Monday, January 23, 2012

Tagged

warmth
breathe deeply
warmth
long breath
centrifuge of history, in sync
blue moon, hardwood beneath
shoes brushing dust aside, together
unison, memories tangle and unknot
warmth
breathe quickly
warmth
long breath
jazz player known, saxophone
melody old, all new

awaken cold
startle
first breath of newborn
like stab of bronchitis

calm now, backtrack
pressure to thumbtack
until it is flush with surface again
gentle leading back to dream
salty eye water taffy
down face
dance no more
sleep

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Knick, Knack, Paddy Whack

So my only interaction with a bike saddle of late has been on a stationary recumbent on campus or the quick jaunt to the grocery store this past weekend.

My passion for riding has somehow lost some PSI. This one activity that has educated me more than any one single vehicle ever could, has taken a back seat to schedules, life and well nothing at all.

Can a career be a life? Can ones life be their career? Can ones passion(s) fade while professional pursuits take the lead? I say hell no to all of that garbage. And yet...here I am.

Recently, I was asked by a colleague what my hobbies were.

Long silence.

When I was growing up, I had three immediate neighbors. Eunice Fay, Lucille Johnson and Ethel Stone. Right. Old ladies.

Eunice lived to the north of my house. The Fays lived in what was once the town's hotel. In the summers their granddaughter Cindy would come to stay and we would twirl baton, smoke stolen Salem Lights, make large batches of mud pies and flirt with boys. I flirted with girls sometimes too just because I could. Whatever, it worked.

I would imagine that Cindy and I were in the wild west, staying at a hotel with gun-slinging cowpokes and drinking shots of something really gross at the local saloon - it was on the corner of Main Street and called the Knotty Pine, if memory serves -within eye-shot of Ethel's house. I was like 8. Vivid imagination, even then. Gawd.

Immediately to the south of my house, was Lucille Johnson - full name: Emma Marie Lucille Harris Johnson. She was my great grandmother. My mother's father's mother. Catch that?

A widow, my great grandma had a long-time boyfriend after my great grandpa died in the late 70's. Her "steady-Eddy" called himself "Taffy", but his mother thought Myron was better. I'd stick with Taffy too. They co-parented a little dog named "Happy". I remember this dog as being the center of grandma's world - and Taffy's, for that matter.

Happy was what we termed a "wiener dog". He was friendly, yet protective. Barked a little, but not obnoxiously. Played with my sister and I every day. This poor sweet little dog developed diabetes and grandma and Taffy would take turns testing his urine with Ketone strips and adjusting his insulin injections. Crazy shit to do for a dog in terms of public opinion from the narrow scope of a small mid-western town's lens in the 1980's. Nonetheless, there it was.


I was grandma's right-hand girl. I did her cleaning, hand scrubbed her floors, vacuumed with her "Hokey" and ate Jiffy blueberry muffins and Little Debbie Zebra Cakes. Yep, that was about the size of my youth for many years - hangin at great grandma Johnson's. And lifting those Salem Lights from her tiny bedroom in the far west of her little mobile home. Hell, she bought cartons.


I eventually gave it up when my sister was old enough to steal them too! Besides, I found vodka, which made cigs so "yesterday". I was about 12, 13 by then.


Listen, parents who worked their asses off, who lived in a tiny town filled with other parents working their asses off - left a whole crop of children in the middle of nowhere who had endless hours for mischief. That's the way it was.

Next to grandma, more south, was the last house on the block across from the Mill & Elevator. Ethel Stone lived there with her husband. Our other neighbor, Eunice Fay had a husband too - Everett, but I cannot for the life of me remember Ethel's husband's name. Either way, from my view, all of the women on the block, save for our younger family in the middle, outlived their mates and kept a pretty static life from there on in. Even Taffy succumbed to some malady and left grandma alone for many years, until her own death in the mid 1990's.

These memories were triggered tonight by one small act - a reused cottage cheese container. Yep- that's right. I am Ethel Stone.




I work. That's my hobby.

I met my girlfriends this past Sunday and brought home a crock of leftover meatless chili from our gathering. I divided it between a salvaged 1% cottage cheese tub, a fat free sour cream container and one other former sour cream receptacle.

As a child I would go visit Ethel and make some odd notes in my child brain that cataloged the fact that she had countless cottage cheese containers, incubating seedlings in her kitchen window. She, along with all of my neighbors saved things that. I now save containers until I eventually have a cupboard full and have to purge or recycle - most of them are stamped with a #5 and thus not recycled in my "zone" - just sayin.

Honestly, if I could give any credit to my sustainable-leaning-coop-bulk-food-buying nature, it would be to those old ladies who knew a little something about how to not waste.

But anyway, the point of this piece is to hatchet off the bark on this damn tree of frustration that I have been growing into.

At 41, I feel every bit connected to these long-gone old ladies I once knew. How does one reinvent themselves over and over and over again? I have done it so many times that I was hoping/thinking at some point, I would just settle into something fat and comfortable.

But I cannot. I am not good in stagnant waters. Never have been.

So - what's my next chapter?

...well, getting my jumbled thoughts back into the written word and out of my over-crowded brain is a start.

I'll keep you posted.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Tons of Nuns

Sister Mary Clarence: "If you wake up in the morning, and you can't think anything but singing, then you should be a singer, girl."


