs than I ever had regular viewing time -- and have some vivid memories of what I missed -- like The Beatles on Ed Sullivan because we were visiting my aunt and, despite my silent prayers, left for home just as the show was starting.  Dark Shadows was forbidden at my house -- which made it ever so delicious to catch an episode at LuAnn's house!  I don't remember my mom and dad ever watching much -- Dad like boxing and Sunday afternoon football, often the news (Walter Cronkite), special events (astronauts on the moon!).

When I was about 11, our TV (black & white - the only one we had) shorted just as summer vacation started and my parents didn't replace it all summer.  I read a lot that year, and helped Mimi (who was a few years older than me and lived across the street) organize a big neighborhood carnival in our yard.  I think that was also the year I tried volunteering -- first as companion to a rich widow (I just walked right up and knocked on the door) and then, when told that my services weren't required there, at a nearby nursing home -- where I was also turned away, told that I was too young.

What's a kid to do, then, but build forts, form air guitar bands, and put on shows in the garage!

ToT-Button Haha!  This has been fun.  Without further ado, my list:

1.  Go to a local Farmers' Market -- most are held on Saturday mornings, but around here there's at least one weekday morning market that I know of, and I think there's an afternoon/after-work market nearby, too.

2.  Cook something using ingredients acquired at the Farmers' Market!

3.  Tend the garden -- plant, weed, harvest.

4.  Take a day-trip!

5.  Plan something and/or make a list -- things-to-do, groceries, a menu, vacation, knitting projects.

6.  Read!

7.  Listen to music -- and dance!

8.  Start something!  You know, one of those other things you've always wanted to try... or get back to.

9.  Purge something -- a closet, the junk drawer, filing cabinet -- it feels so good!

10.  Go for a bike ride!

26 July 2010

25

Hi.  I'm an overweight (thank you, menopause and quitting smoking), 51-year-old, bakery-loving, chocolate-hoarding, not-so-much-with-the-exercising (why can't knitting and photography* be more cardio-vascular?), woman who birthed three children -- I'm sure I need not elaborate further, you get the picture -- and I rode 25 miles on my bike yesterday!!

Along with (actually, lagging behind the whole way) Katie, I took part in the 24th Annual Best Friends (of Neenah-Menasha) Gourmet Bike Tour.  Twenty-five miles is my longest distance, so far, and considering that I took my first ride three weeks ago, that's really nothing short of freakin' amazing!  I say so!!

You can bet, I took special notice of the 14.3-mile mark and gave myself a mental high-five -- that's the distance for my bike leg of the triathlon relay coming up in three weeks!

I stopped five times -- twice for water and cookies (one each time -- I might have resisted had I not spied the Snickerdoodles), once for only water, and twice to take photos.  I carried the camera in a Slingshot backpack the whole 25 miles, too.  (I'm working on a separate post about carrying the camera.)

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We started just before 9 a.m. on a gorgeous morning and finished at just about noon -- right next to some folks checking in upon completion of the 55-mile route.  Granted, they started a bit earlier than us -- and it wasn't a race in any way, shape, or form -- and holy frick, I just SURVIVED RIDING 25 MILES -- but I'm pretty sure that we'll be doing the 55-mile route next year, if not the 75-.

*Actually, photographing a toddler can be a darn good workout!

23 July 2010

Wow!

So.  I had a great day in Door County with my mom, Katie, and Ali yesterday.  Maddy stayed home to "mind the store" before her mid-afternoon departure for a weekend visit with friends in Milwaukee.

I didn't take a single photo yesterday -- a great day for antiquing, lunching, and shopping (i.e., mostly raining) didn't translate to the most picturesque.  Oh, we had fun, though!

There were interesting antiques to look at, but we (Mom) came away with only a postcard and a button.  Across the road from the show site is a shopping complex where one of Mom's high school friends has a gift shop, so we stopped in to say, "Hi."

Well, Mom went to say "Hi" to Lois, Kate & Al went to look at baby stuff (a friend's shower is coming up) and, lo and behold, I parked right smack in front of Red Sock Yarns (Rav link, no website yet) -- so you know where I went!  Red Sock Yarns was totally on my list of things to do yesterday, but I was thinking a completely different shopping complex.  It's a very nice shop -- comfortable, roomy, friendly.  I bought a hank of Paca-Peds H-T by The Alpaca Yarn Co. that will most like not become socks; there's a cute baby sweater pattern on the website that's a definite possibility.

