Sunday, August 30, 2015

hornets



it's that time of year
hornets
six legged terrorists
no, they are not permitted to build a nest on our porch

Saturday, August 29, 2015

companion



People comment that I do a lot of things. True enough. One person said she doesn't have a passion for anything, comparing herself to me. I told her I haven't always had that passion for the things I  do. It's really only been in the last 10 or so years. George says I'm making up for lost time. True enough.

But here's what I don't say, at least not often.
Death is my constant companion, and not in a morbid way. She walks along with me, urging me to try the things that call out to me, reminding me that my days are limited, so use them wisely and passionately. And so I do. She is my friend. When the time comes, she will wrap her arms around me and carry me over to whatever comes next. She doesn't tell me what that might be, reminding me that I should focus on THIS day. And so I do. I'm grateful for this wonderful companion that keeps me focused on the Now.

Yes, we are friends, are we not? I want you to taste all that life has to offer. I want you to live fully, passionately, completely, with love, with humor, with strength. When it is your time to die, I want to carry your spirit, full of joyful experiences and memories, into the next phase of life. Your joyful, exuberant spirit, having embraced love, joy, pain, sorrow, and strength, will be a magnificent building block to our ongoing expanding universe, and I will be honored in serving you. 

Thursday, August 27, 2015

weirdness



weird
we’re all weird
all families are weird
we’re all born with a basically empty toolbox
and, as we trundle through life
we find or build the tools we need
to continue trundling

and those who don’t
or are born into exquisitely beautiful Hallmark families
are basically boring

life can be grand
if you’re willing to give it a try
and, if not grand,
at least interesting…

Sunday, August 23, 2015

life is but a dream



I climbed a ladder to the roof, even though it was a bit dangerous. The ladder wasn't too stable, it tipped, and I began to fall. But I twisted a bit and when I hit the ground went into a forward roll. That was pretty cool! So I climbed again and practiced that move so that a tipping ladder would never again be a dangerous thing.

After that a large animal came toward me. That, too, was dangerous. But I stood my ground, faced it, growled at it, and it turned and walked away. Yes!!

And then. A knock at the door. I open the door and see a salesman. All he wants is money, no matter what he's selling; I know how that works. But I played along; chatting a bit, letting him think we'd made a connection and that he had my attention. Finally he made his pitch. Nope. Not interested. He was surprised and annoyed, whining that most people would have been suckered in. I told him I was the most hard headed badass old broad he'd ever encounter.

I love my dreams.
I love my life.

Saturday, August 22, 2015

surprise ending


Finally a ladies' day ride! We rode through the old neighborhood and stopped for lunch at Panera. We could have talked all day, sharing stories and histories, but late day commitments limited us to two hours over hazelnut coffee. We were almost home again when she fell. It was her first fall from her bike, and I'm glad I was there when it happened. We'd both have been happier if it didn't happen at all, but you know, it's probably not reasonable to think you'll never fall off a bike.

She was reasonably ok, her bike is ok, but the cut on her knee needed more attention than we could give it. So we got back home, cleaned her up, and got her to urgent care, where they were able to do what they do so well. No stitches, no real damage, just the beginning of a scar that I told her to wear with pride! She was able to drive home.

I guess that's the thing. You don't get to "not fall" through life, eh. I'll just leave it at that. 

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

brewing beer



Brewing beer is certainly an interesting adventure. I've called the shop twice, now, asking for clarification, which they gladly provided.

I'm brewing pale ale. It does not go together the same way American light does, and I guess I assumed it would.

The lid wouldn't settle firmly on the primary fermenter, so George had to wield a mallet (the fermenter is plastic). I insetted the air lock, and the directions said I'd see bubbles in 24 hours, evidence that the beer was fermenting. After two days and no bubbles I called the shop. Jim said that sometimes happens, don't worry, just check the spg  (specific gravity) and let that be the evidence.  And, the spg showed evidence that fermentation is occurring. Also, after opening the lid, which was a chore since it was hammered down, I saw lots of foaming action.

Concerned about the poor fit of the fermenter and its lid, we thought maybe to pour the wort into the other fermenter, the one with the spigot at the bottom. It seemed like a good idea, but what if the wort shouldn't be poured? So I called the shop a second time, and was told no, don't do it. That mixes a lot of air into the wort, and that increases the chance of bacterial contamination. Also, bacteria can hide out in the join at the spigot. So no. Just deal with the mallet and the lid. That makes sense. I've learned to be very careful and sanitize anything touching the wort during the fermentation process.

