Thursday, April 30, 2009

Not Really Roughing It

Tomorrow, we're leaving home with our trailer and driving to Yellowstone State Park, here in Southern Wisconsin. We'll work until noon and then hit the road. It'll be a beautiful drive on highways ascending and descending rolling hills as we travel through farmland and small country towns.
We'll leave the comfort of our home and rough it in this makeshift shelter out in the woods. As you can see from the photo, I'm playing with you again. Obviously, we don't suffer when we go "camping." We're very comfortable with the pull out full-size bed (it extends several feet out from the front of the trailer and is fully enclosed), the microwave, stovetop, oven, refrigerator, double sink, bunk beds, pull out dining area with a table and seating, couch that opens into a bed, bathroom with sink, toilet, bathtub, shower and lots and lots of storage space in all areas of the trailer. Outside, an awning can be opened for shelter if it rains or from the sun. We can cook outside on a gas stovetop that drops out from the side of the trailer (it's there above the wheels).

We enjoy the state parks with their spacious and mostly wooded camping sites. Private parks turn our stomachs. Occasionally we'll drive through one in hopes that it will be different. With few exceptions, the many trailers parked in these camps are packed so close together that privacy and a sense of being one with nature is impossible. We don't understand that type of camping.

Fortunately, there are several state parks in close enough proximity to our home, that we can get to one, enjoy a full day and two half days, and get home again for work on Monday, if we leave here at noon on Friday and return home on Sunday. Because of their popularity, reservations are taken up to 11 months in advance. For several years, I reserved campsites at the state parks so we could get away with our trailer every other weekend from late April through the month of October. I screwed things up the past couple of years by not reserving sites until it was too late and the parks were full. There is a nice state park in Northern Illinois that we can often get into without an advance reservation. It's close enough that we can pull the trailer there on a Thursday evening, get a site, leave the trailer there and return home, work Friday morning and then drive back to the park Friday afternoon. I'm sure we'll take advantage of that option a few times this summer and fall.

Lon hopes to do some fishing this weekend and I hope to do some running, reading and writing. We like to take walks with our cameras and to go into the nearby towns to look around. Lon will make a campfire and get a kick out of keeping it going, poking around in it and watching it burn. I'll try to sit with him for as long as I can tolerate sitting there watching the flames. I usually sneak away and curl up with a book inside the trailer. I feel bad leaving him by the fire alone but he turns on the radio or just sits and enjoys the peace and quiet. We're usually close enough that we can talk to each other so nobody's really alone and everybody's content. That's makes for good camping.

We've loaded the refrigerator and cupboards in the trailer with food and our clothes are in the closet and drawers. It's just a matter of getting through the hours until noon tomorrow when we'll hook the trailer to our Avalanche and enjoy some time away from our normal surroundings and routine.
You enjoy your weekend as well now, ya hear?

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

The Unfortunate Geek

I'm happy again. After work today, Lon and I went to Best Buy, directly to the Geek Squad Service Desk. I grabbed the first geek I came upon by the throat and nearly scared the living daylights out of him.

"Are you gonna fix my problem or am I gonna have to kill you?" I growled.

"Wha...wha...what's the" he croaked.

I released my grip on his neck and stepped back. He stumbled a bit and rubbed at his neck. After regaining his composure, he straightened his geeky narrow black tie on his geeky white shirt tucked into his geeky black pants complete with geeky white socks and geeky black shoes.

"A member of your squad handed me a bunch of bull yesterday. That's my problem. Twice he told me I could input photos into my laptop by shoving my memory stick into that slot right there. Do you see the slot I'm talking about?" I yanked his head by his greasy hair until his eyelashes were halfway into the slot. "Right in there. That's where the stick is stuck. Look real hard for it because I need you to get it out. And I need it out NOW."

He righted himself again, smoothed his hair and braced himself behind the counter. This time, he seemed a bit shaken but not as surprised by my actions. I felt sure that he had gotten my message and that he knew I meant business.

"Can I look in the slot again?" he asked. "It was hard to see the first time."

"Yeah, yeah, yeah. Relax. Don't be so jumpy. Are you always like this?" I sneered.

"No, well... er not usually...," he stuttered.

"Well, what're ya gonna do to fix my problem?" I asked.

"If you'll excuse me I'll go get the tweezers. I'll only be a second. OK?" he squeaked.

"Make it snappy."

"Yes, ma'am."

He practically ran into the back room and just as quickly ran back out to stand in front of me at the counter. He was breathing hard.

"I can try to reach the stick with this. I've done it before. I'll grip it with the tweezers and pull it out. Is it OK if I touch your laptop to do it?" he stammered.

"If you so much as leave a fingerprint on that shiny surface, I'll grab you again, so be careful," I said.

His hands trembled as he reached for my laptop. His forehead was wet with perspiration and he wiped it off with his shirt sleeve.

"Come on, just take a few deep breaths and stop shaking. You can't do anything if you can't hold still," I grumbled.

"OK. I'm... I'm good now. Let me just carefully...very carefully...get that thing out of there."

I backed up to give him some space. I really needed to get back to square one with my brand new computer. I didn't want it to be shipped away for service. I was in love with it after having it for only three days.

"I've got it...well, I had I've got it comes...there she is," he gasped as the tweezers and the memory stick cleared the slot opening. He dropped both and let out a sigh. He looked up at me as if he wasn't sure how I'd react. His eyes were open wide and glimmered with hope.

I was thrilled. My laptop wouldn't have to go far away to an unfamiliar place where total strangers could possibly mishandle her. All of the sudden, I wanted to hug the geek. I wanted him to know how thankful I was for his expertise. I put my arms out and leaned toward him. He backed away and before I could do anything else, he scurried off to the back room, looking back over his shoulder at me as he went, a horrified look on his face.

"Wait, wait, I just want to thank you," I called out after him.

We waited a few seconds. The back room door opened and a young lady came out. She was shaking her head. "May I help you?" she asked.

"I just want to thank the young man who helped me with my laptop," I said. "Would you tell him that?"

"He's gone. Where to, I couldn't tell you. I've never seen him move so fast. He grabbed him jacket and like I said, he's gone."

"I was a bit rough on him. I can see that now. I really wish I could apologize to him. Will you tell him I'm sorry?" I asked.

"Oh, sure, he'll be back on Friday. I'll tell him," she said. "He's had a bad week. Yesterday, a woman grabbed him by the hair and then practically strangled him. Nobody in their right mind should get that crazy over a cotton-picking computer," she said.

"No, nobody," I said. I nodded and hung my head as we walked out the door.

[Actually, it went a lot better than that. I was polite, in control and nonconfrontational. The reason I made all of that up is because I need to practice writing dialogue and because the truth, in this situation, is extremely boring.

This is what really happened: The geek did use a tweezers and pulled the memory stick out after a few tries. I never touched him and the service transaction was completed without a hitch.

I do feel bad about that first guy even though I made it all up. It seems real. I guess that's my punishment for lying.]

Tuesday, April 28, 2009


(This is a continuation of my previous post).

Here I am. No muss, no fuss. I'm perched on a stool at our pub table in the kitchen. I'm replugged and back in business again. I'm liking this. Ahead of me is a patio door with a nice view of the backyard; to my right is the family room window with a view of our birch tree and if I turn around, I'm looking across the living room and out the bow window at our front yard. At my desktop computer, I'm limited to looking at my corner computer desk shelves when I pause from typing. This is a nice change.

I like the warmth of the laptop under my hands. It's cool here in the house and even with a sweatshirt, my hands are cold. I went for a run early this afternoon and although I showered afterwards, my body is feeling chilled right now. My hands are loving it here.

I'm using my Rocketfish wireless laser mouse instead of the built-in mouse. I find it's easier to control. Yes, I like the view from here. The grass is as green as it can get, trees and shrubs are popping leaves out all over the place (just since yesterday) and the birds are so excited they can't stop chattering.