We went to The Cookery for lunch -- long a favorite of mine, it had been closed due to a fire (and subsequent rebuilding) the last few times I visited Door County.  Yesterday, I was able to enjoy a Turkey, Cream Cheese & Cherry Chutney Sandwich -- I looked at the menu, but this was pretty much a foregone conclusion -- served on toasted granola (w/raisins) bread and with dill new potato salad and a nice chunky applesauce.  Oh yeah.  Oh yum.

We stopped at a few shops and markets that we'd never taken the time for before and then headed home.  We were about 15 miles from Green Bay at about 4:30, with a pretty steady rain falling, when Maddy called my cell phone.  She was extremely distraught, about 2/3 of the way to her destination and caught in severe weather -- we're talking limited visibility due to darkness (at 4:30 on a July day) and pounding rain, and tornado warnings to top the cake.

That's a pretty stressful situation.  I calmed her down as best I could, and advised that she get off the highway as soon as possible.  She didn't want to pull over and stop, even under an overpass, because visibility was that bad -- she was afraid that no one would see her.

Experiencing crappy weather on our end, we came upon and slowed down to pass a couple of fire trucks on the side of the road and noticed that there was a vehicle flipped over on the side of the road.  "Katie," I said, handing her the phone, "call Maddy again."  She'd eventually came to an exit and found a gas station where she waited things out for a bit, but eventually she was back on the road.

By the time we spoke again, Maddy was much closer to Milwaukee and I was at home, but things were not good.  She was having difficulty navigating -- the GPS was directing her, trying to get her to I-43, but she was finding roads impassable, coming to flooded intersections, and encountering asshole drivers -- and it kept on raining.  She was all alone, in very unfamiliar territory, and afraid.

I was online trying to pinpoint her location/destination, using Google Maps (yay!), The Weather Channel, and (new & indispensable discovery) Traffic.com.  The poor girl was exhausted after going 'round in circles for a bit and the weather was just not letting up, so around 7:30 she pulled into a gas station lot and found a spot (there were a bunch of people with the same idea) to just sit and rest for a while.  She closed her eyes, read a little, then watched traffic -- to gauge traffic and discern whether she was seeing the same cars going back and forth.

In the meantime, I continued monitoring the weather and traffic, and familiarized myself with the map and different routing possibilities.  It wasn't very comforting to read about the fire truck disabled due to high water at an intersection -- those guys know the city and how to get from Point A to Point B more efficiently than anyone -- but it was GREAT to know that I-43 was definitely NOT where she should go, no matter what the GPS was suggesting!  Yikes!!

I realized later, that I was basically the poor girl's On*Star!  We stayed on the phone together, I listened to her talk to traffic (Cara, she sounded just like you!), she told me what she could see, where she was turning (in circles a few times, due to flooding), what it was looking like ahead and all around, and I was able to eventually guide her around some trouble spots and right to the door -- just before 9:30, I believe.  All told, it took her about 6 hours to get to her destination in Milwaukee -- usually that's a 2-hour drive-- it was a couple of hours to travel the last 10 miles!  Totally crazy.

Technology totally saved the day, you know?  The level of GPS service we have was not very helpful -- I'm not sure there's a level that would have been in this situation -- and it was definitely better than driving blind.  The ability to stay in contact via cell phone was SO helpful to keep her grounded in some scary, freak-out situations.  My ability to monitor several maps at once on the internet -- with traffic, weather and news updates -- and basically give her turn-by-turn directions (as well as info on where NOT to turn) (dead-end, a loop, etc.) -- was so incredibly cool, and gave me something to focus on (saving my sanity)!

Arguably.

Have a great (dry) weekend.

21 July 2010

Succulents don't suck

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They make me happy!  And I need a little happy.  I had some just the other day but I'm not sure where it went... I must have misplaced it!

Book club meets tonight!  We're discussing The Help -- you may recall that my "Help" went missing during the last month's jaunt to Wisconsin Dells.  I had to start another book in the meantime and just finished it last night, so hope the discussion won't ruin it for me.  Sometimes (lately) few members read the book and our meetings end up being pretty social affairs, but this particular book was read by most and discussion may be lively.

Tomorrow marks the beginning of my third 4-day weekend in a row.  That ought to make for a little bit of happy, eh?  I'll be heading to the Door County Antique Show in Fish Creek with Mom and Kate.  I'm not in the market for a darn thing, nor am I actively collecting anything at the moment, but you never know what you'll find!  I like to keep an open mind.  Lunch will definitely be a highlight of the day!  I'd like to hit a couple of yarn shops, too.