So where has pedalgrl been? I've been away, 'tis true, and it took the "gas station" blog written by a former colleague of mine to thrust me back into my text editor.

After fifteen years with one company, the shit finally hit the fan and I was able to muster up enough energy (and references) to enter the job market in earnest.

On the third day of January 2011, I began a new journey that to this day makes me shake my head in disbelief, with my trademark chuckle along for the ride.

In the spirit of keeping this blog leaner than before, I will encapsulate. After all, I now have less time to write and I know my reader doesn't always give a rats ass about every granular aspect of my life...or do you? Ewww....

I work for this guy now...


St. John Baptist de La Salle. Ever heard of him? He's dead, but he still in essence authorizes my direct deposit. At this time last year, I would've likely pissed myself from hard laughter, had someone suggested I would be working with the Lasallian Brotherhood.

What I have come to learn about these guys is actually pretty cool. I think my readers have a fairly good grasp on where I stand regarding organized religion, therefore I will not be launching any soapbox rants, but I will say this - if I met de La Salle in his day, I think we may have had wine and a long talk about just all sorts of stuff. We may have even ogled a few hot sisters together - who knows.

Alright, enough for now. This was a long time in coming.

I'll keep you posted...



Friday, October 1, 2010

I'm Turning Japanese

I really think so.

It is with this song playing in my mind that I begin this post. And not for the obvious reason, that being if I we're actually swapping nationalities, but rather because of who recorded this piece.

Oh, come on, you know you want to play this while you read.

The Vapors.

So Wiki says that "vapor" is defined as a dense gas that can be condensed into a liquid or solid. I guess I kind of think of myself that way on occasion- a dense mass that can be condensed into a numb human or unresponsive being- dead really. The thing is, once the vapor is a solid, it might be damn hard to get back to vapor. Can you get back to vapor?

Yes. If I were ice I suppose.

Mary Tyler Moore

I have worked for the same employer for just shy of 15 years. Those early days of my career found me freshly divorced, a young mother with a new lease on life and a woman with a completely unshaped mind. The newness of this place back then, the energy, made it seem like all of the movies had it right - the workplace is a venue of glamor, prestige, deadlines and just really cool stuff. And sometimes it was.

The intro to the Mary Tyler Moore sitcom offers us young Mary driving down the Interstate, heading for a new life - Mpls., as it were. Once she arrives to the "promised land", she encounters endless unexpected oddities that she deals with using her unique comedic style. Of late, it is Mary who I hear in my head telling me..."just throw your baret into the air...let it fall where it will". Sometimes I tell her to fuck off. Sometimes I tell her thank you, I love you too.

I have gone through union pushes. I have endured numerous administration changes. I have been completely drunk at company holiday parties. Off-site of course...honk. I cannot promise you that I wasn't the one in the plaid mini skirt dirty dancing with one of my girlfriends. All this while partially disrobing on the dance floor in front of "somebody quasi important" in upper-management. If you can imagine me in a) plaid b) mini skirt c) pink plaid mini skirt - good luck getting that out of your head. Oh, those were the days.


But with each of these shenanigans and upheavals has come growth. After sobering up from xmas parties and crawling into various early morning Saturday shifts - eyes crusted over with who knows what - having an unmatched desire to not fall asleep on or puke into the bowl of Halloween candy at my desk, came moments of intense concentration and magical creative development.

The Resumé

In this undisclosed place of employment, I have grown into the completely blissful and mal-adjusted "grownup" you see before you. I have been a Project Manager, Software Trainer, Psychologist, A/V and Wiring Lead, Slut, Hard-Nosed Correspondent, Asshole, Writer, Electronic Materials Specialist, Server Administrator and Builder, Amateur Athlete (boxer, biker, runner, swimmer, pudding wrestler...all true), and always the Go-To-Jill-of-All-Trades. As recently as last week, it was said about me by my Mgr., "I can always count on you...". Would anyone ever actually want to be the poor schmuck that could NEVER be counted on? Ah, not me.


I threw Slut in because it made me laugh to see it the list. I like to laugh. Sluts are funny, ergo... Truth is, I have had a few "less than wholesome" romances at this place, but the fact remains that I never once had sex on the premises.

Maybe there is still time.

Quite frankly, there is less time than there was before. Many of you reading this, have likely also been touched by lay-offs, reductions and other budgetary cuts. I am not alone, but lately...I feel alone.

This manic environment of wondering who will get the call and when, has made me ugly. I can be all Zen-like while I am out living my life, but the moment I walk through the doors of this place, I feel a suction and then a transformation. I want a t-shirt that says "CRASS IS SEXY, PESSIMISM IS UGLY". After 2 years in this egg shell dance hall, I have witnessed and engaged in too much of both. Blech.

The Restoration

This post is, quite frankly, just my way of declaring to myself in writing, that I need to get back to vapor before I become a solid.

No matter if I stay or if I go, I need to remember the wisdom I have gained from this place. This University of Holy Fuck I Need A Vacation has given me a place to park my bike, a place to work when I did not want to stay home and fret about money, a philosopher's gold mine, a warm building when the frigid cold of winter beat me into submission. This EOE has shown me not only impurities in business models and "leaders", but more importantly impurities in me. I have had ample time to work on changing both of these truths within these crazy walls. Have I improved anything? Maybe.