Now that I've claimed this table for my laptop, I wonder where we're going to eat. I think we might still have a couple of TV trays downstairs. Oh heck, Lon won't go along with that idea, no way. Oh yeah, this thing's extremely portable. I'm not stuck here either. I can tuck my baby somewhere safe, away from the sizzling smokie links, 50 oz. Heinz ketchup bottle, macaroni and cheese, Lon slamming down his Miller High Life Light beer and my tipsy glass of [yellow tail] merlot wine. Oops. I'm the tipsy one; the glass is tippy. Either way, my Toshiba can't be at the table during mealtimes. No exceptions to that rule.

I wanted to include a picture of Lon's beer bottle and my wine bottle with this post for eye appeal, but I lost the memory stick in my laptop. (When I asked the geek how to download photos from my camera, he told me to put the memory stick directly into the slot at the front of my laptop. I asked him twice and that's what he said, twice. I should have attempted it while he was here. I didn't). After losing the memory stick, I called Best Buy and they told me that for the small memory sticks, an adapter is needed. Lovely! Meanwhile, I can't get the stick out of the slot. Best Buy told me they'd have to send the laptop to Toshiba for removal. I called the Geek Squad service number and they said Best Buy should be able to remove it at the store. Good grief!

Dinner time has snuck up on me. Gotta go. I'm cooking; it's buffalo burgers tonight.

Can Shaddy Go Mobile?

I'm using my new laptop, the first time ever for me to experience one. The keyboard feels alot different and will take some getting used to.

The fellow from Best Buy's Geek Squad came flying in here in a little VW bug. He definitely was a geek which was exactly what I wanted. Geeks really know what they're doing in their specialties. I watched everything he did, but I couldn't grasp a thing because he was lightning quick. Of course, I didn't need to know what he was doing, but I hung with him so I could ask questions as they came to me.

My head's swimming with the new information I shoved in it this afternoon. In an attempt to settle myself down before I widen my blogging landscape, I'm still in the same room as my desktop computer; I'm weaning myself out of here gradually. My next move will involve ending this post now and starting another one at the kitchen table. I don't know how unplugging this laptop will affect this post so I'll publish it before I make my change of venue.

Huh. It appears I'm typing in a different font from the one I started with. Don't ask me how that happened. Anyway, I'm off to mobilize my blogging career.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Smokie Links, Raspberries and Ice Cream

Now is the time for all good men to come to the aid of their party. Oh, excuse me. I'm just warming up before I get into the meat and potatoes of this post.
Okay. Now for the meat and potatoes. On second thought, let me offer you something else. Let's turn our attention to the smokie links wrapped in ketchup and Roman Meal bread, the macaroni and cheese and the canned peas we had for supper. Guess who's night it was to cook? I can guarantee you that it wasn't mine, although I did heat up the peas. Do you know how many fat grams there are in a smokie link? I didn't bother to pull the wrapper out of the wastebasket this evening to disgust myself. I didn't want to be reminded; I think it's right up there around 20.

My husband, Lon, is a big fan of foods that taste really good. I tend to prepare meals that are nutritious and not always so tasty. I have to admit that lately I've been a slacker. I haven't been as concerned as I used to be about eating only the good-for-you foods. I usually get our weekly groceries, but for a while now I haven't. I wile my time away in more selfish activities such as writing, reading or exercising. The refrigerator and cupboards have been quite bare under my watch. Instead of complaining (or starving), Lon takes on the task, makes a list (even asking me if I have any input) and does the shopping.

As long as Lon's getting the groceries, I can't be too critical of what fills the brown bags that he dumps on the kitchen table. Without fail, one holds two gallons of vanilla ice cream, always Schoep's, and half a dozen packages of frozen Birds Eye Deluxe Whole Red Raspberries in a Delicious Syrup. Around 8:00 every evening, that's our dessert, not once in a while, but every single evening.

Yeah, it's been great. I have to admit that those smokie links truly hit the spot. And our evening snack, why, I gotta love the guy who makes it possible. Yup, he's a keeper.

One of these days, I'll start dragging myself to the grocery store again and I'll take us back to more healthy eating. Of course, I won't rush into it; it could be a shock to our systems. Meanwhile, it's getting close to 8:00. I hate to rush off but my mouth is watering.

Life is good.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

From Rummage to Riches

Yesterday, we finished up the rummage sale that we started last Saturday. Two consecutive Saturdays proved to be just enough time for us to sell the majority of our excess stuff. The weather cooperated until 1:00 last Saturday but the rest of the day and all day yesterday it rained. It worked for us. We didn't even mind being stuck in the garage selling our stuff since the weather was crummy. Luckily, a whole bunch of folks were stir crazy enough to get out and rummage in the rain. Now that it's behind us, we're glad we put in the time and effort because now our basement is less congested and we can organize the things we use regularly. Less clutter and pockets full of money were our rewards.

Our pockets full of money were emptied long before the cash could wear a hole in the fabric and trickle out. We're losing enough money these days that we wanted to avoid losing more with nothing to show for it. Let me tell you how our rummage turned into riches.

My computer's been extremely slow and hasn't responded positively to anything we've tried to do to fix it. It was inevitable that we needed a new one, we just hadn't been motivated to go out and shop for one. Like I said, we felt the weight of the money straining our pocket seams. Best Buy and Texas Roadhouse are practically next door to each other and just a few miles north of here. We were hungry, I didn't want to cook (imagine that) and you know about our fear regarding our recent extra income.

We deliberated for at least ten seconds before we agreed to hit the road, eat and then shop. We closed the door on the now empty garage (we had already bagged up the leftover rummage stuff and taken it to Goodwill) and headed out.

To make a short story even shorter, we ate dinner and then bought a Toshiba laptop computer. We were still chewing steak when we emptied our pockets at the cash register. The Geek Squad will come to our house and take care of all the setup details on Tuesday afternoon. From then on, I'll have the freedom to go anywhere in the house and on the screen porch and pursue my favorite hobby while I'm there.

Hmmmmm. Now I'm wondering if there's a way I can bike, run and swim with my laptop. I don't ask for much, in fact, I'll give the computer developers another year or so to figure that trick out.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Why Shaddy?

When I registered for an online writing class a couple of years ago, we were asked to use a nickname when we submitted our writing to the discussion areas. The only nickname I'd ever had was one Dad gave me and used about 55 years ago. I'm not even sure why I remembered it. I would venture to say that Dad probably reminded me of it on different occasions over the years. He often told cute stories to my four brothers and I about our growing up years.

I've been told that I followed Dad around a lot when I was quite small. I would walk behind him as he watered his flowers in the yard or as he puttered around doing other outside activities. I was like a shadow, only better because I was right behind him no matter where the sun was in the sky. Instead of nicknaming me Shadow, he shortened it to Shaddy. (It's pronounced with a short a vowel sound and it rhymes with Daddy).

I never really appreciated my nickname until I adopted it again for my writing classes. Now I love it and use it here in my blog and whenever I can. It's unique and I find it endearing.

So if anyone is, or has been wondering how I got my unusual name, now you know "the rest of the story."

Friday, April 24, 2009

A Tale of Two Runs and A Bike Ride

I'm sitting here, feeling sort of drunk, although nothing with alcohol in it has passed my lips. Instead, I'm out of it on account of getting a whole bunch of fresh air and an overdose of exercise. I'm not seeking sympathy, just an eye (or two) to read my tale.

When I finished work at noon, I drove to the bank and deposited my paycheck in my checking account. The rest of the day was wide open, waiting for me to fill it with whatever I pleased. In spite of the fact that it was a very windy day and the temperature was 80 degrees, I decided to run/bike/run, in preparation for the biathlon on May 16th.

I have friends who live along the biathlon route. If I go to their house, I can train on the exact race route. The only obstacle in my plan was that I needed to carry my running shoes with me while I rode my bike to their house. The only solution I could come up with was to hang them around my neck. I found an extra shoelace in my closet and ran it through an unoccupied eyelet on each shoe. I swung the shoes around so they were resting on my back and tied the lace around my neck and under my chin. The shoes were resting on my back but their weight still pulled the shoelace tight around my neck, a bit annoying but it worked.

I warmed up with a very casual 2 mile bike ride to Keith and Sue's house. I parked my bike beside their deck in the back yard, slipped off my helmet and biking gloves, untied my running shoes from around my neck and slid them on. I was ready for the first leg of my workout.