And now I wait and watch. Struggle with the lid, sanitize the tools, and check the spg daily. In a few days, presumably, I'll siphon the wort into the carboy for further fermentation and clarification. Also, the carboy is esthetically pleasing.

Finally, I still don't know the difference between a lager and ale.  Information says a lager is like a white wine, ale is like a fuller bodied red wine. So I wonder how many different beers I"m going to have to brew before I can actually speak the language with intelligence. Right now the only thing I'm good at is following directions.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

in the blink of an eye



It's not always easy going through life with one foot in the temporal, the other foot in the eternal, and keeping  balance.

I listened to an interview regarding global warming, the sixth extinction, and our possible species demise in maybe 300 years.

Holy crap.

And I am part of the problem. So are you. At first, we probably didn't know, but now we do. And no matter how "green" we become, it's not going to be enough. The tipping point has already occurred.  For me, at my age, I probably won't have to deal with what's to come, but I'm sure my grandchildren will. Maybe even my sons, in their elder years.

It's a sobering realization, to say the least. But we're just one of innumerable species, many of which are already extinct.

When I was much younger, I wanted to live forever. After that, I was glad I would have "eternal life" in "heaven." Well, that is now relegated to the myth bin. Now I see we're much like mayflies, blinking in and out of existence without the universe even noticing. Probably.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

I'll drink to that!



It's the end of a fermentable day....
Still stirring a gallon of cantaloupe wine bubbling away on the kitchen table,
and just started a five gallon brew of pale ale.

And oh yes, I'm sipping rhubarb wine as I write this. Surprisingly good stuff!

Saturday, August 15, 2015

sometimes life sucks, sort of




It just isn't fair. Not that life is ever fair, whatever that means.

But this: my friend may have some difficulties with oral cancer sometime down the road. Before that becomes a serious issue, studies are showing that black raspberries are an effective deterrent, and the person heading up those studies is right here at Ohio State. And how will black raspberries be administered? Get this: by sucking a special lollipop.

Comparison: when I get cancer, I have to show lady parts. When my friend gets cancer, she gets to suck on a lollipop!

And in the midst of the unfairness of cancer in the first place, we find reason to laugh.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

gonna crow a bit




I'm still feeling the glow from our last bike ride.
South on the Alum Creek Greenway trail.
Over the new bike bridge across County Line Road.
Through uptown Westerville.
zig zag down to Alum Creek, where it feels 10 degrees cooler immediately.
And then we just ride. There's a bit of a downhill grade, so I'm thinking the return will be a bit more work and more tiresome. Oh well.
Cross Rt. 3
And then we again just ride.
Cross the new bridge on the south end of the soccer fields, and now I'm in virgin territory.
Delightfully unexpected...a looooong boardwalk (boardride?).
You'd never think we were in the middle of the city, but I know the area from my childhood. It's not terribly safe because it's so remote. At one point there were signs signifying surveillance cameras.
But we rode on. No interruptions.
Finally we come to a trailhead which is also the end of this segment of the ride.
We turn around and return.
Did I say it would be a bit of an uphill grade? I believe I did. But it turns out that with my 21 speeds and strong legs, it made no difference. I was still able to power pedal enough to get some good coasting in.
The only difficulty I had was when George decided to do a back street shortcut through the old neighborhood. I was a bit tired, thus wobbly on narrow bumpy sidewalks. Solution? Just ride in the damned street, for pete's sake!
And now, finally we're almost home. Since the trail takes us past the bike store, I tell George I'm going to stop in and have them adjust one of my gears. Turns out he has to stop in, too. Right at that moment he discovers a flat tire. So he walks his bike to the store and in the front door, I ride my bike to the back door, and our bikes meet in the store.
Funniest thing: George hadn't been able to find his helmet mirror this ride. When the mechanic had his bike up on the post, he found it hanging from a bumper support on the back wheel. That mirror made the whole trip without either falling off or jamming up the gears. Amazing. And amusing.
27.5 miles, and I wasn't exhausted. Tired, sure, but truly loving my strong legs and heart. 

Sunday, August 09, 2015

doing it my way



I really DID have it my way!

It was my birthday. I'm now 72. The only person who landed on that bit of information was me...and George. He's a calendar kind of guy, and frankly, if he hadn't remembered at least a little bit, I might have wondered.

But nobody else, and that was perfect! Nobody on Facebook got a notification because at some point I figured out how to shut down that notification. It is so annoying and pointless to get a lot of "happy birthday" posts cluttering up my wall.

Well, ok, one of my sons called, even though he knows I don't give a shit about birthday calls. But he's recently married and I suspect is under the influence of a wife a bit more traditional that I am.