There may be a change coming for me that triggers an unwanted condensation process, or I might escape the vacuum one more time.

Either way, I am sticking with the dense gasses. Those guys know how how to party!


PEACE.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Introducing Project EyotaRoch


EyotaRoch is perfect for commuters who want to ditch their cars and pedal into work from various locations. Start anywhere along the route you like, come from out-of-town or meet up at specified meeting spots.

We have a flyer we're posting at various locations with the hope that we get some feedback - and some riders! Let me know if you'd like a copy of the flyer.

One of the first goals of the group will be to open up riders to new options with regard to commuting on bicycle v. driving their cars. An equally strong push will be to get all of the area children outfitted with biking safety gear - starting with helmets.

Upon moving into a new city recently, I have been hearing from my young son that he has been ridiculed for wearing a helmet. It's time to educate these kids that helmets and protective gear is cool as well as important.

A colleague of mine in a nearby city shared a story about how his daughter was "pulled over" by the city police and awarded a free ice cream voucher for simply wearing a helmet while riding her bike. I would very much love to spearhead this same effort in my new city. To that end, I am encouraging area businesses to adopt similar reward systems.

In contacting area bike shops and other commerce leaders, I aim to create relationships between riders and businesses that foster good exchanges and community outreach.

Any thoughts and suggestions you may have to help with these new initiatives, I am all ears. If you know of an organization or individual that is currently seeing success with commuter groups, I'd like to meet them.

PEACE.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

It just made sense...

A new house. A new chapter. A new start.
Learning to Ride...with people.

For my readers who have been wondering where I have gone, electronically speaking, I will tell you that I have been quite busy behind the scenes of the Learning to Ride set. For as long as I have fallen prey to the bike bug, I have vowed to change my way life in order to, basically, support my habit.

The long-time goal has been to physically move my residence to an area where it would be manageable to commute via bike to virtually everywhere I needed to be on a daily basis. That end point proved to be more difficult than I had envisioned. And I hadn't really thought it would be easy.


In a nutshell, having dogs, kids and a wild aversion to dorm-style living left me with only one option - a mortgage. But here's the rub - where I wanted to live was in the city. And a city is where people are. And where people are, dorm-style living is. A townhouse maybe, I thought. A little known fact about dogs - either you cannot have them in rental property or you pay a lot for them.


Quite by accident, I stumbled onto a property in an area not quite in in the city, but in a location I have commuted from many times before.


Wait- before it begins to look like I am just that selfish to pack up and move only to serve my green fetishes, there are the children in my life to consider. One child in particular has some significant needs that require specialized academic attention. This new school district is known for its achievement in the areas this child needs. This child was enrolled in the school long before I had secured housing.


So here I am. Kids, Dogs and bikes in their new home.
Happy.

PEACE.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Welcome Bianchi Timber Wolf

Another blue bike in the fleet.
Only this time a legit MTB.
Tad vintage, but so am I.


Next up?
Rockhopper Comp.
Gotta start somewhere.
And look- dirty already.

Starting From Scratch

I give up. I quit.

Quit what?

...worrying about some silly little things
that don't add up ta nuthin'
. - Tom Petty


This single sign is my call to all communities, all municipalities, all lonely highways. We have much to learn from Minneapolis and their impressive efforts with infrastructure development and implementation for the metro's bike community.

Stopped for a SURLY beer at Minnehaha Park.


From right here you can watch airplanes take off all day from the Mpsl Int'l Airport.
Kinda cool.

Minnehaha Falls

Mill Ruins

Yesterday, I parked my car in the James I. Rice Memorial Parkway trail head lot at around noon. Continuing south down the West River Parkway, I passed by the very busy Minnehaha Park and on though the Godfrey Parkway. At the end of the falls area, MRT access calls out. Mississippi River Trail (MRT) is amazing and I just found out a whopping 3K miles in its entirety.

Shit.

This new world held me in its spell for somewhere near 6 hours on what seemed to be the most gorgeous weather in recent history.

And that's when I decided to let go.

Of what?

Everything. And it was amazing.

PEACE.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Chasing Thoreau

I just deleted my Facebook account today. Not just a deactivation mind you, but a full-on delete. I feel all liberated.

Felt good.

No. Felt great.

I had been among the first to create an account. We IT geeks try everything new really fast and use it with reckless abandon. We obsess about posting that perfect status, tweak our layouts and invite people to view our stunning bar room shots or myriad cock-eyed baseball cap gangsta poses.

And the worst part? We shamelessly accept "friends" into our fold that we would not even talk to in the hallway at the office.

Admittedly, I did experience what a great tool it could be to reconnect with old friends and also to keep up on events and happenings.

The thing is, I think logging into fb made me feel lost in mindless browsing, and ironically social networking has made more of a social introvert out of me than normal. I felt like a Peeping Tom with a keyboard down my pants.

So today, I stick to emails and other vehicles for communicating with peeps. Maybe I will even try my hand at writing a letter with an actual pen. I feel for those of you getting one, as I have lost most of my manual dexterity required for legible penmanship. I have this vision that humans will evolve with styluses rather than fingers eventually and have a spell check function embedded at the tips of these futuristic phalanges.