The first part of the biathlon is a 2 mile run. I had decided ahead of time that I was going to take my time and try to enjoy myself. I accomplished this first run without a hitch, other than my incessant inner dialogue. I told myself not to even consider complaining. I poked myself in the ribs and added, you've got a bike ride after this and then you get to do this exact run all over again. So buck up, shut up and do what you came here to do.

I finished the first 2 mile run and returned to my bike. Transition steps included: running shoes off, biking shoes on, helmet on, gloves on, straddle the bike, start to pedal, click shoes into pedals and away I went. Riding seemed easy after running. The route quickly left the residential area and followed country roads. The wind was a major factor today. I had to hold on tight to my handlebar grips so the wind wouldn't make me veer off the road or into traffic. On one downhill stretch, I can usually get up to 30 mph but, going into the wind, my top speed today was 14mph. Again, I didn't push myself hard, I just kept pedaling. When I pulled in Keith's driveway, I had ridden 11 miles.

I sat on the deck, removed my biking gear and put on my Asics running shoes again. I walked back to the road for the last leg of my workout. You're almost done, I told myself. My legs felt rubbery as I began to run. That's to be expected I reminded myself. This second 2 mile run was harder than I'd anticipated. The 80 degree temperature was much warmer than I was used to and the wind was still blowing hard.

When I set a workout goal, I always do as I planned. Today, I didn't. I reached the first corner and I stopped running. I stopped running and walked. I just had to. It just happened before I could convince myself to keep running. After a couple of minutes of walking, I started to run again. I'd always feared it might be hard to get going again after walking, so I never walked. But it wasn't. The remainder of my training session was a combination of running and walking. Walking was a piece of cake and it allowed me to catch my breath. I was initially bummed out because I had to slow to a walk, but pretty soon I was okay with it. I was giving myself a break and the world still appeared to be spinning around!

As I walked up the driveway and along the side of the house, Keith came out of the garage. We visited for a few minutes about his recent vacation and then I asked him for a glass of water. I'd noticed while I was walking/running that I was feeling chilled. I hadn't brought any water with me from home because I don't normally need it. Today's warm temperature made me perspire more than usual and I'd become somewhat dehydrated. The water really hit the spot. I sipped it while we talked some more. I enjoyed the refreshing drink, our conversation and the much needed rest before I left for home.

Once more I geared up to bike and tied my shoes around my neck. I felt pretty good when I left. I took it very easy on my ride home. I parked my bike on our screen porch and went in for a shower. I drank a can of Tava: a zero calorie sparkling beverage, with Brazilian Samba Passion Fruit Lime flavors, vitamin E, niacin, vitamin B6 and chromium. I bought two four packs of Tava yesterday at the Bent and Dent grocery store just up the road from here. This was my first taste of it and I like it. So what if its freshness date expired a few months ago; it was a good buy.

Excuse me for a few minutes. It's time to partake of a carryout fish dinner (brought in by my husband).

Okay, I'm back. I'm feeling much better now than when I started to write this post. Besides the beverage and food, having good friends like you to share life's experiences with is just what I needed.

Thanks for hanging in there with me,

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Just Bugs, Nothing More

Today has gotten away from me as days often do. I like to post something here everyday, something that is at least a smidgen interesting or at least unique, just in case someone wanders in and pulls up a chair. It's nearing bedtime as I finally stumble in here this evening. I have written today. I posted a few words in the Ann Linquist Writes blog earlier. It includes a list of definitions of the word "bug" and of various forms of the word "bug" taken from the dictionary. Following the list, I wrote a paragraph or two using all the words in the list, keeping in mind their meanings.

Why, you might ask, would anyone choose to do such a thing? Actually, there is a respectable motive for my work. Ann's prompt for our latest Goofing Around session, GA-14, was something completely different (those were her words). With no further explanation, Ann presented us with one word that stood alone. That word was "bugs." That was all I needed so I took off with it. I wrote some things about bugs and submitted it. These events occurred yesterday.

Today, during a break at work, I returned to GA-14. The word "bug" was still hanging in the air. I couldn't leave it alone. That's when I made the list of bug words and their definitions, followed by the paragraphs alluded to above. Please go to the link included in my blog list if you have further interest in my project. I don't encourage it but anyone and everyone is welcome there.

It seems that I've accomplished my goal of posting at least one blog per day, today. Was it interesting or unique? What I did was: I wrote three paragraphs in explanation of why I don't have time to post to my blog today. Huh, ain't that somethin'!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

The Devil Made Me Do It

It's 11:30AM, I'm at work with a lull in office activity at the moment. The sun is shining, the temperature is oh so pleasant, and my mind is toying with my body.

"What do you say we get out during our lunch break and do a 3-mile run?" my mind gingerly asks.

"Just a minute. Let me look at those flags across the parking lot," my body responds.

"Yeah, take a look and get back to me," my mind says.

"Shoot. They're flipping 'n flapping pretty darn hard. It doesn't look like a perfect day for running to me," my body says.

"If we wait for perfect days, we'll be waiting forever. Come on. Be a sport. Please," my mind pleads.

"You're ruthless. Whatever you say always rules so I might as well not argue with you," my body grumbles.

"I promise that after the triathlon this year, I'll go easy on you from then on. I'll make sure you enjoy our workouts from then on. OK?" my mind says.

"I'll have to see it to believe it. Alright. I admit it'll will feel extra good lying on the couch tonight watching American Idol," my body says.

"Oh, yeah. When Lon dishes up the ice cream and raspberries you won't have a single reason to feel guilty. It'll be calories that you need, calories you can savor and swallow with total justification for every single spoonful," my mind says.

"You're a devil, do you know that? YOU WIN AGAIN. Take me then, I'm all yours," my body says.

"You know I'll never leave you or forsake you," my mind says.

"How about some good news?" my body retorts.

And so it goes.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

To Behave...or Not...

I'm here and I'm out of breath. Due to previous engagements, my time here is limited this evening. If you're interested in what I've been doing today, go to my blog list and click on Ann Linquist Writes. Look in Goofing Around-13 and Goofing Around-14. A big chunk of my afternoon was spent there, behaving in part but mostly not. Alongside my time there, I've been e-mailing my friend, Gully, regarding some funny and some not funny at all things.

After supper and American Idol, here I am. I'm weary and not able to write any more today. Off to my recliner I go to finish my evening in the company of my current read.

And so it goes.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Barking Dogs in My White Space Today

I clicked on New Post and yet I don't have a clue what I'm going to put in this create box. Time and time again, I've found that if I make an honest statement regarding my aimless intentions, I find that something will come. If I step in, my words follow. They may not draw an audience but they'll line up and stand proudly if for no other reason than to be a part of today in blogging history.

Here they come. My thinking is presently being interrupted by the neighbor's two barking dogs. I could write a goodly amount about that state of affairs. I must admit that I don't appreciate their ceaseless yipping and yapping when I'm out for some fresh air on a pleasant spring, summer or fall day on our screen porch. Besides that, an open window can allow the prolonged outside ruckus to upset me even if I don't leave the house. My husband goes ballistic the second he hears a peep or, I should say, yip out of one of them. Why, we ask, can't they scamper outside, do their thing and then scamper back inside or keep their mouths shut if they choose to play in the back yard. What's the fun of piercing the air and wearing themselves out with agitated high pitched barking? The louder they bark, the louder my husband turns the volume up if he's watching TV on our screen porch. Our neighbors are great but their animals are driving a wedge between us. It's a shame.

See what I mean. If I poke my nose in here, the rest of me gets sucked in by the vacuum created by the gaping white space lurking here. I like being drawn in. I no sooner pull my arms and legs in after me and I realize the white space around me isn't mysterious or eager to pounce after all. Instead, it invites me to sit for a spell, relax, take my shoes off and breathe.

If I can breathe in and out, I can write. One word becomes two, three, four and more. The white space loses its loneliness as words take their seats.

Oh, yeah.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Beep, Beep

My dear friend, Sarah, presented me with this awesome, copper roadrunner pendant last Thursday. Sarah collects and sells vintage items. I came across this copper medallion in her unique collection. I placed an order for it and that's when the fun began.

