Tuesday, May 26, 2009
The target has been identified. Several members of this raiding party have been caught, but none are talking. Efforts are underway to move them to a secure location for further interrogation. Watch out, fellow gardeners, there may be sleeper cells in your area.
Sunday, May 24, 2009
Yesterday afternoon for about an hour we had low, deep rumbles of thunder. Usually when a storm moves in, my DH and I start making plans to get out of the house. Our sweet 10-year old dog, Daisy, has storm phobia, and it's manifested by non-stop barking and racing window to window or door to door. She pants heavily and long ropey strands of thick drool drip hang from her chin. We've tried everything from drugs to de-sensitization to music to herbs to try to make it less stressful for her, but nothing has worked. When she was much younger, my DH and I would shout over the barking, "One of these days she'll be an old dog and her hearing will be gone and we won't have to deal with this." How I wish I could take those words back.
Daisy isn't deaf, but she is losing her hearing. Yesterday she never lifted her head once from her bed while it thundered. I've noticed she doesn't always hear the car pull into the driveway. And sometimes when we call her she doesn't respond. It seems to be low, deep sounds that she's having trouble hearing. The sounds of kids, birds, chipmunks and squirrels still capture her attention.
She is moderately energetic and with her new summer haircut, she is sometimes mistaken for a young puppy. But it makes me sad when I see these signs of aging.
Sunday, May 17, 2009
Our community was privileged to have an amazing young woman, Katie Visco, run through it's rolling hills and mountains on her way to San Diego, CA. Yep--that's right--she's running every step of the way as a fundraiser for GIRLS ON THE RUN.
Imagine the determination it must take to get up in the morning and know you are going to average another 17 miles on your quest to run 3,200 miles from Boston to San Diego. When she succeeds, she'll be the youngest woman ever to accomplish the feat--only 11 have ever done it.
Along the way, she is stopping at schools to talk to young girls to encourage them set and meet goals and to live their dreams. There can be no doubt that she has succeeded in at least one of her goals--being an inspiration.
Here is a statement about why she’s doing this: “I am doing this to inspire people to pursue their passion in life! I have a mantra, Pave Your Lane, which represents the idea of finding your passion, and pursuing it - you do not need a scripted track or "lane" paved out for you to do this. YOU are the one who will pave your OWN lane, and you can do so with your passion as your guide.”
Find out lots more at her website, http://www.paveyourlane.com/
After hearing of her journey, it was impossible to skip out on my run Friday evening, even though I wasn't in the mood. And, as usual, I was glad I ran. Along the way I gave a lot of thought to Katie and what it would be like, say, as a 2nd grader, to meet her. Would I have had bigger dreams growing up? Would I have truly appreciated and understood the enormity of her quest? Would I have realized how privileged I was to meet her? Would her visit have influenced me to take more risks?
I'll never know for sure the answers to those questions. But I can guess at them from the great year I've had on SparkPeople (one-year anniversary is May 31).
In January 2008, I joined a gym for the first time ever to build strength for a 300+ mile bike ride. I knew I would be intimidated by the equipment and the buff bodies there, so I hired a personal trainer for 6 weeks to get me started. It was a smart investment. She showed me how to use the equipment and then challenged me to push to my limits at every session. The training paid off, and I found that I loved strength training and continue it today.
Then, in April 2008, I started taking the first steps to running a 5K. Those were difficult days. I didn't really like running, but I wanted to run with a group of my co-workers in a benefit race. So I persevered and ran the race. I figured I'd stay with running just enough so that I could compete in more 5Ks, but there was no dream of ever going any further.
Then I joined SparkPeople and everything turned upside down and inside out. There were so many amazing people running faster and farther, people competing in tris, and people transforming themselves from couch potatoes to marathoners, from 230 lb. weaklings to 130 lb. athletes.
Since that humble 5K start in April 2008, I have run a half marathon, am in training for a 2nd, and have a marathon on the schedule for 2010.