I plan to be a home-body on Friday and Saturday... maybe see if I remember how to turn on the vacuum cleaner... go the farmers' market... maybe cook some stuff... while cleaning (and cleaning out) some other stuff... laundry, photog work, all the normal weekend stuff.

Sunday's the day I've been looking forward to for a while!  Katie and I will be participating in the 24th Annual Best Friends Gourmet Bike Tour.  There are many routes and distances to choose from; we're going for 25 miles.  The weather forecast looks GREAT and let's hope I haven't jinxed anything by bringing it up.

Things to look forward to... make me feel happier.  Thanks for reading (that makes me happy, too) -- and commenting!  Comments on this here blog now number an astonishing 16,000+, which means we have a winner (details coming soon)!!

20 July 2010

Ten on Tuesday: Camping (ugh!)

10 Things to Bring on a Camping Trip

I have camped -- ages ago! -- but I am not a camper.  At all.  Period.  Not in any way, shape or form.  Don't try to convert me; I've heard it all about how much fun it is; I don't like it.  It is not putting it mildly to say that I hate it.  There are certain aspects that I find quite appealing, but the big picture involves too much work (before, during, and after) and WAY too many variables.  Hell on earth, to me, would be spending wasting a rainy and/or humid and/or mosquitoe-y vacation week (or a weekend) in a tent (or a camper, doesn't really matter) -- clothes that never dry, wet sand that sticks to everything.  Ugh.  I have roughed it, spending many a summer in a cabin that had no indoor plumbing, but that's my limit.  I like walls, a roof, a solid floor, electricity, a real bed.

I might be able to "camp" in a motorhome, but it's the "motor" part of "motorhome" appeals to me most.  My dad took us on a trip around Lake Superior in a motorhome when I was 12 and it was one of the most fun and memorable vacations I've ever had.  Can we do it my way?  Let's GO!

1.  Garmin

2.  Maps

3.  Passport

4.  Knitting

5.  Reading

6.  My bike

7.  Music

8.  Board games and cards

9.  Laptop

10.  Marshmallows, graham crackers, Hershey chocolate bars

By the way, my motorhome is pointed toward the Maritimes and beyond.

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One of the most amazing and beautiful things I saw at Conrad Art Glass & Gardens on Sunday was this long, narrow, curving, somewhat undulating, bench-like fence structure that held a multitude of miniature gardens planted mostly in hypertufa vessels.  There were so many things that I loved in this particular spot (hello, hostas nearby! hypertufa! succulents!), where do I begin?

The fence is built on and from an old arborvitae hedge.  You can see the trunks in their role as fence posts in the photos above.  The crosspieces and "xylophone" top are all created using the cut branches.  It is just nothing short of spectacular in its creativity and beauty.  I am completely in love with this fence.  There, I said it!

19 July 2010

Weekend

I guess you could call it a pretty good and busy weekend when, on Sunday night, you can barely recall what was happening on Saturday morning!  Thank goodness for Facebook updates.

According to my daughter, I "bought out the farmers' market" on Saturday morning.  There were more vendors this week than previously -- and I believe the number will swell a bit more before tapering off -- and I stocked up on a few staples, such as local maple syrup and honey.  It was a bountiful and happy morning.  I love my tiny local market!

I spent some time processing a couple of recent photo shoots, did a little laundry and cooking -- normal weekend stuff.

I went for a nice, meandering 12-mile bike ride on Saturday evening.  People, I lied.  The biking is definitely getting easier -- I am getting stronger, getting to know my bike better, loving it more and more.  And I'll tell you a couple more reasons why:

  • In less than three weeks (90 miles), I feel so much stronger -- all over!  My core, my arms, my legs, my tummy, my butt -- everything feels tighter (even if it isn't exactly looking tighter... I'm hoping that'll become FAIRLY evident, even if only to my own eyes, at some point in the not-too-distant future).  I can feel it when I get up from a chair, walk across a room -- and, oh my, it sure feels good!
  • I have ankles again!  I've kept my trap shut in case it was a fluke -- sometimes I don't have a clue as to why I'm any more or less swollen on a particular day -- but it's been over a week, with very little change.  I first noticed it when we were up north last weekend, but thought perhaps it had to do with weather/temperature/pressure/who-the-hell-knows-what.  I'm not talking "less swollen" here, either, I'm talking "Look! There's shape, a defined ankle bone! Who knew?"
  • I can't wait to ride!  I go places in the car and think how great it would be to explore on the bike; always a fan of back roads, I have become a little obsessed.