Not that I have a problem with my age. I don't. I'm damned proud to be who I am and the way I am.

So there you have it. I don't let the clock tell me when to eat. I don't let the calendar tell me when to celebrate. I got to muse on the concept of "birthday" without having to be traditional and civilized. 

Tuesday, August 04, 2015

all this in one day



Emotions have been whipped around today.

An opportunity for deep forgiveness (which won't be explained; just know that it is good)

A message from a student not seen for 30 years. He contacted me because he was thinking about Ellen, my close friend and co-worker, a teacher across the hall. She died much too early. Her official cause of death was aortic failure (marfan's syndrome), but because I knew what I knew, just a couple of weeks earlier her heart had been broken by another. The student didn't know the back story, of course, but reminding me of Ellen's death shot me back to a painful time.

And then this student shared his life with me. And it is awesome.

Deep pain and joyful delight all within a few minutes, and from the same source. Wow.

In the meantime, I corked five bottles of peach wine, started another batch for ten bottles, and cleaned up a year's supply of garlic from our garden.

Oh yes. The squirrel. George has a squirrel baffle on the upright that holds a bird feeder. It works. Today it worked again. That silly squirrel tried to climb the pole within the baffle and, of course, got stuck. We could hear it scolding and scolding and scolding. It must have been furious. It didn't want to turn around and come back down. Oh no! So we went out and whacked the baffle, hoping to scare that damned squirrel. It worked. You should have seen it run when it finally emerged.

What a day.
I'm pooped.
Bed seems like a good idea.

Sunday, August 02, 2015

endurance



It was the perfect summer day: warm (not hot), low humidity, lovely blue sky polka dotted with fluffy white clouds. We rode through the rolling hills of Amish country, passing (and sometimes waiting for) buggies. Our destination was a couple of wineries and lunch at a favorite spot. The wine was good, lunch was tasty...

We invited a couple to go with us; he sat up front with George, she sat in back with me.
And she talked
and obsessed
and went into excruciating detail about all things that passed through her mind at the moment
and there were many moments
six hours of moments
not one moment of silence
I wanted to tear my ears off my head
and squirt superglue in the remaining holes.

Yet she is a friend, though not too often. She didn't choose to have a brain wired the way it is, anymore than I chose my own brain wiring.  I'm glad I was able to endure.

And I went to bed very early.

Monday, July 27, 2015

oh deer


It's complicated. Ok?

We've had a deer problem regarding our garden this year. It's always a problem, but we've been able to salvage a fair amount of the tomatoes and peppers, even if the deer take a few. We've tried a variety of repellants over the years, and, except for the commercially available, they've all worked, some more, some less. Human hair has been the best.

This year? Nothing works. Sigh.

Then one day I saw a doe with three (THREE!!!) fawns. No wonder. She's trying to feed three babies, and is apparently willing to endure any repellants we throw her way.

Then, one day, I watched the doe walk up to our bird feeder just outside our kitchen window, and munch some bird seed. She was beautiful - golden brown on top, pristine white underbelly. Graceful. To us, she and her kin are pests. To her, we and our kin are pests. The deer were here before we were.  Like I said, it's complicated. I'm not a Bambi lover, but I do enjoy and appreciate wildlife.

I also appreciate tomatoes and peppers. Next year we'll have a fence for our garden. A very tall fence.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

another day, another ride



We changed our plans just so we could take this ride with our grandson. It's the first time he wanted to ride with us, and we were delighted. He even knew which trail he wanted, and that's what he got.

We drove to his house, my plan was to plug in the directions to the trailhead from his house once we got there. The app didn't work on my phone, for the first time ever. So we fiddled around a bit; never did get that app to work, but used another map app to get where we wanted to go.  I love technology...when it works.

Arriving at the trailhead, the first thing that greeted us was a man down. Flat on the ground right on the trail. I rode over to see what kind of assistance might be needed. The man had fallen and was shaken up but not hurt. His companion, his brother, asked if I'd stay by the bikes while he walked him back to the car. Certainly.

And then we rode. Turtle Pond at Three Creeks all the way to Pickerington Pond. 9 miles. After a couple of wobbles as Nick got used to his dad's bike, he was styling. We took a longish break at the shelter house at Pickerington Ponds, then 9 miles back to the car. Then to Wendy's. Hoo boy a 14 year old can certainly chow down!

And that was it. The misbehaving app? Turns out it was time for me to pay for another year, and I hadn't. Didn't know the year was up. Couldn't they at least have sent me a notice before turning it off? Sheesh.