And I just heard that Willie Nelson cut off his braids. Shit, I could have joined a fb group entitled something like "Save Willie Nelson's Braids". Well, I guess I will manage.

PEACE.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Pedalgrl - The Mission


The perceived monetary success of a nation is generally gauged by the Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Basically it translates to how much shit we can manufacture, grow or conceive of - then flip it via export to another country that also has a GDP reliant on shipping their shit to us.

The other night I dreamed that I was the keynote speaker at a human rights convention. At this gathering were the brightest minds and grandest thinkers with vast experiences and journeys behind them. It's worth noting that these same attendees had an even larger expanse of life ahead of them and were willing to dedicate it to change.

The shared objective at this event was to brainstorm. Brainstorm what? Employing collaborative problem solving techniques to shift away from GDP in a way that could forge a new path for how we (at least in this country) viewed commerce, trade relations and economics.

So I am giving a speech in this dream and Eartha Kitt, rest in peace, spotted me from across the audience and in a brief pause tilted her head toward me, rasped me one of her trademark sexy growls and winked - I can't remember with which eye. Then the crowd roared with hoots and applause.


When I woke up, I tried to piece together what the hell I must have been saying that prompted the "Kitt growl". And did we as a group come to some consensus? Did we solidify and propel our glacial aspirations for change into action?

Maybe.

I have been shaking the cobwebs around in my head ever since this dream. Here is what I came up with...

The Exclamation Mark

Right now as you read, grab a writing implement. Pen, pencil, marker, quill, paint brush - whatever - and begin to draw an exclamation mark. Yeah - really. But more than that, before you begin the down stroke of the top portion of the mark, think about WHY you use that piece of punctuation at all.

MAD. HAPPY. IRATE. ENERGIZED. TIRED. IMPRESSED. STOKED. INSPIRED.

With this in mind, draw this exclamation mark top piece. Then stop BEFORE the dot.


That's where I am.

If you were to now finish that exclamation mark, think of how you typically stamp that dot. For me, it's with finality and determination. Usually it's with some force even.

Look, I am nearing the 40th year of life in this crazy world and the despair I see creeping up around me is...well...horrific to be frank. Now wait- I am far from a staunch fatalist. I am not even a glass half empty kind of person, but it seems to me that all the goodness and cotton candy fluff we can muster is getting covered with an oil glaze - literally and figuratively.

I need a national news vacation I think. Am I the only one who feels the world is in a blender? Sure- it's on PULSE right now, but how long til LIQUIFY?

I searched my DVD collection last night to find the movie WALL-E. My Eartha Kitt dream somewhere inserted a WALL-E and AVATAR reference into my memory banks. For those of you who have not viewed either - three words: Gross Domestic Product. These two films are impact films that encapsulate an abstract snapshot of our world today. Our world tomorrow.

My young son and I sat down to watch WALL-E and he asked me if that really happened? I told him, in my opinion, it is happening right now, but real life doesn't provide the same visual effects as Disney's offering. I wonder what the Gulf of Mexico fiasco would look like in an animated film. Hmm...

If you've patiently read through this angst-filled post, you may have felt some of these same things and just gnashed your teeth looking for solutions. I am damn sick of gnashing my teeth and being part of the problem without dotting that exclamation mark.

How can you or I make a difference? I have some thoughts.

Now- how about you? Do you listen to or read the news and want to hide or do you see opportunity?

What's your vision?


What I want

A life-long biking partner. Children who can learn and grow and help without hurting. A career that doesn't require a car, but rather requires a bike. Cherished friends and family who can teach me what I do not know. Sweat. Laughter. And maybe a bit of cotton candy now and then.

PEACE.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Will you still need me, will you still feed me, when I'm sixty-four?


As for my ankle, it was a champ. I never even fretted about my ankle for a second.

And both of my boys were in the race/ride for 1.5 hrs. I was so proud of them for tackling it. They both had a lot of fun. Tanner said he would like to make it to the check off next year. That is huge!

The rest of me wasn’t as resilient as the ankle however. I made it to the 64.2 mile “½ way” check point a happy 10 minutes before the closing mark.

I had struggled that last 20 miles with severe mental lag.

Then, I took a wrong turn that landed me approximately 4 miles off course and that pretty much clenched it closed emotionally for me.

I met a few people late in the last few miles that made me feel like if we stuck together I would try the remaining 40. They ultimately blew me away and again I was deflated. That’s how it works out there – spirits up/down/up/down.



I was thrilled to have made it to the check point and conquered some of the post injury doubts.

The thing is- I truly hadn’t intended to actually TRY to complete the 100 mile course up until Friday when Tanner said he would ride along with Chais so I wouldn’t have to stop. That opened up the opportunity for me to give it a shot. AND of course I hadn’t had the training miles in...so...yep...64+ miles rocked!

Today with people asking about it, I am reminded that I always kick myself later for not pushing harder. I am bad like that. I always have to push until I break, it’s just that my breaking point came a little earlier this year!

Last year I finished #64. So that was my race bib number this year. And I ended at 64 miles. My dad turned 64 this year - he also graduated in 1964.



And today? May 17th? My very own amazing mother turns 60. I love you mom. You rock.

So what’s so bad about 60-something? Not a thing.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Blush Blush


Click on the image that is shown above to download. The Almanzo piece is on pages 63-64.