On Sunday, I accompanied Dawn Koehler on a visit to Conrad Art Glass & Gardens -- Larry and Sarah are gracious hosts and guides, and their garden is a most delightful place.  Short on time today, I made a little movie from a few of the photos I took "On a Sunday afternoon."  Enjoy!

16 July 2010

Mid-summer

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On Saturday afternoon, after Katie & Maddy finished work, we loaded our stuff into the car and attached three bikes on the back and hit the road to spend a few days up north.  DH had a class to teach at Peninsula School of Art in Door County, so couldn't join us, but Ali & Kevin were able to come up on Sunday night.

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There were more than a few mosquitoes.  We arrived after dark and had to unload the bikes before unloading the trunk, which meant lots of in-and-out of the cabin, which led to letting in lots of mosquitoes, which led to lots of swatting all night long!  The first night was the worst; it got a lot better after that.

There was a little rain -- in fact, on Sunday morning, we didn't quite outrun an approaching storm and I was baptized on the bike, riding the last half-mile of a 15-mile ride in the rain!

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There was plenty of good weather, too; excellent for biking, canoeing, swimming, sleeping.  I had a most delightful nap on Sunday afternoon in front of the wide-open patio doors.  It's what we do when we're up north!

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That... and this!  The kids asked, "Are you taking a picture because your letters spell 'YARN'?"  I was NOT, but I totally COULD HAVE!  I'm embarrassed to admit, on my own knitting blog, that it was there and I didn't even see it!  (What is wrong with me?)  Then, of course, I COULDN'T rearrange my letters to spell 'YARN' and take a photo because I'd give away four of the seven letters on my rack!

It's the Scrabble board from the big cabin -- the one that was always kept in the third drawer of the dresser in Grandma's room.  We all commented on the old, worn-soft paper bag that holds the letters -- with one big strip of masking tape where the seam had come apart... how many years... how many hands...

And cards -- the kids played various games of Solitaire, War, Crazy 8s, even Old Maid!  I didn't play cards.  I can knit and play a slow-paced game of Scrabble, but it's hard to knit while holding a hand of cards.

We explored.

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Always a big fan of ruin -- sentimental for what was, hopeful and optimistic for what could be again.  I aspire to, and am inspired by, some amazing local photographers who have this genre down pat: Dave Jackson's Simple + Dirty, El TiDY, Big City Al.  *sigh*

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I love that it's necessary to use a broken pitchfork to secure the door of a shed with a caved-in roof.  I suppose the door was initially secured before the roof fell... but, with no prompting from me, even the kids were compelled to lock it up tight behind us.

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I hopped in the car on Monday as the light of the day faded to capture a favorite barn.  The sunset was nothing spectacular and the light was just sort of *meh* -- but it's still a favorite barn and there can hardly be a bad photo.

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Speaking of bad photos... sometimes I take 'em... and sometimes the technical stuff just doesn't matter one bit!  It's the expression, emotion, feeling that speaks the loudest -- and such is the case with this photo of Maddy.  I just love it, but it's possible that that's only because I'm her mother!

Kate and I hauled the bikes to Butternut on Tuesday morning and rode 9.9 miles in that vicinity -- it was a little less hilly than Sunday's ride!  We packed everything back up on Tuesday afternoon and headed back home.  And it was back to work on Wednesday -- which totally messes up one's concept of a week.  This is the second of three-in-a-row 3-day work weeks for me; next week I'll have off the latter part and that might feel more "normal."  Heh.

We had RAIN!  There were flooded streets on the way home from work after late-day rain on Wednesday, something that I rarely see.  Alice Cooper's show in Oshkosh (which Ali & Kevin planned to see) was finally cancelled on Wednesday night and it's a good thing because boomers rolled through again around midnight.  Wow!  I much prefer day-time storms, thankyouverymuch!  I heard tell of a lot of flooded basements.  I saw water gushing from hard-working sump pumps on last night's bike ride.