It was goodness riding with Nick. It was also goodness that we could maintain a decent clip just two days after our 36 mile ride. 

Thursday, July 23, 2015

holey moley what a ride


Such a ride!

We hadn't been on the Richland B&O trail for 2 years. 36 miles there and back, one of the longest, if not THE longest ride we've ever attempted. Yesterday was the day. High of about 78, low humidity, beautiful skies, and no conflicting appointments or responsibilities. I wanted to see how well I could handle this trail with my handy dandy 21 speed bike.

We started at the Whiffletree Restaurant in Butler, Ohio. First mistake. We didn't know they were closed on Wednesdays. That was truly disappointing, and we were hungry. Rather than ride around and hopefully find something else, we spied a Duchess and purchased their pre-packaged sandwiches, which we scarfed down in the car. That was probably my second mistake, as I just dearly love egg salad sandwiches, and by the end of the day.....

But hooray for the ride! The sky delivered on its promise to be beautiful. The corn was high in the fields, the trees provided lovely shade, the varied scenery on the trail, from hilly farmland vistas, to somewhat looming cutaways in the rocks, to listening to babbling brooks, to the sweet sweet smells of summer; it was a joyful ride.

Riding through Belleville, we saw a sign pointing to a restaurant, which we decided to try on our way back. We still had those sandwiches working their way through us. (No problems at that time...). At the YKnot bike shop we stopped in for a restroom break and purchased a bike reflector for me, and ice cream sandwiches for both of us. They even keep cold water in their cooler for bikers to refill their water bottles.

Back on our bikes, we continued on to Mansfield. At the very very end of the trail there's an access trail to a park. We were glad to get off our bikes for awhile and rest by the lake, munching granola bars, resting our butts and legs, checking our phones. We were beginning to look forward to returning to Belleville for dinner. What the heck! We live, we bike, we eat!

The ride up to Mansfield was a slight uphill grade; not significant at any point, but constant. I knew on the way back, when my legs were getting tired, I'd be glad to let gravity lend a hand. Matter of fact, I rode the entire upgrade distance in either 1st or 2nd gear. Thank goodness for 21 speeds. It was never difficult. But on the way back? Wheeeee! Third gear almost all the way. But whether working on pedaling or not, the sit bones got achey, the knees weren't too happy to be constantly in motion.

We got to Belleville. The restaurant? No longer exists. But George got out his cell phone and told it to find us something close. Sure, we could have waited until we got back to the car, but we really needed to be off our bikes at that point. I asked a rather ditsy old lady on her bike if she knew a place, and she did, but she kept forgetting just exactly how to get there. George found the place she was referring to, and knew how to get there. But I didn't want to be rude to the old lady, so I paid attention as she kept rambling on, editing her earlier comments, trying to stay focused. Finally we had to leave, and she was still talking. We thanked her, said good-bye, and heard her STILL talking about how to get to the restaurant even while we were riding away on our bikes. Dear old lady, how to you ever get your bike back in your car and find your way home? You must have angels around you.

At the restaurant, we walked in and saw that lots of old folks ate there. Well, ok, and we're kind of old folks ourselves. The food was a click better than decent, and all was well. We saw two men who had each lost an arm for one reason or another, figuring it was accidents with farming equipment. One of them talked to us as we were unlocking our bikes. Nice old guy. He said he'd like to get back on a bike again; I decided to not tell him we have a friend in his 80s who is still riding his bike with only one arm (which he lost in a farm equipment accident while still a teenager.)

And then, finally, the last 7 or 8 miles to get back to the parking lot and the van. George braked, stopped his bike, and promptly fell over. Lordy! He was ok, but I'm glad we had antibiotic cream and bandaids on hand. It's good he had his helmet on, too. Asphalt isn't very soft, ya know. We knew we'd have to ice a couple of places on his leg when we got home, but still he was ok. Still did the driving.

And now for the last mistake. George didn't want to take the freeway back, and the maps on the cell phone weren't quite making sense. But we got something decent figured out, drove to Mohican, picked up route 3 to get home. Oh! Wait! Route 3 is closed to traffic in Centerville. And now, with George sort of grumpy because of his fall, me with my very slow map reading skills, and now me with that egg salad sandwich giving me some ominous warnings, we had to navigate unknown back roads to figure out how to get home. And we did, with too many extra miles on the car.

It was still an excellent bike ride. For me, it affirmed that I continue to strengthen. For both of us, we will definitely ride this one again, but never on a Wednesday. TheWhiffletree was supposed to be part of the plan. And yes, George is OK, just trying to figure out why the heck he fell.