Dear friends, you have inspired and motivated me to dream bigger dreams, to set and meet long-term goals, and to appreciate the small accomplishments and set backs along the way. They are all way points on this wonderful journey. There are so many spark pages I have visited without leaving a footprint behind, but you, too, have given me encouragement and at times made me laugh or cry.
I'm grateful to belong to such a supporting and caring community. The bottom line--thanks for making this year so wonderful and know that like Katie, you are an inspiration to many, many others.
The Climb (Chorus)
There's always going to be another mountain
I'm always gonna want to make it move
Always gonna be an uphill battle
Sometimes I'm gonna to have to lose
Ain't about how fast I get there
Ain't about what's waiting on the other side
It's the climb, It's the climb!!
Sunday, May 10, 2009
Yesterday I was so excited to get my day started--I was putting in my first sizable vegetable garden -- 10 x 15 -- and then going for a 6-mile run. A friend and I applied for one of the community garden plots at the university and were going to split it between us, but Friday she called to say that she wouldn't be able to help and that if I wanted to take the entire garden, I should.
A local organization was having a plant sale so I stopped there first. I was like a kid in a candy shop--8 heirloom tomatoes, 4 broccoli, 2 eggplants, 1 cucumber, 12 lettuce, 6 spinach, 4 brussel sprouts, 4 bell peppers, 4 jalapeno and 1 cayenne pepper, rosemary, cilantro, and parsley. Then I realized I hadn't seen any beans, sugar snap peas, radishes, or carrots, so I ran to Lowe's and picked up seeds for them, plus Cosmo and Lavender. When I took the inventory I was a bit worried that there might not be enough space in the garden.
When I arrived at the garden around 10, there were already about a half dozen gardeners hard at work. Some gardens had already been planted, others were in progress, and a couple hadn't yet had ground broken. I met my "neighbors"--either grad students or their spouses and we learned that we were all novice gardeners.
I was surprised when I saw that I was going to have to dig up and turn over all of the soil before I started planting. So I went to the shed, pulled out a shovel, rake and hoe, and started to work. The ground looked as if it had never been gardened before and was packed and hard. I turned over the first couple of shovelfuls and realized that it would probably take me hours just to break up the soil and work in some compost. Boy, did I wish that I had a rototiller handy!! I walked around the other plots and could tell that everyone had done it by hand.
After two hours, the ground was all broken, but still too rough to plant. It was time for lunch, so I brushed myself off and got in the car to run out to grab a bite to eat. I scared myself when I looked into the car's mirror. Sweat had been seeping into my eyes and every time I wiped them, a little soil was left behind. It was very windy and my hair was sticking out in 50 different directions. I cleaned up as best I could and got some lunch. It felt wonderful to sit, but I was afraid my back was going to stiffen too much, so I didn't rest for long.
Shortly after 1 p.m., I started breaking up the large clumps of soil. This was as hard as breaking ground. Another 2 hours flew by. By now, I wondered if I could keep on going. My hamstrings and back were as tight as violin strings, and the foot I was using to push in the shovel was beginning to ache. But I had 3 trays of plants and just couldn't abandon them. I took a second break and walked around the plots again to meet some new people and see what they were planting. It was nice meeting new people and hear their enthusiasm when they talked about their gardens. By the end of summer, I'm sure we'll all have made some new friends.
Now I had to work in some compost, so I grabbed a wheelbarrow, loaded it and began working it in, still trying to break down any remaining large clumps. Another 90 minutes went by. It took 3 trips to mix compost in the entire garden. Finally, it was time to set in the plants.
At lunch, I had taken graph paper and mapped out my garden. Too bad I left it in the car, and I was too tired to walk to the car. After another hour, I had all of the plants in, but hadn't planted all of the seeds. Monday I'll plant the beans and peas and I still have to buy some Genovese basil. Then it was several trips back and forth with the watering cans to get everything hydrated--the plants had already begun to wilt.
At 6 p.m., I called it quits. I looked around and saw that I was the only one still there. But it felt great knowing that most of the work was done, and I had done it all myself. I will really appreciate those vegetables when the harvest comes in.