Allow me to go back in time a bit, please. Since I'm a runner and a biker (riding the self-propelled type), when I first laid eyes on this comical bird captured in copper as he dashes across a cactus/desert scene, I just knew that I had to have it. I placed my order with a special request. Sarah agreed to replace the original longer, copper chain with a shorter cord-type necklace. When I e-mailed her to ask if I could mail a check directly to her rather than through her website, she had other ideas. She insisted that the pendant just HAD to be a gift from her rather than a purchase. Sarah wanted me to have the pendant for reasons of her own.

A few days later, I received a beautifully embossed silver box, delivered personally by Sarah's husband, Russ. I took the lid off and there it was, nestled atop a soft cotton pillow. I loved it even more when I saw it first hand and held it up. Along with the gift was a note from Sarah. This is her message:

"Congratulations Shaddy!! You have been awarded the Roadrunner Medal of Honor!! Yah!! For excellence in conquering those roads by foot or by two wheels!! You're the best! A true inspiration! Love you-Sarah"

This example of unexpected thoughtfulness and support is what makes life a blast. I'll wear my copper roadrunner pendant with pride in my achievements and, even more so, as a reminder of the joy that having a friend like Sarah has brought and, I pray, will continue to bring me.

Beep, beep.

FYI: Sarah's blog is There's an ever-present link to it on my blog list.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Easy Rider and the Rummage Sale

In southern Wisconsin, the weather is marvelous, simply marvelous today. Seventy degrees, no wind and pale blue skies add up to perfect biking weather. I threw out my normal speed goals during my ride and enjoyed myself for a change. At least for today, I was an easy rider.

I've focused enough on running and biking and swimming for a while. I instead direct you to the remainder of my post: matters of rummage.

Tomorrow morning, we're (meaning Lon) going to put up fluorescent orange signs at nearby street corners announcing rummage for sale. We were forced into staging this event because our basement has become a disaster area. We brought the items we knew we could live without upstairs and out into the garage last weekend. As always, lots of things aren't so easy to part with. For instance, an endless number of my clothes items which I haven't worn for three years or up to ten years suddenly look like something I'd go out and buy tomorrow; I simply refuse to give up a beautiful maple desk which relocated to the basement twenty years ago. "Why, my parents gave it to me when I graduated from high school," I plead. Lon says nothing but I know what he's thinking. My husband and I play tug-of-war with almost everything at this point. I tend to be more conservative while he loves to get rid of things and go out and buy new. He'd put me in the garage with a price sticker if I'd sit still long enough. I offered to leave for the weekend so he could run the sale. He could put stickers on all the things HE wanted gone. As a result, I know we'd have a successful sale. For me, out of sight is often out of mind. If I don't see a buyer walk away with an item of mine, I'll never know it's gone.

Lon's not going to let me off that easy. He thinks he needs me. (When will he ever learn?) We didn't get an ad in the shopping news for this weekend, but it will be in next weekend. Lon thinks that as long as we're going to be home tomorrow, we might as well try to sell a few things. A few signs in the neighborhood should direct some folks our way. I wonder if we'll have anything of value left when people come next weekend in reponse to the ad. Lon says, "If we haven't got much left, so what. People can come and then turn around and go. No big deal." So I'm giving up the fight and saying, "Whatever." That's what I've decided to think about the whole event. Whatever.

I should go through some more things in my closet. I'll consider the necessity of each item. If it doesn't totally trip my trigger, I'll toss it in the "to go" box and say, "Whatever."

Wish me luck.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

I'm Not Well. Come See for Yourself.

I'm almost too pooped to sit up but I simply must post something. The world might stop revolving if I don't put my two cents in.

I worked today, that's the bad news. Well, not really. For one thing, I didn't have to fight with myself to get out of bed this morning because I'm expected at work at 8:00. Another positive is that my job definitely helps my husband and I pay our bills. Thirdly, if I feel unmotivated and my self-esteem is droopy when I awaken, interacting with my co-workers, my boss and the dental patients who come in that day, forces me to rise up out of the muck. Acting perky and cheerful when I really don't feel that way eventually turns things around for me. Even if the entire day is a struggle, I come away from my job with the satisfaction that I did my job and hopefully helped make a difference for at least one person that day. I fear if I were home alone for long periods of time, I'd probably dig a hole and then wallow around in it.

I intended to get my exercise during my lunch break by doing an upper body workout at the Y on the weight machines. As the morning hours passed and I observed the weather conditions through the window by my desk, I discarded my initial workout plan. My thoughts went like this. I rested yesterday. It's sunny and near 70 degrees today. I don't have time for much of a bike ride. I've got to be outdoors. Yeah, I know I ran the day before yesterday but I'm ready to do it again. (The silent majority of my thoughts whispered that running 3.1 miles was the least enjoyable thing I could do with this perfectly lovely hour. Relaxing isn't a sin. Pushing yourself to run that far isn't fun. You know that).

I calculated the calories I would burn and the training benefits I would reap. That cinched it, end of discussion. I drove the five minutes from work to my home. I undressed and donned my running gear. Away I went and within a few minutes, I was once again immersed in the discomfort that running brings. Thirty-three minutes later, I stopped when I came to our yard and walked around to the back of the house. I wanted my privacy. I noticed a few neighbors enjoying the nice weather, doing sane things like fertilizing their lawns or washing their cars. I was breathing so hard and felt so spent that I just wanted to walk around for a few minutes in the back yard all by myself.

I was sweating pretty good when I went in the house. I didn't have time to shower so I peeled off my damp shorts, shirt and underwear, dried off, put on some deodorant, and redressed in my work clothes. I recorded my running time. My stopwatch showed 33 minutes and 48 seconds, better than Tuesday's run. Today's time included a quick run up our next door neighbor's driveway at the start of my run. Carol was outside. She lost her husband last week and I couldn't run by without first giving her a hug. I'm thinking I must've ran about a minute faster than I did on Tuesday. Hey, now that's a plus. All of the sudden, the discomfort I'd just recovered from became less significant. Yes, I have to say that running is similar to childbirth. How quickly the physical pain is forgotten and replaced with joy.

As if the run wasn't challenge enough for today, my two monthly checking account statements showed up in my e-mail today. So after supper, I sat at our pub table in the kitchen and balanced them with my checkbooks. I wasted about fifteen minutes on one of the accounts just because I was using the wrong record book balance when I deducted the outstanding checks. I recalculated all the deposits, checks and debits before I caught my mistake. I did get the job done and now that task won't rear its ugly head for another month. As quickly as I forget misery, in a day or two I'll probably offer to balance the neighbors checkbooks just for the challenge of it.

I'm not well, am I?

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

No More Lazy Bones

I've had a long stretch of easy days since last Thursday. I worked a few hours on Friday and a few more yesterday, otherwise, I've been lord and master of my days.

My manners of self-indulgence during those five days included staying in bed much later than 7:00, my normal rise and shine time. I really shouldn't allow myself that luxury because I always pay a price for it. Guilt looms like a thick, heavy pillow and threatens to suffocate me for my laziness. I feel the guilt pressing on me each time I peek at the clock and then scrunch back down under the covers. Most of those lazy mornings, beyond 7:00, I'm awake or at least partially, so I should get up and do something. I simply find pleasure in starting my day in the throes of ultimate relaxation. It's just that I take leisure to uncomfortable levels when the clock is still glaring at me at 9:30 and I'm still horizontal.

Eventually, guilt grabs me by the scruff of my neck and throws me off the bed. I stagger to gain my balance and head for the bathroom. I've put that trip off for longer than recommended and the immediate relief brings a smile to my face.

Getting up was the most difficult obstacle I faced during those five days. As I write this, I vow to never stay in bed past 8:00 again unless I'm sick or have a good reason. It honestly serves no honorable purpose and the accompanying guilt isn't fun to deal with.

Wish me luck with my new resolution.

(This is kind of a uninteresting post but it's something that's been on my mind. It's a short read for a change; that's probably a relief for most of you).

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Come Along With Me for a 3.1 Mile Run

A big blue sky with intermittent clouds coaxed me outside for my 3.1 mile run this afternoon. The temperature was 53 degrees which is fine for running. The wind was blowing but it wasn't a cold wind so it didn't force me indoors.