Last night I had significant empowering dreams that sprung up from the joy of the ride, but that'll be a post for another day.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

3 x 3

Photoshop fun with the neighbors.




Friday, July 17, 2015

quality time



Relief. My friend does not have cancer...yet. She will be watched like a hawk, though. That should be the end of my talking about my friend. It is her story to tell, or not, as she sees fit. I'll honor that.
Yet, at the same time, that part of her life that interacts with my own is fair game.

I think about her and her probable future, which probably includes cancer.
And yet.
Nothing is certain.

I was told my lymphoma would come back in my torso.
It's been 30 years, and it hasn't come back.

I was told my bladder cancer would undoubtedly return, given the extent of the tumors.
It has been over 20 years. it hasn't come back.

I was told my breast cancer would have to be monitored carefully, the tumor was large.
It's been 9 years. It hasn't come back.

That doesn't mean hers (if/when) will be the same, but I do suspect kickass attitude helps. And I have enough of that to spare.

There is no adventure quite like that as spending time as a human being, yes?

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

good news bad news



good news...it's not raining in this moment
bad news...we've had so much rain our yard is swampy
good news...tomorrow will be a dry day and we can take a bike ride
bad news...and then the weather turns hot and humid
good news...tomatoes like hot and humid
bad news...deer like the tomatoes
good news...George has a way to repel the deer
bad news...but it won't work with the snails devouring our lettuce
good news...I'm harvesting the garlic
..........
there's no bad news about garlic

Sunday, July 12, 2015

rainrainrain



rainrainrainraingrumblerainrainrainrainrainarghrainrainrainrainrainsheeshrain

Friday, July 10, 2015

and now we wait



My friend may have cancer.
Or not.

Now comes the hard part. Waiting for the results of a biopsy. I'm quite familiar with that wait. It's probably the hardest part of the journey - depending on how one's imagination is wired. For me, it seemed like I was standing at a fork in the road, trying to see the path ahead to the left, trying to see the path ahead to the right. You know, it's hard to know how to prepare when you don't know where you're going.

If it's good news, then "whew"!
If it's bad news, then at least you can start making plans.
Action is always easier than passively waiting for the shoe to drop.

I don't want her to have to take the hard path. Even though there will be treasures not dreamed of to be found if she can journey with her heart and eyes open.

But I still don't want her to have to take this path. 

Wednesday, July 08, 2015

not whining about wine



Seven bottles of pear wine. Corked. With a hand held corker. I did it. I've been eyeing that corker for awhile, intimidated by the words of a friend who said corking wine is difficult. Well guess what. It's not. Maybe she used a different corker. Maybe she just didn't have the arm strength.


Monday, July 06, 2015

home again home again jiggity jig



It's so good to be home. I'm certainly glad to visit Pittsburgh again; I got the photos I wanted to get, plus many more. I'd love to spend several days just knocking around the city without having to follow another agenda, but that's not likely to happen.

Contests. They are problematic. Competing at the technical level? Sure. That makes sense. Either you can do something...or you can't. But competing at the artistic level? How does that work, anyway? Creativity comes from the heart or soul, and one person's creativity isn't to be compared to somebody else's. Some forms are more popular, sure, but none can be deemed "better." I wonder if these singing conventions would get as many participants if it wasn't a contest at all - just a gathering and sharing.

Sunday, July 05, 2015

day 7 Saturday



Knocked around the point with lots of others on this 4th of July.
Found the mile 0 marker for the Great Allegheny Passage.
dinner with the Core family
and then the quartet finals.

I wish I could say how much I enjoyed the quartet contest...but in all honesty...I didn't enjoy it. For my ears it was more of a lung capacity contest. Who can sing in tune with the most decibels.

Even gathering in one of the hotel rooms afterwards with about a dozen of us old farts was too much noise for my ears. I don't know what that's about. Well. We did get a knock on the door from the hotel manager, say we'd have to tone it down - too loud for neighboring rooms. A dozen old farts. And the young'ns think the old farts are boring..

Friday, July 03, 2015

day 6 Friday




Chorus contest tonight. The Alliance placed 7th. Everybody seems happy with the score. I'm just happy the contest is over with. I've had enough barbershop singing, but still have tomorrow to deal with. 

Thursday, July 02, 2015

day 5 Thursday



We wandered the Strip today, then watched the semi finals in the evening. The Core didn't make the cut tonight, though we hoped. Had a great Polish meal somewhere in the strip. 