* * * * *

Oh my gosh, can I talk about the bike for a sec?  It has occurred to me that this biking thing might seem to have come out of nowhere and... well, it pretty much has!  No one is more surprised than me that I've actually gone out, bought a bike, and am riding it.  A good bike is a substantial investment on it's own, but then the accoutrements take it to a whole 'nother level and I'm not even talking bells and whistles (just a figure of speech, a bell actually came standard) -- and all on a bit of a whim!  Inspired by my daughter's near-elation (I want some of that!) after some rides early this summer (after falling a bit out of love with it all, for various reasons, late LAST summer) and by my own falling in love a little with Wisconsin's Rustic Roads, it seemed like it might be a good marriage, if a bit polygamous, of travel + adventure + exploration + photography + fitness.  Lord knows, I've been unhappy and struggling with the fitness part of the equation for quite some time.

Less than half-way through my first "substantial" ride (nearly 15 miles) last week -- huffing and puffing, red-faced, sweating like a pig, barely able to a) keep up with Kate and b) catch my breath no matter how many times we stopped (I can't imagine if I still smoked!) -- I thought:

  • WHAT THE HELL HAVE I DONE?
  • I bought this expensive bike... I can't NOT ride it... Rusty would KILL ME.
  • But do I even like this?
  • OMG!  Do I hate this?
  • I think it sounded better than it actually is.
  • Is it too late to return all this shit?
  • I wonder how much I could get for this bike.
  • Why in the world did I sign up for that damn relay?
  • Can I get out of it?

Well, the second half of the trip went MUCH better than the first!  I had to walk the bike up the last little hill to our house, but I hopped on and rode the last block home and felt such a sense of accomplishment -- 14.7 miles!

I've ridden about 80 miles in the past two weeks.  It's been... if not easier, then maybe less painful to spin those tires.  The second half of the ride is still way more fun than the first!  Katie wasn't up to riding last night, so I had my first 14-mile solo flight, which included some hills (about which I'd have said NO FRICKIN' WAY two weeks ago) and, other than stopping for a photo at my destination before turning back, the only stops were related to traffic.  It is absolutely fantastic and I'm so glad I jumped in feet-first -- and fast so I didn't have time to talk myself out of buying that bike (and accoutrements... most especially the padded shorts).

Whew!  Thanks for reading.  Happy Weekend!

15 July 2010

Ten on Tuesday Thursday

Ten Things I Like About Where I Live

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1.  I love my house.


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2.  I love my local coffee shop.  It's pretty cool and the owner is real nice.  Also, there's an interesting guy who has his art studio/gallery upstairs.


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3.  It's an easy, one-hour drive through small towns and farmland to the beautiful Lake Michigan shore.  I can't see the other side, but I always glance over and wave to my near-and-yet-so-far friends in Michigan.


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4.  I can grow lilacs.  I remember how disappointed I was to learn that they wouldn't grow in Oregon.  I ordered one, anyway.  The amazing rhodies sort of made up for the lack of lilacs, but not really.  They're two different things.


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5.  There are some cool local projects that bring people together and highlight some of the great things about our area.  (I've been slacking on the mural progress photos so far this year -- time to fix that!)


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6.  It's only a few hours to the beautiful, peaceful, wilderness of The Big Woods -- way up north -- it's even further north than most Wisconsinites think when they hear the words "up north."  Those kids in the canoe represent the 5th generation of my family to find it the perfect place to retreat and recharge.


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7.  There are some great local yarn shops that host world-class events with big names in the fiber world -- some of whom don't mind crawling around on the floor to autograph people's feet!


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8.  Definite and defined seasons (without which one cannot grow lilacs).  I'm not a big fan of winter, but am willing to suffer it for spring and summer and fall.  But mostly spring.  Then fall.  Then summer.  There's good and bad about them all, really; you just take your lumps and enjoy your nuggets.


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9.  On any given day, it's just so darn beautiful. 


AMK 

10.  So many of my favorite people live here!  Even the one who will be living in London for a semester next year!  Congratulations, Maddy!!!!

14 July 2010

Wordless Wednesday

image from www.flickr.com 
image from www.flickr.com
image from www.flickr.com 
It is Wednesday, isn't it?  Not quite wordless, but almost...  I am in re-entry mode after a great few days away with the kids in the northwoods.  Ahhhhhhhhhhh.

09 July 2010

Random (big, huge, catch-up day)

My plate runneth over.  How does that go... about a rolling stone gathering no moss?  My head is spinning a little, so this post is going to be part holiday weekend wrap-up (with knitting!), part looking ahead, part punch list, and part appointment calendar -- a skimmer's paradise!

It's been crazy-(mostly-fun)-busy here and things have been happening fast!  Well, some things -- one really big thing -- may appear to have happened fast -- and even felt like it happened fast -- but it's actually been bubbling and brewing for quite a long time.  And as much as I'd like to have avoided it F.O.R.E.V.E.R, there was no escaping that it just had to be done.