It's about a half hour drive from the gardens to my home. I could barely peel myself out of the car; every muscle in my back and legs had stiffened. At first, I was dreading the thought of waking up Sunday--muscles always hurt more the day after and the worst 2 days after. And then a second thought occurred to me that brought a huge smile to my face. All of the strength training and aerobic exercise allowed me to do heavy work all day long doing something new. How wonderful is that??? Those muscles aren't just for looks (I'm finally seeing some definition!!) . The gardening would have been more difficult a year ago, and I doubt I would have been able to get it all done in one day by myself.
Today I am a bit sore and tight, but I've already done some yoga which has loosened my back considerably. A half hour session this afternoon should have me back to as good as new.
I was disappointed that I didn't get my run in, but I'm sure I made up for it considering I spent at least 5 1/2 hours digging--surely that's strength training and aerobic exercise all rolled into one.
Monday, May 04, 2009
My husband, a friend and I left arrived in NYC Saturday afternoon under clear skies. We drove to Totonno’s Restaurant to meet my nephew who I hadn’t seen in years. After graduating from Purdue he headed to sunny San Diego and just this past Fall to NYC. It took us about 30 minutes of circling several blocks until we found a parking space. None of the parking garages would permit us to park because we had the bikes on a hitch rack, which took up more than the allotted space for a vehicle. Even though the bikes were locked securely to the hitch and the hitch was locked to the car, I was worried that we’d come back from dinner and find that our bikes had been stripped of everything removable—wheels, handlebars, computers (we should have taken them off!!)—and only the frames would be locked to the rack. But nothing dastardly happened, and we had a great time catching up with my nephew.
Then we headed to the hotel in the financial district. DH dropped us off at our hotel (we spent 30-45 minutes going in circles trying to locate the hotel) and headed to the wilds of NJ to stay. My friend and I were in NYC to ride in Sunday’s New York City 5 Boros Bike Ride—traffic free riding through Manhattan, the Bronx, Queens, Brooklyn and Staten Island—and DH was going to the Yankees game. We checked in, took our bags and bikes up to our room and organized everything for Sunday’s early departure.
Sunday morning we awoke around 4:30 a.m. We hadn’t planned to be up quite that early, but decided since we were awake, we’d get up. Line up for the ride was to begin at 6:30 a.m., but we figured people would start congregating long before then, and we wanted to be one of the first 10,000 in line. Thirty thousand cyclists were registered for this annual event.
The weather forecast was not promising—overcast with a 30% chance of rain in the early morning increasing to 60%-80% chance beginning about 10 a.m. We debated about what to wear—be optimistic and dress lightly or be pessimists and dress for the worst-case scenario. We compromised—short sleeve bike tops and rain jackets. We did not wear the warm, long-sleeved shirts under the bike tops (a BIG mistake).
We arrived at Battery Park at 6 a.m. and got in line. And as expected, there were thousands in line before us, but we were in the first 10,000!! By 6:30 a.m., it had started to drizzle. We kept entertained by batting around a number of beach balls that kept flying our way, and looking at the decorated helmets. Riders from Maine had lobsters on their heads, another group had flowers in flower pots, and some D.C. riders had the dome of the Capitol attached. There were birds, rats, palm trees, butterflies, streamers and who knows what else setting atop bike helmets. I wish I had taken more pictures, but it rained hard enough that I was concerned about ruining the new camera. (We’re thinking our cycling group—The Fit Chicks—will have to come up with some helmet decorations for our next trip. We’re from rural Pennsylvania, so maybe Punxsutawney Phil, the famous weather-forecasting groundhog, or a cow—farming is the No. 1 industry in PA—or the Penn State Nittany Lion.)
At 7:45 a.m., a few dignitaries made remarks and shortly after 8 a.m., we were off . . . . at a crawl. Imagine getting 30,000 cyclists underway—it’s a slow start. For the first 2 blocks, we walked our bikes. Slowly, space opened up and we began to walk a bit faster. Finally, we were able to jump on our bikes and begin riding, and it was a good thing, because already we were damp and chilled.