Wednesday, July 01, 2015

day 4 Wednesday



We moved from the Day's Inn to the Wyndham. Got in early, but they found a room. Perhaps its more like a closet, but oh well. Also, the free wi-fi? What a laugh. But quarter finals were today, and we got to listen to Core sing and make the cut. Good! 

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

day 3


What a glorious hoot! We drove through the tunnel and over the bridge to get to the downtown portion of Pittsburgh. George mapped out where the parking garage was...supposed to be. It wasn't there. Well, actually it was, but it wasn't public. See what happens when maps aren't updated? So we spun around the block for maybe a dozen times trying to get it figured out. Drove into a couple of garages and immediately backed out. Just don't ask, OK?  We eventually drove back over a bridge and landed in a more residential area where we actually found a place where we could pull over and look at the maps on paper, rather than on our cell phones. Then, refreshed, we drove back over the river and tried again. Finally after pretty much giving up, and knowing we'd have to bleed a bit with the high parking rates, we actually found the garage we were looking for.

We met our friends and walked over to a hole in the wall pizza place. I love these local places rather than the sterile franchises. We had a few laughs because one of the men thought he was being charged for having sauce on his pizza. He was in a quiet snit, and we three ladies were not being very kind about it. Our basic response was "just deal with it. Pay the price. It's not worth the trouble." And then, when he got the bill, it turned out he was wrong. He was charged for extra pepperoni. Oh well. We had fun with it for awhile.

We parted ways. George and I went looking for a place I'd remembered from years ago, a plaza surrounded by beautiful buildings with many wonderful windows. Back then it felt like I'd been standing in the middle of a diamond. Well, we found it. It wasn't the best time of day for the reflections I'd yearned to see again, but nevertheless we found it. And then, after schlepping around that part of town, it started to rain. We didn't have umbrellas. We needed to get to that parking garage a few blocks away. So we hopped from one sheltered overhang to another. At one point we waited inside a convenience store where there was an argument heating up and we sort of felt like we should get out of there, given the insane violence always making the news.

And so here we are. Back in our motel room. It may be a two glass of wine night. But what an adventure! And I love an adventure.

Monday, June 29, 2015

day 2



Wonderful boat ride on the rivers. The sky was delightful, the temperature was just right, and there were so many bridges! What fun to take a series of pictures approaching a bridge, then going under. Can't post them now, don't have the capability to put photos on my laptop.

And then off to "The Strip". I could have stayed there all day and gone back again the next day. Kinda hippy-ish.

Pittsburgh is hilly, so driving is an adventure. So is sitting in the passenger seat...
Scary times.
But good times.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

day 1



In Pittsburgh. Not much to report. Tomorrow we take a boat ride on the river(s). We drove around a bit and got as lost as you can get with a gps in the car, which isn't very lost. S'ok. With all the hills, I can't imagine driving around this city in the winter. But for now just chilling in the motel room, drinking wine out of a Day's Inn plastic glass. Plastic glass? Is that a thing? Should I call it a plastic tumbler? If nothing else, it's kinda nice to just be chillin with no chores and responsibilities staring at me.

Friday, June 26, 2015

just another day in this amazing universe



Life is such a patchwork!
One patch: awaiting an important SCOTUS decision today, one that will affect the lives of my gay friends.

Another patch: awaiting President's Obama's eulogy in Charleston. Historic.

Another patch: watching and listening to my son's quartet. They make me cry (in a good way.)

Another patch: watching and listening to my 14 year old grandson singing solid bass in an adult men's chorus, plus having quality front row moves.

Another patch: how do you communicate to the guy front row center that his zipper is down? Without causing him embarrassment?

Another patch: sitting by the kitchen window listening to the owl behind our house plus the hawk calling overhead.

Another patch: another day of weaving a very large and beautiful patch; woven of both burlap and silk; the patch of our love for each other.

Monday, June 22, 2015

choosing how to die



Ania was telling me about her cancer. She was young, strong, and hadn't lost all of her hair from chemo. She actually kept about 50% of it. She cut it short, but she kept getting hairs in her mouth. And then she cut it all off. Why? She said if she's going to die, she'd rather die of cancer than die of a hairball.

I'm still laughing. 

Sunday, June 21, 2015

an answer



One of my former students (from 30 years ago) asked me publicly (on Facebook) to come back to the Church. The Catholic church. How did he know? And yet, I don't hide it. He's a fine young man, but not deep into introspective thought. I want to answer him honestly, but in such a way that I don't diminish where he is on his own spiritual path.