It's almost here again. The event that last year thrust me into the bicycle community with gusto. This year I ride alongside my son.

Together with some 400 other cyclists, we aim to do some serious crushed rock adventuring. I'll keep you abreast of my thoughts and emotions as I fly through this week and begin the pedal party this Saturday
in Spring Valley.

PEACE.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Mabel 5K Run/Walk

1st Annual
Town & Country Fun Run
5K Run • Walk
Mabel, Minnesota


For More information:
schomibrowntrout@yahoo.com

Monday, March 29, 2010

On Moths in Ears

In my 39 years of life, I have never experienced a moth dive-bombing into my ear canal...until tonight.

My ear started crackling. You know like when you get out of the pool and you have to drain that water-logged ear. Only this was an insidious crackle and movement that seemed to ebb ever closer to my brain.

I dropped to floor and tried to get this thing out of my head. I grabbed the tweezers and groped for anything. Finally, I pulled part of it out. The rest of this WHATEVER kept violently squirming around in my ear.

Ok, is this ridiculous for you to read? Hard for you to read? Hell yes - imagine MY experience! I am still just no-shit weirded out by the whole event.

I screamed while my teens hollered downstairs, telling me to basically chill out and my youngest cried, horrified.

Finally, I grabbed the peroxide, then tweezers again and pulled out a moth. Alive. Did I mention I am still emo over this? GAWD.

There is not much soothing by way of Zen meditation and breathing when a creature has taken up residency in your ear, let me just say that much.

ANYWAY...

It's been awhile since I last posted and some of my readers (a.k.a friends and family) have asked what tales I have in the pipeline. As if the above account wasn't thrilling enough.

No doubt, there will be some bike riding to come, some dog chases and even a crash or two. But that will unfold as it will.

For today, I am a mom with a sick child.

Not cancer that I know of.

Not the flu or bronchial pneumonia.

It's another malady that ravages his brain, spins his impulses into shards of glassy data and unravels him into a child I sometimes do not know. A child he doesn't know.

He is 8 now and has exhibited signs of his struggle since infancy. And at 18 he will reach adulthood with a journey behind him that many do not travel. What's more, he will likely see a path ahead of him that offers many forks, bends and potholes.

Doesn't sound unlike yourself, does it?

To look at him, he resembles many other 8 year old boys, ready to get dirty and turn anything into a makeshift gun. Loved his penis so much for a few years that I thought of taping his hands to his shoulders. So pretty typical in many ways.

It is what most do NOT see that makes him unique from the others of his kind. Those who also like fart noises and monster trucks do not all share his tormented inner person.

And for that reason, Learning To Ride may house less biking adventure for awhile, as my child and I attend to clearing the moths from our ears and remain vigilant in an attempt to keep more of them from getting in.

PEACE.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

So what's next?

Yes, it's true, I am cast-free. Walking boot-free. Though not entirely carefree. There is an obscene sense of "safety" in an injury and the aftermath. People go out of their way to help you - even when you really don't want the help. You need it - you don't WANT it. Having to carefully plan out every move when on crutches and not treading anywhere that might land you back in ER is oddly a comfort. It's like forced downtime. And I have a hard time sitting down as it is.

The exhausting rewiring of rituals to work within an adaptive environment. The slow and methodical journeys to the bathroom, the kitchen. The engineering of new processes to get the dirty clothes off the floor, into a basket and into the washing machine. My son devised kind of a pulley system that allowed me to let the pup in/out of the house. I adapted a procedure for getting in/out of the bathtub. I will spare you with the intricacies of managing my career and relying on others to transport me everywhere. I will say that working in IT has its benefits and notable drawbacks when you can't move fast.

This blog entry is a brief update and a thank you to each of you that helped me heal. It's been an interesting ride. I have logged in some time on the bike trainer now. Just yesterday I put my cleats on for the first time since December. Status report = ankle tender, but improving.

PEACE.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

ACT IV - This Boot is Made for Walkin'

So that's just what I'll do.

With less that a week to go, I feel what many expectant mothers feel toward the end of a nearly year-long gestational period - LET'S DO THIS! But also, if memory serves, there is that scratch at the back of your throat that reminds you that this was the "restful" time and that what lies ahead is work. When you feel that first stab of a labor pain, the instinct is to proclaim...no, no, no make it stop - I am not ready!

I have had several dreams now that suggest I will be left with a rubber chicken ankle. The storyline is that I will be engaged in walking, standing or biking and my foot/ankle will spontaneously give way to a spiral motion, leaving my lower right leg dangling like a breeze-whipped wind chime.

Right. So I am reminded of the dreams I had about these newborns while pregnant. Similar. I would forget the infant in various places. I would let the infant drain down the bath tub. I would deliver the child all alone by a field fence and use my shoe lace to cut the cord. Because, of course, I walked so many remote fence lines during my pregnancy. Bizarre.

Yesterday, I went to Holmen, Wisconsin and discovered yet another bike shop. River Trail Cycles, owned by Emily Vance. She has a great shop. It offers a lot of merchandise to ponder. The website shows virtually nothing about the inner sanctum, but here is a link if you want to visit. River Trail Cycles

Long story short, my pal Mattie spotted a LeMond Reno (Circa 06-07) in the used nook. Cute lil road bike with a carbon fork and platform pedals - made just for a Jedi Storm Trooper walking boot. Emily threw the Reno on a trainer. I hoisted my utterly uncoordinated self + aforementioned Jedi Storm Trooper walking boot upon this black and red steed and then it happened...