My running gear for my initial outdoor run of the year included: a sports bra, a long-sleeved shirt, a lightweight wind breaker, shorts, running shoes and socks, my Road ID bracelet, cotton in my ears, a baseball cap (with a Trek logo of course), sunglasses and my stopwatch.

I've got to tell you about my ID. My Road ID is a durable fabric bracelet which wraps around my wrist and fastens with velcro. A small metal plate on the bracelet is stamped with my name, address, blood type, my husband's and my son's phone numbers, my doctor's and hospital's name, and my insurance name and identification number. It gives me peace of mind when I'm out on the road, whether I'm running or biking. You can read about them and order one at I have 3 bracelets, red, yellow and blue. The metal plate easily transfers from one bracelet to another.

Another interesting thing about my running gear is the shoe laces on my Asics running shoes. They're called Lock Laces. I replaced the original laces with Lock Laces in order to cut down the transition time during the triathlon I competed in last summer. The laces are made of a durable elastic cording. Once the shoe is laced up, you slide both ends of the lace through a plastic locking device. After determining how tight you want the laces to be, you tie a knot in each end of the cord to hold the locking device in place. From that point on, you no longer have to tie and untie your shoes. Your shoes will slide on and off very easily as the elastic cord stretches. In a triathlon, it's very easy to transition from my bike shoes to my running shoes because of this innovation. See the laces on

The route I ran today was flat except for a few very insignificant inclines and declines. I mention them because when I'm running, I'm acutely aware of inclines, no matter how slight they may be. My legs send me an instant message which I get with all it's urgency but I ignore. I have to be tough or I can't be a runner. There's no getting around that.

The sky filled with clouds shortly after I started running. I warm up quickly when I'm running so the slight drop in air temperature didn't bother me. I'm thankful that the sun was shining when I started or I may have taken my running to the indoor track at the Y. That's going to be hard to do now that I've had a taste of fresh air and the ever-changing scenery.

To be honest, I was ready to quit about halfway through my run, but of course I kept on going. Once I set a goal, I complete it, regardless of how I feel. I guess that's what makes it possible for me to push myself to swim, bike and run competitively. Fortunately, I've had enough experience over the years, that I know the proper way to train. I gradually increase my workload so my body and mind can adapt. If I want to increase my running distance, by say half a mile, beyond what I've been doing, my mind coaches my body. It reminds my body that it has exerted this same amount of energy before and that adding a little more isn't that big of a deal. My body has no say in the matter. It grumbles and groans and whines and complains endlessly and I listen sympathetically, but I don't give in to its pleading.

After my run, I again went to my datebook. Today I entered: Ran outside. 3.2miles. Garden Village route. Time 33:55. 53 degrees, NE wind.

I'd like to say that after my shower, I was looking forward to my next run. I'm not. Nevertheless, I'll do it again. My motivation being: It feels SO good when I stop.

Monday, April 13, 2009

My First Trek On My Trek In '09

Last Thursday, the sun was bright in a cloudless sky, the temperature was in the fifties and the air was nearly still. The day was a fine one for my first bike ride of the year. When I got home after work, at 12:30PM, my bike was ready to go. Her soft gold color sparkled in the sunlight after five drab months under a sheet in the basement. My Trek was ready but I had a few things to do.

I stripped off my work clothes, leaving them lying on the bedroom chair. I was excited and in a hurry. I opened the closet at the end of the hall where I keep my athletic tops and jackets, shoes and a whole bunch of other biking, swimming and running gadgets. I chose a long-sleeved pullover shirt with a high zip neck from the clothes rod and pulled that over my head. I went to the other hall closet which holds my shorts, sports bras, Danskin pants, socks and a shelf unit with cubby holes stuffed with other essential odds and ends. I made my choices, slipped on socks, stepped into my black Danskin full-length pants and shut the closet door.

Turning back to the first closet, I grabbed a jacket, my biking shoes, my Road ID bracelet, a Velcro strap to wrap around the ankle of my pants to keep the fabric from getting caught in the bike chain, my thingamajiggy which is technically called a bicycle computer, my sunglasses which have a little oval magnifying lens in the lower half so I can read the computer statistics (useless otherwise, my biking gloves and my helmet. Back in the bedroom, I grabbed a fleece vest to slip over my shirt. I’d rather be too warm than too cold. On a bike, temperatures in the fifties feel cold until I get warmed up. Once I was completely equipped, I fumbled through the bathroom closet looking for some cotton to stuff in my ears with hopes it would ease the earaches I knew would come.

Finally I was back in the garage. I ignored the look of impatience I imagined was coming from my bike. I slid the computer into its receptacle on the handlebars. Oops, I didn’t have my cell phone. I slipped back inside and got my Go Phone out of my purse and zipped it into the tiny bag located under and behind my seat, my bike seat, that is. I was ready and my bike was practically leaving without me. I punched our code in the garage door opener to close it and we were off.

Once we were moving, it was time to clip my shoes to the pedals. To my surprise, I snapped my bike shoe cleats into the pedals on the first try on both pedals. Usually, it takes me a few tries. I checked the computer to see if the trip miles had been reset to zero. All systems were go. Ahhhhhh, it felt so good to be moving over the pavement, actually going somewhere instead of pedaling a stationary bike and going nowhere. The fresh air was a treat too. And yet, I had to be vigilant on this bike. I reminded myself repeatedly that my feet were locked into the pedals and needed that essential heel twist to release them if I wanted to stop. Unfortunately, old habits die hard and, at sixty, habits are pretty deeply ingrained.

I’m planning to participate in the 20th Annual Wellness Biathlon on May 16th again this year. It begins and ends behind the hospital, a couple of miles from here. The twelve-mile bike route used in the biathlon is a favorite of mine and that’s the one I chose to follow on Thursday. It provides an optimal ride on country roads with only a few unintimidating hills.

After pedaling through residential areas, a business square and another residential area, I was out on the open road. Now it was time to get serious. I lowered my forearms onto the aerobars, clicked into a higher gear and picked up speed.

A narrow creek winds along the right side of the road. I snuck a few looks at it until the road turned away from the creek. I clicked the gear shift lever into a lower gear on the first hill of the day as it began to slow me down. With relative ease, and a few more gear shifts, I was on flat ground again. The beauty of that was short-lived as I approached the interstate overpass. Atop the bridge and a bit out of breath, I looked at the cars and semis zooming below me.

For a second, I asked myself why I chose to ride a bike when I had an awesome Chevy Avalanche home in the garage, willing and able to take me anywhere I wanted to go. I refocused on the road ahead of me and instantly remembered why. What goes up must come down. I gradually shifted into higher and higher gears as I accelerated down the other side of the overpass. I felt an adrenal rush as the thrill of speed took over my senses and right with that rush came an equal blast of fear. What if a wheel comes loose? What if something throws me off balance? What if I wipe out? I put a halt to those thoughts with a reproof: Get a grip. Don’t spoil everything by thinking about the danger, beside, your legs and lungs are loving this.

This particular ride, as most long distance rides go, is a combination of ups and downs, stretches of level terrain and constantly changing scenery. The grass along the roads is still much more brown than green and the trees are bare. It won’t be long though before I’ll see positive changes as the sun warms the earth and everything reawakens. Someday when I get past my need to push for speed, I’ll slow down and relish nature without the blur.

Traffic was light in the early afternoon and I didn’t have to stop during the entire ride until I was almost back home. My neck hurt like crazy after the strain of holding my head up while my upper body was bent low over the front wheel. It’ll take a few rides for neck to get reaccustomed to being held in that unnatural position. My ears ached even with the cotton, but otherwise, I was feeling good when I came to a stop at the garage door. Once inside, I slid the computer off its holder, covered my bike with her clear vinyl dust protector and went in the house.

As I shed my biking gear, I made my way to my date book where I record my computer statistics. I wrote: Biked outside. Biathlon route. 14.2 miles. Average speed 12.2 mph. Maximum speed 22.3 mph. Total time 1:09:28. I keep similar records of my swimming and running sessions. It's fun to observe the improvement that comes with practice.