Here is my answer. Did you ever have a set of nested boxes given to you as a gift? You unwrap the first one to find another smaller box inside, also wrapped. You unwrap that one, then there's another. And another. And so on. Well, the church, for me, was the first wrapped box. Eventually I found another wrapped box hidden within and unwrapped it. I'm not opposed to what is good and true about the church. It's just that, for me, I've found a treasure within it that speaks more to my yearnings. And those nested boxes that keep getting smaller and smaller? In this spiritual journey, it seems like each nested treasure is larger than the box it was within.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

today



Well, that happened.
Today was my annual visit to the oncologist,
and I was so sure it was the 10th year
and he'd say I'm fine, don't come back.

But he didn't.
It's my 9th year.

Ya, so all the tests came back good and all, but what happened????
I asked George why I might have thought it was my 10th year. He said it was because that's what I wanted it to be.  So. "Create your own reality" doesn't always work, it seems.

Having said all that...
I'm doing just fine, thankyouverymuch!

Sunday, June 14, 2015

happiness is



...as happy as a snake soaking up warmth in the compost bin.
????
really?
I suppose that's better than the very fat wolf spider in the compost bin...

Saturday, June 13, 2015

distant horizon



There is no better phone call than the one I got yesterday. The cardiologist's office called - the nurse wanted me to know that my heart is very, very strong. She was impressed.

You see, for so many years I've dealt with cancer diagnoses, gall bladder complications, vision concerns, and just the aging process in general, enhanced by some pretty grueling chemotherapies. But yesterday? Your heart is very healthy, she said, especially based on your medical history. Keep riding your bicycle.

Yes, I know my cycling has improved, but there's been this undercurrent...time is running out, and I don't know when the final curtain is going to drop. Fact is, I still don't know when it's going to drop, but on my bicycle, looking into the distance, that horizon is now very, very far away.

Life is good. It always is, no matter what.
But sometimes life is even awesome. 

Thursday, June 11, 2015

feathers on my mind



I pulled a feather out of my down pillow.
A chicken gave its life (unwillingly) so that I could have a chicken sandwich in the daytime
and a comfy pillow at night.

I wonder if that chicken had a name known only to its mom.
Did that little chickie even know its mom?
Or was it taken from her as soon as it left the cramped comfort of the egg?

Do chickens recognize each other? Seems to me they do. And do the hens recognize their chicks?
Do hens grieve the absence of chicks that are taken from them?

Etc.

We are such relentless omnivores.
There are times I get really tired of being a sentient biological, thinking I'm a higher life form.


Sunday, June 07, 2015

amazing grace



Amazing grace
how sweet the sound
that saved a wretch like me
I once was lost
but now I'm found
was blind, but now I see.

What is it about that song?
The haunting melody, the deep feelings when both listening and singing.
I cannot deny the feelings on one hand. On the other hand I recoil at the words.

I never was a wretch.
And what was I supposedly saved from?
Nobody saved me.
When I was lost, I found my own way back.
Yes, of course, with some help.
Help I asked and paid for.
Blind?
Yes and no.
Our vision expands as our heart matures.
So yes, in a sense, I was blind...
and now I see.

Which is why the words bug me.

Thursday, June 04, 2015

la la la I'm not listening



It was a very good ride. The weather was cool, I concentrated on staying hydrated. We rode 11 miles to Granville, had a decent lunch, then another 11 miles back. Though the return ride was a bit of an uphill grade, my new bike handled it quite well, as did my legs. Not a problem. I was tired at the end, but it's that good buzz tired. Every time I have to get on and off the bike, my awkwardness decreases just a bit. All in good time, I say. Life is good.

And then. I'm resting in my chair, he's at his computer looking at the numbers. Telling me that I won't be happy with the numbers. I did worse today then the other two times we rode the trail.
Two things: his numbers were wrong
and
it wasn't worse for me. Because it's not about the friggin' numbers.

I just hate how numbers can do that. Although I loved the ride, the numbers tried to tell me I was inferior to whatever I was before.  Sigh. Just another voice I have to ignore. Seems like there's a lot of voices to ignore these days. 

Tuesday, June 02, 2015

just don't get caught



I can talk about it now.

Yesterday I had a med check with my doctor. I told him about my somewhat minor bike deal last Friday. I wanted him to confirm that I was correct in deciding dehydration and a bit of a panic attack were to blame. He wouldn't give me that. He ran an EKG. It looked good. We talked a bit, I told him I had a goal of doing a 50 mile ride before the year was out. And then he said he wanted me to see a cardiologist.

What? Why?