Our ride took us from Church Street to Sixth Avenue (Avenue of the Americas) and through beautiful Central Park, which was lovely with azaleas and dogwood in bloom. At times, traffic jams (bicycles, not cars) occurred and we would have to get off the bikes and walk for a block or more. We watched joggers out run us. We were not expecting that, though we should have.
The most impressive bridge crossing was the Queensboro Bridge. Unfortunately, I didn’t get to cross it with my friend. We had gotten separated somewhere along the FDR Parkway. I didn’t learn until I was in Queens that she had her first flat tire (ever!) and had to learn how to do it on the fly. She is a very tenacious and resourceful woman and managed to get the job done. I waited in Queens at the rest stop just before Astoria Park for her to catch up. While waiting, a cyclist pedaling a rickshaw pulled in with his dog, Cooper, running alongside. Cooper looked fine, but Sean looked exhausted. I learned that the rickshaw with Sean in it weighed about 300 lbs. And much to my relief, Cooper was only occasionally running alongside—he was usually riding on the bench seat with Sean. (See photo album.) I’ll admit it; I was more concerned about the dog’s welfare, than Sean’s. In October, Sean, his dog, and a friend, Pierre, are going to bike across country in the rickshaw (see Rickshawusa.blogspot.com) or join Facebook Group: Rickshaw Diaries, if you’re interested in following this crazy journey that begins October 1, 2009.
Just before reaching Astoria Park, my friend blew another flat tire. Luckily, we were within a few yards of the next break area which had a repair tent. She got in line for a repair, and I got in line for the Porta-potty. After a bite to eat, we walked our bikes through the next traffic jam and headed onto Brooklyn. It had been raining the entire trip, and we were cold and shivering for miles and regretting that we hadn’t dressed warmer.
We were about half way through Brooklyn when the third flat tire happened. This time I was alongside her, so we both began walking. We walked for several miles before finding a ride marshall to find out how far away the next repair station was. We still had at least a quarter mile to go, and we had to make it there by 2:15 p.m., because they would be closing that checkpoint down then. It was the last rest stop and the last stop where we could opt for the sag wagon. We didn’t have much time, so I decided to ride ahead and let them know she was coming in the hope that if she arrived a bit late, they’d wait for her. That’s when I got my flat tire. I started to maneuver the bike to the sidewalk so I wouldn’t get run over by other cyclists. As I went up over the lip of the curb cutaway, my front wheel bounced off the lip, and I went tumbling onto the sidewalk. I jumped up and found I had a skinned shin and some bruises, but nothing major except the bruise to my pride. But the fall had knocked the handlebars askew. We walked the bikes the last quarter mile and called it quits. If we repaired the bikes and had yet another flat, we would have no way to get the bikes repaired, and we’d be on our own in a city we didn’t know how to get around. The sag wagon wouldn’t leave until the route closed, which was 5 p.m. We were too cold to wait in a bus for 3 hours. A couple of other riders were calling it quits, too, due to flat tires, so we took off searching for the subway. By now, we were shivering so hard we could hardly talk. Our hair was soaked and the rain was seeping through the helmets and rolling down our faces and necks. We all cracked jokes along the way – we thought we were the victims of a New York Insiders’ joke—every couple of blocks we’d stop to ask where the nearest subway station was, and each time, we were told it was just 2 more blocks that way. We must have walked about 45 minutes before coming to the station. We purchased our tickets and were relieved to get inside a warm train. Then we caught the Ferry back to Manhattan.
Despite all the travails, or maybe because of them, we want to ride again next year. It’s a rare opportunity to ride traffic-free through one of the greatest cities in the world. Being one of 30,000 cyclists is amazing. The organizers and volunteers perform a Herculean task to make this possible. Next year, we’ll plan a little better, and we’ll take our hybrid bikes—they’ll be better to take on the mean city streets of New York.
If you want to know more about the 5 Boros Bike Ride, visit http://www.bikenewyork.org/index.html
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