The cycling high. It came over me in a flash before I even made a single revolution.

I began to pedal. I worked out the rear derailleur a little, sat back, looked at Mattie and felt that old familiar need to bust outa somewhere in a quick hurry. Shit.



OK, so I what I learned was that even though my ankle broke, my drive did not.

Was there ever any doubt?

You'd be surprised what an injury does to the mind of a person like me. Suffice it to say, I almost cried at that Wisconsin bike shop.

So maybe that means my blog fans will have more to read...stay tuned.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

ACT III

Upper body workouts, Calc with VitD and channeling the universe.

OK, got it.


Things to focus on. I will keep you abreast or maybe afoot of how things progress. The crutching around proves to be a strenuous workout if I go more than a few hobbles away. So there's one plus, if you want to call it that.

My armpits, neck, shoulders and, oddly enough, palms of my hands have gone from irritated by the new pressure points to numb and now elevated to sore and not yet tough as cowhide - though I expect to have really buff armpits by race day in May. Almanzo - don't think I am out of this just yet.

Yesterday cast #3 was set. Bright orange and optimistic. Upon removal of the blue beast, I had my son snap a shot of my foot. I wanted to see what I'd been missing for the past few weeks. Hell no - it is not pretty.


Upshot? Doc says I am healing and the awesome casting tech and I get along great. This is a plus I figure.



PEACE.

Monday, January 4, 2010

It's no lie - just a lil fib


My biker strength is rapidly converting to fat at a quicker pace than most winters. Honestly, I am less than good spirited these days. My blogs filled with adventurous banter now threaten to become more like a ranting monologue delivered by SNL's very own PAT. Whining about lack of mobility and belly roll issues and huge junk-filled trunk complaints.

During the cold months, I shred up every option I can to stay somewhat fit. Running stairs, biking, hiking, swimming anywhere I can, slower winter jogs, cross country skiing and of course sledding.

About 2 weeks ago, an orange toboggan and I careened into an icy sled/snow board jump. My right foot lodged in the jump, while the rest of my body did a less than elegant corkscrew-like move. Blades of Glory-esque. "You smell like urine..." "A lot?"

My mom told me to write about it. I confessed I wasn't feelin it.

But she was right.

I am trying to make some sense of how one can still stay fit and not go insane. Doing bicycle exercises while lying flat in bed are making me even more pissed off. I cannot drive. I cannot bear weight on the ankle in question and most frustrating of all...I have to ask for help. I never ask for help. I hate asking for help. I like to help.

Do you - my readers - have anything for me? I am listening. I have maybe 5 more weeks of trying to keep moving while not really moving at all.

Yeah- that was me asking for help.

PEACE.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

All I Want For XMAS

With the hubbub as it is this time of year, I am not alone in experiencing the pressure to produce a list of coveted merchandise, so that my parents and sister can spend their hard-earned money on gifts for me.

I have multi-faceted problems with the holidays. From the commercialization of an ancient tradition to the obscene extension of that tradition that is manifest in the need to lavish people with department store gifts. Do I give gifts? Yes. Do I love to see the smile on someone's face when they receive some item that will bring them prolonged joy? Hell yes.

Does this HAVE to happen in December? Only in December? Hell no.

My family is well-versed in the secular view I hold of the holiday season and therefore understands that the likelihood that their gifts will be hand-made, utilitarian, educational or pushing my unapologetically environmentally-friendly agenda is somewhere near 100%.

So I have compiled a list of what I would like by way of gifts. If you'd like to give me any of these things, I'd be grateful and humbled beyond words.

Connie's Holiday Wish List:

  1. I want to no longer have medical bills go into collections (yours, or mine)
  2. I want my male neighbor to have a healthy heart
  3. I want my female neighbor to stop smoking and be able to land that dream job
  4. I want Obama to read this list and tell me where I need to apply for a "green" job - my resume is ready - I am ready
  5. I want a winter bike with meaty tires that will eliminate the need for ideal road conditions to connect me to my many daily obligations
  6. I want to have a national holiday for people who are just tired
  7. I want to be swept off my feet by a real person that doesn't know a gay joke
  8. No more cell phones in cars - mine included
  9. I want to bake cookies for every shut in and deliver them by bike
  10. I want to stop - just stop
  11. I want to be swept off my feet by a real person that doesn't know a racially tinged joke
  12. I want my sister's happiness to keep growing
  13. I want my grandfather to be free of pain and nosebleeds
  14. I want my grandmother to dance with her husband again
  15. I want my parents to see that I love them and know that I would give them a truckload of money if I only knew where to find one
  16. I want my friends to know that I am the person who wants a cleaner world for them, so if that means having the tree hugger stereotype, I can deal with that
  17. I want WAR to be a card game, not a legacy
  18. I want my kids to see that I am working hard so that they have what they need - and some of what they want
  19. I want the people who tailgate other vehicles on icy roads to see that the 'tailgatees' tires are bald and they have a zero balance in their bank account and they are doing the best they can
  20. I want the people that I love and care for to succeed and grow and breathe and smile
  21. To Angie & Margo & Brophy & Phatty - I'd go into business with each of you any day
I could on, but you get the picture.