Bear with me... HERE'S WHAT'S BEEN HAPPENIN'

ON SATURDAY, I...

  • Woke up early and walked down to the farmers' market to buy meat (beef, goat) and produce (blueberries, currants), have a cuppa somethin' (lemonade) and visit with the girls.  It was pretty busy!  I also brought home two small rosemary plants.
  • Walked back and hopped into Maddy's car (she had my more reliable car in Milwaukee for the long weekend) to make my 10 a.m. photo session with an adorable 2-year-old.
  • Ran to the store to get a few things that Ali needed before...
  • Heading back by noon to help tear down the farmers' market booth and move the whole show across the road to the Firecracker Run Registration/Expo for the afternoon.
  • Whew!  Have I mentioned that it started to get hot on Saturday?  And humid?
  • Helped Ali at the expo until 3 pm; tore it all down again and put it away... 'til next weekend!
  • Walked downtown AGAIN -- this time, killing two birds by taking the dog -- to retrieve Maddy's car, which had been left behind when we moved the market stuff across the street.
  • Took a shower.
  • Made fruit salad (pictured a post or two ago) for family get-together and cookout at Mom's; Annie, Bri, and the smaller half of their family visiting for the holiday.
  • Agreed to and signed up for the BIKE LEG of a TRIATHLON RELAY in August; Annie will run; a friend will swim.
  • WHAT????
  • Declined the invitation to go watch fireworks; fell into bed.  Zzzzzzzzz.

ON SUNDAY, I...

  • Practically missed the Firecracker Run!  At this time LAST year, watching runners and walkers crossing the finish line, my sister Karen and I talked about participating THIS year... um, that didn't happen.
  • Walked downtown again to watch the UW Marching Band's "5th Quarter" performance -- and just missed it!!  I heard only the last few notes and was bummed.  Remind me next year how quickly a 5K is all run and done!
  • Had another photo shoot -- this time with my sister who has a big hunk o' wall to fill in the hall/stairway.
  • Did some other stuff, made another fruit salad, rode my bike over for another family get-together and cookout.
  • Went to see "Robin Hood" at the movies w/Kate -- one of my favorite ways to escape the heat.
  • Saw some fireworks over the treetops as we left the movie; went home and fell into bed again.

ON MONDAY, I...

  • Took full advantage of the work holiday!
  • Finally watched "It Might Get Loud" (which I've had from Netflix for... a long time) at home!
  • Did some knitting.
  • Looked at and developed some of the weekend's photos.
  • Took it pretty darn easy.

ON TUESDAY, I...

  • Went with Kate to buy a bike rack for the car and a few other supplies (pump, saddlebag, lock).
  • Bought a new-to-me used car on the way home.
  • WHAT????

ON WEDNESDAY, I...

  • Turned the keys for "my" 2000 Saturn over to Maddy; her 1992 Olds took its farewell spin to the salvage yard.
  • The end of that.

The Olds had good provenance and was, for the most part, a pretty good young person car.  It has been plagued for a while now by nuisance, intermittent, and potentially dangerous electrical problems -- the sort that are nearly impossible/expensive to trace/repair -- that have been making driving hazardous -- not just blinking dashboard lights, but complete loss of power and a tricky re-starting maneuver -- it was an accident and/or engine fire waiting to happen.

ENOUGH!!  I've been taking Sunday drives through car lots, hither and yon, for months.  On Tuesday, the stars aligned and I decided it was time to test drive the 2007 Nissan Altima that I've had my eye on.  It had good ZOOM-ZOOM!

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Note:  Madeleine has requested that when I clean out the Saturn, I also remove the "I'd Rather Be Knitting" license plate holder because... get this... IT'S EMBARRASSING!!  Really??  Harumph.

INTERMISSION (enjoy the knitting & bonus new shoes!)

image from www.flickr.com

image from www.flickr.com image from www.flickr.com
The strip knitting is going a lot faster than I thought it would -- it's so much fun!!  I'm needing to think about layout and how it's all going to come together now.  Still haven't woven in a single end; have been carrying Chibis full of needles with me, though, so I'll be ready when I feel the sudden urge.  Heh.