After a shower, I was already looking forward to my next opportunity to do it all over again. Only faster.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Hey, you. Yeah, you. Read this.

To all you good eggs out there,
this is for you:

Whether you scramble it, fry it,
Hard-boil, soft-boil or coddle it,
Pickle, poach or souffle it
Or whip it up for an omelet,
Make sure that today, you

It all boils down to this:


Saturday, April 11, 2009

Wanna Meet My Trek?

On Thursday, I took my first bike ride of the year. I worked in the morning and from the office, I called my husband and asked him if he would haul my bike up from the basement. When I got home, there it was in the garage in all its splendor. If you’re into bikes, you might be interested in its features:

It’s a Trek 7.3 FX WSD (Women Specific Design).
FRAME FX Alpha Black Aluminum
FORK FX Alloy w/tapered wall thickness, straight blades
WHEELS Alloy front, Shimano RM60 rear hub; Bontrager Camino rims
CRANK Shimano M341 48/38/28 w/chainguard

All I really care about is that the wheels go around, it’s lightweight and appropriate for both leisure riding and racing. Oh, it has to be nice looking too. It’s a metallic gold color so I’m good to go. Almost.

Actually, there were a few other things I was concerned about when I bought the bike last year. First, I wanted to be able to see what was happening behind me without physically turning to look back. (I crashed a few years ago doing exactly that). So, I asked the salesman to put a rear view mirror on it. Second, I need my cell phone with me and a few other items so, I told Matt to add a small carryall pack to the underside of my bike seat. Third, on long rides in the heat of the summer, I’m bound to get thirsty. “You better put one of those bottle holders on while you’re at it. Um, how about a black one.”
I was on a roll. Fourth, since I like to compete, I have to know how fast I’m going, how far I’ve gone, my average speed, my maximum speed and heck, why not have a record of my total ride time too. “Excuse me again, Matt. How about one of those thingamajiggys? Yeah, that one in the yellow package hanging right there.” I think Matt was on commission because he was ready and willing to sell me anything I wanted. He wore this big old smile on his face whenever I picked out another item.

You think I’m done buying, right? Wrong. In competitions, a helmet is required. It didn’t take me long to select one that matched my bike. Well, why not? The next purchase was Matt’s fault. “Would you be interested in selecting a clipless shoe/pedal system?” he asked. I knew a little bit about that type of pedal but the idea scared me. The regular pedals are removed and a special type is put on the bike. I would have to select biking shoes. They would be fitted with cleats on the bottom that would fit into a receiver on the pedal. The purpose is to allow force to be applied to the pedal during the upstroke as well as the down stroke, thus creating greater speed.
I decided to give it a try. What’s the worst thing that could happen, I thought. I could lose my balance on the bike and fall with my feet attached to the pedals. To remove your foot and shoe from the pedal, you have to twist your heel in an outward movement. That disconnects the cleat from the pedal. I could get hurt pretty bad. Oh well, I’m a risk taker.

I debated about that longer than any of my other add-ons. I have to say that I’m glad I decided to give it a try because it give me an advantage. It took me a while to learn how to step on the pedal and get the cleat to snap into the receiver with both left and right bike shoes. That took some practice. Then I had to keep it foremost in my mind that when I was riding and I wanted to come to a stop, I couldn’t just put a foot down on the pavement. I had to twist my heel first and then put my foot down. There have been a few occasions at intersections when I’ve forgotten to do that until the very last second. Fortunately, so far, I’ve not made a spectacle of myself by falling over sideways at a stop sign.

After I had my bike for a couple of months and had become used to the clipless pedals, I decided to make my bike more aerodynamic. Another trip to the bike shop and I came away with aerobars attached to my handlebars. They allow me to lean my body forward beyond the handlebars by leaning my forearms on padded rests as my hands grip the aerobars which extend over the front tire. In this position, my body is more streamlined because my upper body is now creating less wind resistance. My neck muscles are strained in this position but they eventually adapt.

I bought my bike in March, last year, and I put over 770 miles on it (I know that because of the thingamajiggy I had Matt put on it). So this year, it didn’t take me long to reacquaint myself with it.

When I started to write here today, I didn’t plan to go into all of these details. But now that I have, I’m going to wait for another day to tell the “rest of the story.”


(By the way, the bike shop had a sale on bikes and all accessories the day I went bike crazy. Just think of all the money I saved!)
Eeeeeek! I just added the two photos, clicked on Publish Post and then clicked on View Blog. My bike photo is fine and dandy, but me in my helmet, oh my! Does anyone know how to delete a photo here or at least change the size? I took it of myself after my ride, bloodshot eyes and all. And whose wrinkles are those? Perhaps my Sony malfunctioned, the naughty little thing!

Friday, April 10, 2009

Perchance To Dream

I really wanted to post something here today, but I'm afraid it's not going to happen. Too many other things got in the way of my normal uninterrupted blog time. I'll definitely make up for it tomorrow as my list of things to do is light. So off to bed I go, perchance to dream of...coming upon a severed head under a newspaper on a park bench...missing the school bus because my books keep slipping out of my hands...coming upon an endless number of quarters, dimes, nickels and pennies on the ground before me and trying to pick them all up...or will my recurring dreams be replaced by something different?...something soothing would be nice.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

My Dilemma

I don't know what I want and I won't be happy until I get it.

Have you ever felt that way? Have I? Well, obviously I have or I wouldn't have written it in bold print across the top of this blog.

Can I be bitchy?

Oh, yeah. I guess I just proved that.

Ok, now let's go back to the first line of this blog.

Periodically, every year, without warning, I get down, dirty and in a slump. I'm unmotivated and I have to force myself to go through the motions of everyday living. I rack my brains trying to figure out how to get going again. The unpredictable roller coaster ride of my life is mentally and emotionally exhausting. At the onset of these painful days, I talk to myself, trying to pull myself out of the gutter. The following dialogue is typical of my inner struggle. I've labeled my inner voices, Self #1 and Self #2. I haven't started talking outloud to myself, yet. That's a plus.

Self #1: You're lethargic, indifferent, irritable and even downright hateful. You hide your anger well but it's there, oh boy, is it ever. The things that go through your mind! What is your problem?

Self #2: I don't know what's wrong with me and what difference would it make if I did?

Self #1: Well, wallowing in this mood again is a waste of time. It's wearing on me after all these years. Get a grip.

Self #2: If you're so wise, you tell me what has thrown me off track. Huh? Come on. Tell me what's wrong with me. Wave your magic wand. I hate this as much as you do.

Self #1: Little things on your mind build themselves into mountains. Let's try to figure out what triggered your depressed mood.

Self #2: I don't care, anymore. I'm so sick of feeling like this. I'm tired of everything and sick of trying to figure out why.

Self #1: Please try to remember what you did to pull yourself out of this mood last time it happened.

Self #2: My brain's asleep. It's hard to think.

Self #1: Did somebody say something that knocked your feet out from under you? You tend to overreact to what people say and distort or blow things out of proportion.

Self #2: Everything everybody says bothers me.

Self #1: How can that be?

Self #2: I don't know why. I just don't want to talk or be around anybody. I want to be alone. When I'm with people, I second guess everything I say and do. I come away feeling inadequate and worthless.

Self #1: You've got a lot to offer; try to think about that.

Self #2: No! I'm stupid and ugly and no good for anything. I just want to stay here at home until I have to go to work.

Self #1: Okay. Here we go. You're beating up on yourself again.

Self #2: Just shut up and get out of here!

Self #1: No. We should do something, anything. Let's go to Target or Menards. How about a walk?

Self #2: I don't know what I want and I won't be happy until I get it.

Self #1: Now you're talking. We've been here before. I recognize this place. Let's fall back on what works. Keep going through the motions exactly as you are and one day soon you'll know what you want and we'll go after it.

Self #2: Right, yeah, right. How'd you get so smart?

Self #1: After sixty years of hanging out with you, I've noticed a pattern. It's a mean and bumpy road you're destined to travel. You've run off it before but you manage to steer yourself back on, somehow.

Self #2: It's scary though. I always wonder, what if I can't get the wheels turning this time?