PEACE.

Learning To Rest

My fellow bicycle pal, Chris Skogen (Chris, I think I can call you pal, right?) has posted on his blog that he is tired and is taking a little break from his blogging and enjoy a deep breath. A break for us, typically means a day or two. I've asked that he please ask me along from time to time when he needs to get out and go for a ride. Not that I always can- but I will make it happen if possible.

This blog of mine has been in many ways the salve that heals all wounds that come my way. In other facets, it feels like if I don't post something magnanimous on a regular schedule, my readers will think I am ill or without internet access.

The truth is Chris Skogen - I'm tired too fella.

People ask me almost daily anymore about my riding adventures. It's like that is what is expected of me now. "Oh, she rides - that is WHO she is" almost thought so loud that I can hear it right behind their lips.

The enchanting part about that is - it constantly re-ignites my daydreams about the miles I've rolled through and the miles I'd like to. The less obvious thing about having "an identity" is that, even though it IS a huge and important part of who I've become, it is not WHO I am.

So my dear readers, colleagues and friends - please keep asking about my biking. Please keep inquiring as to where I've rolled each day, but I hope you also understand that the winter months alter my routes, my routines, my body and my mind. There will be a day or 12 that I do not ride.

There's a great Stevie Nicks line (in the song Dreams) that I have always loved..."the players only love you when they're playing"...that could mean a lot of things, but it reminds me that I can't be all things all the time. And I'm okay with that.

I know...I know...true story.

One quick note: I have a posting in the works about a recent visit with a local man who has his shit together - and yours as well. Check back to read about Jon Nordsving and his crappy career at the Canton Waste Water Treatment Facility.


PEACE.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Friday, November 13, 2009

So what the hell is an Urban Micro "CX"?


It occurred to me that you, my appreciated readers, may have viewed my last post and thought - "oh, wow...bikes on grass...lame..." and quickly jumped back to your favorite social networking hub to chat with your galley of friends.

So if you're back for a small tale, thank you and enjoy!

Having a dear friend that just so happens to be married to a bike event organizer, growing strong ties with a group of bike enthusiasts from far and wide and finally enjoying an open Sunday (sans work and other obligations) leads one to seek out just a little something...well...different.


A few weeks ago - maybe more by now - I received an event bill that proclaimed "URBAN MICRO CX". This quasi invite stated a location, date and time, pulled together by a noisy image of a bike leaning against a tree. What the mini poster did NOT detail was WHAT it was.

And me being who I am. I immediately agreed to attend this mystery event. I had loosely known that a CX (or cross) race was just that - a multi-terrain race/event. But the whole idea behind any race is not divulging the specifics until race day.

I asked my young son if he'd like to enter with me. He immediately agreed and we were both stoked for the adventure to come.


We arrived at Cooke Park in Rochester a bit before race time. We took a spin a round the course a few times with Chris Skogen & Bob Gritman, waiting for the other participants to show.


We started on a grassy flat that immediately linked to a small slab of bike trail that took us under a railroad overpass. With a quick right turn, we climbed a grassy incline to reach a cement slab that jutted out in various areas from years of weather wear. Onto some inchworm-like dirt jumps, then some gravel/glass sprinkled cement that led us to a gnarly hobo hop. That's what I would call it anyway. Here, you dismount your bike, carry or bounce it down an embankment of rocks/cement/wire/trees/litter/mud/medical waste - who knows...and quick as hell too.


Then the moment you get into the baby ravine, you push that bike up a dirt path until you are looking sideways at a few sets of railroad tracks and big multi-colored rocks. Here, depending on your bike, you might ride/jump/push or carry said bike across the tracks until you get to a tiny strip of gravel that leads you to a tiny strip of grass that leads you to a partial bike trail elbow. A right turn on this elbow pointed us east and into a head wind, then another right onto a grassy/slightly bumpy flat.

Here is where you punched it hard, only to hit the tree line, a fast and hard down hill and left turn into the woodland. More wire, rock, zig zags, grass and dirt and branches that turned to loose dirt and shredded wood. There were two places that logs/fallen trees made the rider dismount and carry the bike over and quickly hop back on to get up to battering ram speed again. And you were back at the starting point, ready for another lap.


And that was it - 1 hour. As many laps as you could muster.

Chais and I enjoyed our day immensely and plan to do it again on the 28th of Nov. I still have bruises and they make me smile every time I see them, as it was something different for me and I made it the entire hour. There were 20 racers, and if memory serves I finished somewhere in the top third. Chais rallied with 4 laps and cheered me on from the side. At one point a rogue wire wrapped around my rear wheel - spokes and chain and rings - oh my! I unraveled it, tossed it off to the side and kept going.


As a postscript - I may have finished in the top third, but keep in mind the victor outpaced me by somewhere near 10 laps - so I am not ready to go pro just yet.

No matter what, it was a blast!

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Urban Micro CX - oh yeah!

Here are some pix of the post event chit chat. Chais and I had a blast.


More to follow...

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Ride What?


This blog started as a means to track my ascent into the throws of bicycling as a means of transportation, recreation and therapy. It has become my way of life now.

Since February of 2009 (when I bought my very first bike - true story), here are a few of the things I have done, seen & learned...