Props to Scheels on the shoes.  I have been needing new sandals for a long time.  I don't have a closet full of shoes -- never did and never will -- I have a pair of tennies, a pair of Birkies, a pair of thongs, a pair of Keen Mary Janes, some wool-lined Merrells for winter, an ancient pair of Eccos (also Mary Janes).  On average, I buy a new pair of shoes about once every 2-3 years.  So a few weeks ago, I stopped at the locally owned downtown shoe store that gets most of my business to find some sandals -- I had Keens on my mind, but I'd take anything that was reasonable (i.e., prolly not Finns) and comfortable.  It was the end of the day and my feet were a little swollen -- which they are/can be at pretty much any time these days (especially in summer), so it's sort of important to keep that in mind.  Most of what I tried was too tight and the salesman suggested that I come back when my feet were not swollen.

Hello????  A little or a lot, it's practically a permanent condition right now.

The saleswoman at Scheels didn't skip a beat, recommending a couple styles of Keens and a pair of Eccos.  The Eccos were cute -- and a neat convertible style -- but they made my ankles look like Great Aunt Verna's.  Not the look I'm after.  Yay KEENS, Venice style in Amaranth & Simply Taupe which goes surprisingly well with my carmine red bike.

COMING ATTRACTIONS

Tomorrow, early, I'm heading south for two morning photo sessions -- also to drive the triathlon route (in the car) (later on the bike), then north again -- WAY north.  It works out that most of us will be able to break away for a few days at my uncle's cabin.  The new bike rack -- and the bike -- will get a good workout!  I can't wait!!  My rides have all been pretty residential and I'm anxious to hit the open road -- in the quiet and pine-y northwoods will be perfect.

On Sunday the 18th, I'm going on a field trip with Dawn Koehler and others to Conrad Art Glass & Gardens.  That is going to be utterly amazing.

On Thursday the 22nd, it'll be my first trip (hopefully, not the only trip) to the peninsula this year for the Door County Antique Show with Mom & Kate.

On Sunday the 25th, Katie and I will be riding in the 24th Annual Gourmet Bike Tour to benefit the Best Friends of Neenah-Menasha.  We'll be doing at least the 25-mile route, maybe longer.

Thankfully, other than a a couple of birthdays (Addison-3, Dad-75), August doesn't look too bad.  I'll continue to ride and train for the Waterloo Fit City Triathlon which takes place on Sunday, August 15th!  I'll be part of a relay TEAM with two other people, so need only worry about biking.

I continue to slowly and steadily pick up photography jobs -- which is great, because I still have a full-time job -- so I'll probably have a few more gigs between now and the Labor Day wedding that's on the books!  This is a hastily thrown together example featuring some of my favorite photos from my Las Vegas vacation, but an example of something new that I'll be offering to photography clients -- I'll be able to incorporate video, text, original music... it's so exciting!!

Enjoy!

And thank you so much for reading.  The comment count is slowly climbing to the 16,000 mark... it's ALMOST there!  Prizes await!!

Happy weekend!

07 July 2010

What's the meaning of this?

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As I was working on (i.e., straightening) photos from my mom and stepdad's recent travels to Japan and Italy, I came across this little nugget of a photo and smiled.  But I really do wonder.  What is the meaning of this??  My stepdad says that he took this photo in a cemetery and that there were about two dozen of these guys all in one area wearing red crocheted caps.

06 July 2010

Ten on Tuesday: Summertime

Ten Ways to Enjoy Summer

image from www.flickr.com
1.  Make and eat fruit salad!  This is a variation on the green theme, which seems to be this summer's salad inspiration!  Grapes, honeydew, kiwi, Granny Smith apple, blueberries, currants, thinly sliced rhubarb, a few splashes of both lemon and lime juice (more lemon than lime), a drizzle of honey, lots of basil.  I think I use more basil every time I make it.  It looks sort of patriotic, doesn't it?  'Specially in that stars and stripes bowl.  I made this salad twice over the weekend.  Oh so yum.

image from www.flickr.com
2.  Go to the farmers' market every Saturday morning!  Not only is there great food, art and craft, there are fun people!

image from www.flickr.com
3.  Go on a road trip (or several).  This is the old Hamilton Manufacturing Co. in Two Rivers; we'd never really been before, so made it a stop on the day's itinerary.

image from www.flickr.com
4.  Putz around in the yard, trimming and pruning, planting and harvesting, enjoying the varied fruits of sundry labor.

image from www.flickr.com
5.  Cook stuff on the grill!  This is my stepdad's grill -- a shot from last summer, when it was brand spankin' new -- it's sort of HUGE!  Our grill is a tiny little thing, big enough for those first six burgers.