Self #1: It scares me too, but trust me. Or better yet, trust God. He'll give you a push.

Self #2: I'm afraid He's tired and ashamed of me.

Self #1: Don't be stupid. Talk to Him. Say anything. It doesn't matter.

Self #2: I really don't want to.

Self #1: Do it now and then just wait. Be as patient as you can. It may take a while. When you get your front tires back on the road, the rest will follow.

Self #2: Is that my Bible over there, under those magazines?

Yeah, except for an exceptionally rough time in my twenties, I bounce back in a few weeks or a month. When I'm feeling good, there aren't enough hours in a day for all I want to do. During the hard times, I just want the day to be done.

For me, writing is many things. It's a life jacket when I feel like I'm drowning. I can write when nothing seems right. It gives me an outlet and I don't feel stuck and stagnant when the words start to flow.

For now, I've got a new banner to wave. It reads like this:

I know that I want to write and I'm happy when I get to.

Oh, yeah and Amen.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Typso. Oops, I Mean Typos

The last two or three days, I've been consistently failing to capitalize the first letter of words that need it. I don't know if I'm just plain lazy or more seriously deficient. The little finger on each of my hands naps on the A and the :; key, completely ignoring their responsibility to hit the shift key when, out of respect and tradition, I attempt to appoint an upper case letter to lead the word into place. Those uncooperative, bordering on petulant, pinky fingers of mine! Posing as weak and innocent bystanders, they're insidious villains and enemies of my creative endeavors.

On any given day, I'm plagued with various, persistent typo difficulties and I've learned to accept and deal with them. My impatience is definitely a major threat to accuracy when I'm hunkered down in front of my computer. When my thoughts--in all their dazzling brilliance--come fast and furiously, I impulsively throw my hands at the keyboard and start typing wherever they land. Typically they commence typing at least a key to the right or left of the home keys, (the a, s, d, f and the j, k, l, :; keys) where all decipherable typing originates. My fingers bounce up and down without hesitation until I pause to check my work. What's this? I ask. In response, my fingers freeze up and momentarily hover paralyzed over the keys.

What I see on the monitor doesn't match my intentions. 'Oh, for crying out loud,' I scold myself. Fortunately, the resulting combinations of letters are easily demolished and rebuilt. The backspace and delete keys make up my tag team. They stand by faithfully and bail me out time and time again. They muscle at least two or three bailouts in an average length sentence.

I bet you think I'm exaggerating. I wish I was. I know I could have written a lengthy book in the accumulated time I have spent backspacing, deleting and retyping my messes. One of these days, I'll publish a sample of my unedited writing. I guarantee that it will be impressive in revealing the blatant bungling I have spoken of and valid proof of the obstacles I encounter and prevail against as I continue to write.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

She Ain't Heavy, She's My Other Side

This morning at work, I planned my day. From my desk beside the window, I could see the sun was shining and things appeared acceptable for my first outdoor run of the year. I'd packed my bag last night with thoughts of doing my three mile run at the Y. To heck with that I thought as I felt the warmth of the sun coming through the glass.

The clock finally surrendered to noon with both its hands held straight up. The office closes at noon on Tuesdays, so I grabbed my jacket and walked out to my truck. Hmmmm, it's kind of windy out here, I thought to myself. I climbed up in my Avalanche, a workout in itself, and drove to the bank to make a deposit. When I got out of the truck and walked up the sidewalk to the main entrance, I zipped my jacket all the way up to my chin. I couldn't ignore the strength of the wind as I pulled the door open.

Two people were ahead of me in line. While I impatiently waited, shifting my weight back and forth from one foot to the other, I looked out the big plate glass windows at the flag in front of the building. I didn't want to believe that my plans to get some fresh air along with my exercise today weren't plausible. The flag was totally out of control, whipping and snapping every which way. Oh, no. The route I take from my home into the neighboring areas is entirely out in the open, with no significant wind breaks. If the wind is blowing, I can't avoid it.

Dog gone it. Part of me wanted to drive home and just do it anyway. If I wore a headband over my ears, I wouldn't get an earache. I have plenty of running clothes that I could layer and I'd stay warm, I told myself. I was avoiding the main issue. My sensible side reminded me that it's not fun to run at least a mile and a half into the wind. My stubborn side defended her case by arguing that the wind would be behind me for just as long.

I sat in the truck after I left the bank and tried to make the decision whether I should go to the Y or go home to run. My sensible side put it's arm around my stubborn side and spoke quietly to her, "Remember how hard it is to run three miles with no wind whatsoever? Why make it harder when you don't have to? I promise you that one day real soon, we'll have ideal weather conditions. We'll feel the sun on our skin, the pavement under our feet and no wind to slow us down. Let's hit the track. If you stop arguing, I'll carry you on my back when we start mile number three. So what do you say?"

My stubborn side stopped grumbling long enough to agree and to ask, "One more thing. Will you sing 'What a Wonderful World' to me while we run?"

My winning side replied with an imitation of Satchmo's voice, "Oh, yeah."

Monday, April 6, 2009

What a Wonderful World

A friend of mine reminded me of this song today. Have you heard Louis Armstrong sing, What a Wonderful World?

It goes like this:

I see trees of green, red roses too,
I see them bloom, for me and for you,
And I think to myself:
What a wonderful world.

I see skies of blue and clouds of white,
The bright blessed day, the dark sacred night,
And I think to myself:
What a wonderful world.

The colors of the rainbow, so pretty in the sky,
Are also on the faces of people going by,
I see friends shaking hands, sayin,' "How do you do?"
They're really sayin', "I love you."

I hear babies cryin', I watch them grow,
They'll learn much more than I'll ever know,
And I think to myself:
What a wonderful world.

Yes, I think to myself:
What a wonderful world.
Oh yeah.

(When Louis sings it, I believe it.)

Sunday, April 5, 2009

For Pete's Sake

This morning, I responded to a writing prompt presented in Ann Linquist's creative writing site. As a follower, I was invited to consider what plans I'd make if I found out I only had six months to live. I normally submit a response to writing prompts quickly and easily. It's unheard of for me to wait three days to put in my two cents. Ann threw me with this one.

When I first read the prompt, I was taken aback. A few minutes later, I jotted down my initial thoughts on the back of an envelope. My plans were simply lovely. Among them were: I'd write letters telling folks how fond I was of them. I'd pray and read scripture more. I'd banish anxious thoughts. I'd smell the roses. I'd say I love you at every opportunity.

I was haunted by my list. I longed to know what my true reaction would be. Hours and then an entire day passed. I gave the possibility of an aborted future more consideration and I doubted that I would respond as I'd first predicted. I became angry and frustrated at my need to submit something. I made a very different list. It was far from lovely. I foretold things like this: I'd write hate letters. I'd break things. I'd cuss. I'd regret the good things I've done. I'd get even.

My second list seemed more realistic, knowing myself as I do. I decided to submit both of my lists to the writing site. After I clicked the submit button, I wept briefly. I seldom cry.

Maybe in a day or two I'll understand why.

[I can't leave my thoughts for a day or two. I'm still sitting here. I'm often puzzled when I experience negative feelings. I constantly try to fathom issues, myself and others and when I can't (99% of the time), I'm unsettled. Maybe I don't deserve six more months when I see myself as I truly am. I personally know many people who have died prematurely or are now facing the real possibility of death in spite of their goodness].

I've had enough of this for now. It's time to click PUBLISH POST and walk away. Bye.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Come On In, The Water's Fine

I awaken around 6AM this morning and my mind gropes in search of what day of the week it is. When my mental rebooting is complete, I conclude that it's Saturday. Ahhhhhh. In a split second, I download my initial decision of the day: there's no way I'm getting up yet. An hour passes. I peek at the clock again. It's still too early to start the day. Even though I'm not even sleepy, I refuse to rise. Another hour passes.

Somehow, I manage to extract myself from between the bedsheets at 8AM. I stagger to where April's YMCA pool schedule is posted inside my closet door. I squint at the blue sheet of paper and confirm that if I hurry I can lane swim before the youngsters take over the pool at 9AM. I throw on some clothes, cram swim gear and toiletry items into my vinyl-lined leather tote bag, pour coffee into my favorite mug and slide into the Avalanche.