I have been in one race. The Almanzo 100. It was a personal triumph to ride and finish, though I have no deep aspiration to be a"racer". I compete against myself. I have commuted a 36/40 mile circuit daily for nearly 2 months during the long warm days of summer. I have traveled by foot and by pedal here, there and everywhere in between. I have worked a 9+ hour day, then rode 55 miles home, running out of daylight 6 miles from my front door. I have learned about bike building and restoration. I have sold a lot of bikes at Decorah Bicycles (Decorah, IA) and a fair amount at Bicycle Sports (Rochester, MN). Coincidentally, I commute to that Decorah job mostly on bike when time allows - it is a 52 mile round trip from my porch to the shop door and back to my porch again. I have met incredible people. I have met some not-so-incredible people. I have studied Marx, Durkheim, Weber, Ecosystems, Erosion, Landfill and myriad other topics in the return to college life.


The maybe overlooked facet of falling in love with "the ride" is that I have included as many people that will come with me in my adventures. I have ridden in the winter/summer/fall/spring, pedaled with groups, with my young son, with children, with adults, with strangers, with friends and all of the other subcultures I fail to remember.


What is happening now, is the annual re-acclimation into cold weather riding. The socks, the warm gear, the search for some affordable LAKE winter riding boots, the need for suitable rain gear, the prompting for the weatherization of the bike (chain, tires, etc.) and the mental pep fest that prepares the mind to play nice with the body as it adds a few pounds and slows down a little with the winter winds.



To date, I ride to and from school and as often as the 24 hour clock will allow. I am already getting cagey and need some serious sweat and a long day of listening to my gears click and ping. In the past 8 months, I have logged in somewhere near 2,500 miles of pedal power. This would be a small amount to some. To me - it's just right. If I didn't need the car, I would give it away - that is where I am in the bike nerd process.

Next up - Judy, Judy, Judy.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Hop on the GreenFete


Link updates, more to follow. In the process of reconnecting with my link contacts on greenfete and writing some progress reports to see what each one has been up two in the recent months.

Then pretty up the blog and away we go for a winter learning adventure.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Life Springs Eternal - PART II

A gentle breeze, from Hushabye Mountain...Chitty chitty Bang Bang



Dick Van Dyke sings Jeremy & Jemimah to sleep after they offer him their "riches" to help with the family's money struggles. Sweet & pure of heart.

I was en-route to an early morning walk through the wet woods. Amherst, Minnesota's own version of Hushabye Mountain. Mid-trek, I veered into my parents' quiet driveway. I parked the car as dad came out of the newly renovated chicken coop, the building that now plays host to all things wood-working and green-thumbing. When I was a teenager, that coop held piglets that my sister and I fell in love with.

I quickly blurted out that I was heading toward Simley Springs and wondered if he could tell me where to find the spring head. After about 5 minutes of his insane scribbles on a scrap manila envelope, I said..."you wanna come with?" He looked at me a little sideways.


He hesitated.

He was probably pondering when he was going to have time to shoe horn in all of the various projects that keeps him busy in his recently acquired retirement lifestyle. Maybe a trip into the valley was just not on his Saturday morning itinerary. So I just stared him down, waiting for him to say no, kind of backing up expecting to say goodbye and cruise back out the driveway. I was on a mission with or without him, and was not interested in dickering about directions. Turns out, neither was he.


After about a 15 second delay, he said…"let's take the truck".

So down the gravel we sailed, talking about the collection of data I had researched online about Lawrence Simley and I briefed him on the hike I had taken through the woods the day before.

As we approached the minimum maintenance road, he pointed out where my great grandmother's brother, Clint Vickerman had lived and where MN State Representative Moppy Anderson had a cabin for many years.



Dad pulled the truck into a cleared grassy path and shut down the motor. We got out and started to walk. Not long into the stroll, he stopped and said..."let's listen here...yep...hear that?...I think we're close...." Even after many years away, he led me right to the spring head. All this time and I never knew it was there.

I jumped from moss covered rock to log to rock to hillside until I had scaled the spring and could look down to see the mouth of the creek gobbling up the cold clear water. It was so gorgeous there. Dad thought I was nuts. Ahh...it's good for him. I am nuts. We noticed rock structures to the West that he had never noticed before. I made him agree to hike up to them the next time we got a chance.


We drove on through the valley, stopping at the Simley homestead and talked about myriad former inhabitants of the valley. Shit, he grew up all over these woods. And I am just desperately trying to get back there, while the city pulls me closer to meet the financial needs of the "civilized world".




Dad as he spotted the spring head - only AFTER he heard it.


Chais as he spotted the spring head - only AFTER I stopped him in the same place dad stopped me earlier that day.


This place is amazing. I can't do it justice with words tonight, but rather leave you with some images. Keep in mind my blog photos are all taken with a cell cam, as I need to be able to crawl around. A big hog camera just isn't my style anyway. That said, I feel I need to add the disclaimer that these random quality images pale in comparison to the up close and personal landscape.
This is largely state land unless otherwise marked. You, the reader can check this out for yourself. It's easy to navigate and a pleasure to behold.




At the end of our hike and tour, I was lost in thought as I always am when I go on an adventure. I left for work, sold some bikes and came back to the spring head that evening with my young son. I have a hard time not going once a day, just for clarity.