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6.  Go on vacation with your sister!  Viva Las Vegas!

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7.  Rent a cool camera lens to take with you on vacation with your sister!  We loved our day in the desert.

image from www.flickr.com
8.  Hang clothes on the line.

image from www.flickr.com
9.  Go to the lake!  That may be happenin' again soon!

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10.  Go for a bike ride (and keep hydrated).

And that's your 10 this Tuesday!  Thanks Carole!

02 July 2010

Maiden voyage

It's been ages since I've been able to say, "Hey! Get offa MY NEW BIKE!!"

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I can't remember the last time I had a bike of my own!  (Does this helmet make my nose look big?  Heheheh.  Not my best angle!)  (And I'm gonna need to liven up that helmet... why did I not go red?)

I do remember my first bike.  It was a Raleigh -- blue -- and I walked around with a scab on my inside left ankle bone for as long as I had that bike because chain guard was too close to the pedal.  Sometimes I'd remember before there was bleeding, but I'd have to hold my foot in a funny (and unnatural) position on the pedal to avoid being nicked.  No fun.

I also remember taking a bad fall in loose gravel on that bike, and still have the scar on the first knuckle of my left-hand ring finger to show for it... that was back in 2nd grade!

At some point I got a big ol' Schwinn -- maybe a 3-speed, but I don't remember.  We were living in a new subdivision, in a fairly large area of new development, and I rode my bike the back way to a new friend's house two subs over.  I got stuck.  In mud.  I remember stopping to survey the situation and deciding that I'd be able to ride through; I was in the thick of it, of course, right in the middle, when I realized I couldn't.  Tires thick with mud, my shoes thick with mud, alone, scared, crying, muddy it might even have started to rain... did I mention the mud?  It was my first personal "Twilight Zone" episode.  I don't recall exactly how that story ended -- I'm willing to bet I powered and pushed my way through, determined not to die in a big mud puddle.

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I picked up MY NEW BIKE after work yesterday.  I bought the Trek FX for a couple of reasons:

  • First, it's a really nice bike!  And it's red -- Carmine Red!
  • Second, since Trek's headquarters are in Waterloo, it's "local."  I know that they don't actually make bikes like mine in Waterloo anymore, but the design center is still there and they employ people there -- and I have a personal connection to a number of people who live and work there.  While no one I know actually works for Trek, the company does provide employment and, presumably, pays taxes and does their part to support local business, government and education there.
  • Third, price.  I didn't buy the cheapest bike, but it's far from the most expensive off-the-shelf regular-people bike, not to mention the handmade variety that they do still make in W'loo for the likes of Lance.

Maddy borrowed my car yesterday, so I had hers when I went to pick up MY NEW BIKE.  I realized on the way over that we paid more for my bike than we did for her car -- a fact that I mentioned to the young man helping me load it up.  He said, "Well, then you're just like most of the guys around here!  They all ride $6,000 bikes and drive $400 cars!"  Haha.  Yeah.  No.  I didn't pay anywhere even CLOSE to $6,000 for my bike.  GAWD!  I can't imagine spending $6,000 on a bike!!  I could buy a damn nice camera with that kind of money, though... and don't think I haven't already made the photog vs. cycling comparison!  I did buy the bike with photography in mind; while it's not a camera body or a lens, photography was a big motivator for buying the bike.

That and fitness.

So, the maiden voyage was last night.  I rode 5.3 flat, paved, residential, non-photogenic miles.  My on-board computer reported that my top speed was 18mph, though I suspect that was a coasting downhill speed; I actually saw it hit 14 as I was actually pedalling.  I took my time and took it easy.  I feel it a little in my legs this morning, but in a most excellent way; however, my butt's going to want the padded bikewear moved right up to the top of the priority list!

Happy trails!

01 July 2010

Knitting strips of stripes...

...it's like eating candy.  I can't get enough.  They're photogenic, too.

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Even with limited knitting time lately, I've already begun the fourth connecting strip -- so good and so fun, it's like eating candy.  I just can't stop!  I haven't woven in a single end yet, though, and better start that soon so I don't face them all at once.

I love the contemplating while working that comes with knitting something like this.  I think it's when I have things to ponder about my work -- even the simplest thing, such as "Which of my 14 or 15 colors shall I pluck out of the basket next?" -- that I have the most fun knitting.  I get to think about how and when to weave in all those ends, sew up all the pieces, work a border 'round the whole thing, make my mark.

Check out my Flickr Parcheesi set.

I love this thing!

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