Five minutes later, I park, grab my bag and enter the Y. Looking down at the pool, I'm relieved to see there's only one swimmer in one of the six lanes. Downstairs, in the locker room, I undress. I slip into my swimsuit, stretch my swim cap over my head, snap on my goggles and step into my shower sandals. I slide my indispensable lap counter onto my first finger, grab my shampoo and body wash and head to the showers and on into the pool area.

The water feels slightly cool as I ease myself over the edge of the pool. I lower myself until only my neck and head are dry. Brrrrr. For about 5 seconds, I feel chilled. The best way to solve that is to get moving. I start my lap counter, push off the end of the pool and begin swimming. When I reach the opposite end of the pool, I press the counter button with my thumb, turn around and head back from whence I came. I swim 36 lengths of the pool before I call it quits. Ahhhhh. Then, and only then, I stop and let myself relax. After two or three minutes of floating and easing my muscles, I pull myself up over the pool edge and head for the locker room. I don't have to get rush anywhere so I reward myself with a nice, long shower. I have all the time in the world to dress and put on a touch of makeup. I'm so used to hurrying to get to the office that it feels odd to take my time.

When I get in my truck, I can smell the hazelwood coffee left in my cup. What the heck. Even though it's cold, I enjoy the last swallows as I drive home. After I unpack my bag, I record several statistics from my lap counter into my exercise log book. My total swim time was 25 minutes, 11 seconds. My average time for swimming each length was 41.99 seconds. My fastest length was length number 36 at 35.27 seconds. My slowest length was number 27 at 47.97 seconds. I love my lap counter. Focusing on stroke mechanics and counting at the same time is more than I want to cope with.

I'm training for a sprint triathlon. The event will take place in July so I'm gearing up for the challenge. I'll run 3 miles on Monday and cycle 12 miles on Wednesday. An upper body workout Thursday or Friday and another swim on Saturday or Sunday will complete another week's training.

I've begun my day on schedule. Who cares about the rest of the day! After all, it's Saturday.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Eyes Open, But Nobody's Home

That's me today. I crawled out of bed at 7:00AM, showered, dressed and went to work. On Fridays, I work from 8:00 to noon. I drove out of the dental office parking lot at 12:01PM, stopped at the bank to deposit my pay check, bought stamps at Walgreens and rented Slumdog Millionaire from the video store on the corner.

As I write this blog for today, I'm only alert enough to spill a few words out. I don't know why but since I woke this morning, although the sun is brightly shining, I'm definitely living in a mental fog. A nap sounds nice but my husband is outside raking. I'm going to join in the "fun" and hope to have an improved report upon my return.

Two hours of raking have passed and I have to admit that I feel a bit more invigorated, a smidgen motivated and less mentally impaired. I wore a headband outside to prevent an earache, a fleece top over my shirt and a down-filled vest to boot. The sunshine on my back and my physical effort had me shed the vest early on. I tossed the fleece top when I raked out of the wind. Back inside, I find myself thinking positively about the laundry. I'm ready to tackle the pile. Normally, on Tuesday and Friday afternoons, I do a load or two. Doing that seemed out of the question earlier but after the fresh air and change of scenery, I'm up to it.

I'm flaming now. I sorted laundry and chucked a load of towels in the washer. Back upstairs, I emptied my carryall bag of a coffee mug, a water bottle, my deposit and debit receipts, my check stub, the movie video, the stamps, an empty plastic container w/lid (it had raisin bran for breakfast in it), my purse and keys. I entered the deposit and debits in my checking account record, put some items in the dishwasher and watered my poinsettia plant.

My husband is bringing dinner home soon. A restaurant close by does a great job with cod on Wednesday and Fridays. We'll soon be perched on our pub table enjoying wine, beer, cod, American fries, coleslaw, French bread and each other. Later, we'll watch the movie and that'll be it for the day.

The sun is still shining, my mental fog has lifted and it's been a good day after all.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Door County for Dummies

My grandma used to say, “If you place your left hand, palm down with fingers slightly spread, that’s the shape of Wisconsin. Your thumb’s there for a reason—why, it’s Door County.” I found another use for my thumb when, in my teens, I hitchhiked all the way up to the tip of that infamous county and back home again. That was in 1963 and was the dumbest thing I ever did.

Since then, I’ve gotten older and somewhat wiser. Twice a year, I hop in my jade green Jeep Liberty and leave my home in Two Rivers, Wisconsin—which sits south of Door County on Lake Michigan, right where (if you place your hand like grandma said to) the lower joint of your left thumb juts out—to hunt down bargains that beckon to me from the unique shops along the bay side of “The Door.”

I travel up Highway 42 to Sturgeon Bay and head across the thumb to Egg Harbor on Green Bay. Quaint little towns dot the shoreline as I mosey up the peninsula. After Egg Harbor, I reacquaint myself with Fish Creek, Ephraim, Sister, Ellison Bay and finally Gill’s Rock. That needn’t be my final stop if I opt to take the ferry to Washington Island from Northport Pier. Washington Island is like an elusive jewel—just out of reach—yet tempting the thumb and forefinger of Wisconsin to pull it down into the safety of Green Bay.

Six miles across, Washington Island often succeeds in enticing me to cross the waters via the Washington Island Ferry Line which passes three small islands: Pilot, Plum, and Detroit, on its crooked trip.

Shops bearing the names: What’s Next, Blue Willow Shop, The Magic Jacket, Maxwell’s House, and Chelsea Antiques nonchalantly display their wares. During my most recent trip in January, inside the What’s Next shop, I chanced upon and fell in love with a red shoulder bag by Baggalini. I knew it was just what I need for my upcoming trip to Boston in late September; it has a cute pocket—perfect for my Sony Cyber-Shot camera. I pulled plastic from my pocket and plunked it on the counter to make my purchase. “Please put it in a pretty bag,” I pleaded.

The Bluefront CafĂ©, Double Delites, Blue Horse Bistro & Espresso, Whistling Swan Restaurant, Chef’s Hat, and Fred & Fuzzy’s Waterfront Bar & Grill casually offer food and drink to those who need to wet their whistles or sample excellent cuisine. At noon, toting my new red bag, I chose to enjoy the water view from a table at the rear of the Blue Horse Bistro & Espresso. I rejuvenated myself with a panini grilled sandwich and a serving of “Fair Trade” organic coffee presented in a miam.miam “whimsical neo surrealistic” mug. I absolutely couldn’t walk out of there without purchasing my own whimsical mug which comes with a promise to inspire and amuse me whenever I need stimulation.

Galleries are plentiful including Popelka Trenchard Glass, Gloria Hardiman’s Maple Grove Gallery, PKJ Designs, and Turtle Ridge Gallery, to name a few. Fine art glass, oil paintings by internationally known artists, handcrafted jewelry by J. Jeffrey Taylor, contemporary art furniture by Michael Beaster, neon sculpture by Jeff Coan, and original leather handbag designs of artist Mary Ellen Sisulak comprise a short list of indulgences displayed by business owners in places both on and off the beaten path.

A voice within me whispers, every time I meander over the winding, hilly roads, lined with my favorite places: it’s time, splurge now and/or regret it later.

I’m still a dummy when I encounter discounts and deals. I’m dumb enough to think that I’m truly saving money, that I’m a wise shopper when I get something at half the regular price. It’s only when I return home and can’t find room for my purchases that I pause and wonder at my frivolousness. By then, I’m in love with all my new stuff and we’re hopelessly inseparable.

The drive from Sturgeon Bay to Northport Pier takes approximately one hour, that is, if you don’t stop to shop, gawk or talk. That piece of trivia came from a ferry brochure, certainly not from my own experiences.

Now that you’re no longer dumb about the county of Door, you’ve still no reason to be smart and conservative with your time and resources. Follow my example, being dumb is a choice you can make, and enter the artsy and relaxed atmosphere that belongs to Door County, Wisconsin.

P.S. The parts about hitchhiking and living in Two Rivers are fiction. I wrote this for a writing class last year so I jazzed it up a bit. Everything else is spot on.