His words...heart disease is the number one killer in the United States. I have two risk factors. I protest, saying these two things are managed with relatively minor meds. (which is why I was in for a med check in the first place, dammit.) No matter, he says. Let's just get you checked out so we can be a little more comfortable with your goals. He says my assessment of last Friday's event is probably correct, but he can't confirm based only on heresay. So ok, I relent. Yes, I'll go.

For the rest of the day I was depressed/pissed. I'm just about to have my medical file closed from breast cancer, and now we have to open another one? Seriously? Am I ever going to be able to get to 50 miles? Do I spend the rest of my life guarding against a heart attack? Bummed.

But today the sun rose, I got a good night's sleep, and I can look at these things with my normal philosophical, attitudinal, humorous, life loving heart. The doc didn't say anything was wrong. He actually said many things were right. He's with me, glad I'm active, wanting me to get those 50 miles. But I'm also 71 and have some medical shit in my history. He's actually my advocate, helping me reach my goal. A good doc, if there ever was one.

Our final conversation, on the way out:
"Stay out of trouble, Pat."
"Awww. Do I have to?"
"Then don't get caught."


Sunday, May 31, 2015

riding stupid



It was a 20 mile bike ride, which isn't even difficult. I did it last year on my "little" bike, which is harder to ride than my new bike. But 3/4 of the way through it I dropped. Not literally. Absent blood and broken bones, dropping off your bike just requires getting back on and carrying on. But my energy bottomed out, and that was worse. Why! My new biking companion, who is still building up endurance, sped past me. I struggled. Pedal once. Pedal again. Repeat ad nauseum. Speaking of which, nausea introduced itself. The last half mile I just got off my bike and walked. It was easier.

We packed the bikes back in the car, stopped locally for something to eat, then came home. I crashed in my recliner chair until bedtime, then crashed into bed, where it seemed like I might be having early heart problems. And yet, my respiration and heart rates were the same as they've always been, and I've always been declared healthy.

So. Next day. A call to my young professional bike fitness friend. We discussed hydration, electrolytes, calories, yoga, core strengthening. She explained that yes, dehydration can do that to you, and, if you don't drink something until you feel thirst, you've already waited too long. Unfortunately, I never really feel "thirst". And yes, I was dehydrated. And electrolytes. She explained that if I ride hard enough that conversation is difficult, then I also need to pay attention to electrolytes.

Bottom line? I'm fine, now. I have a scheduled doctor visit tomorrow anyway, so will mention this event.
But here's what I know for sure: I'm too damned old to be riding stupid.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

see you on the other side



Sometimes the only thing worthwhile is the cup of coffee in the morning and the glass of wine at night.

No, nothing wrong here. Just tired. A good night's sleep (which didn't happen last night) cures all kinds of minor complaints. Tomorrow I put the finishing touches on our next bike ride. Xenia to Yellow Springs. A nice ride, and I especially like oh, all of it!

On our last bike ride, she and I looked at the bike bridge that arches over Rt. 33. It would be a push to get over it without walking, so my parting comment was "see you on the other side." I've thought about that phrase, thinking it's a bit like what we'd say to each other when one of us is dying. See you on the other side. Not a whole lot different from contemplating the bridge. Effort, but the passage would take place one way or another. By the way...we both were able to pedal to the top. It was effort. But so what. 

Sunday, May 24, 2015

not much to say



I'll just say this...

I'm glad I don't live in a family where the parents hire a stripper to appear at their son's graduation party. And then I hear the stripper drove up to the house, saw the condition of the party goers, got back in her car and drove away. Wow. I'm glad I made the obligatory appearance early, ate some food, chatted with a couple of folks, and returned home.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

oofy stuff



I was at a party - celebrating the high school graduation of the son of  one of our neighbors. I don't speak much to the younger set living around me, mostly because I'm not good at sitting out in the evening discussing sports et al. But we all get along, so it's all good.

Anyway. One of the neighbors asked me to say "hi" to Mr. Denino. I corrected her by suggesting she can call him George. She responded with words to the effect that she wanted to respect us as the matriarch and patriarch of the neighborhood. Yes, we're certainly the oldest. But I suggested that if she wants to respect us, then respect our wishes to call us by our first names.

Oof. We're the old farts of the neighborhood. A generation older than all the others. Oof.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

magic


a magical day
clear skies
trees in early leaf
a bicycle path

the love of my life
he'll ride ahead
and always know where I am
keeping tabs on me
with his rear view mirror
counting the miles
noting and remembering the details

and my sister soul friend
new to bicycling
stops
breathes
gazes
proclaims this as sacred

Sunday, May 17, 2015

renewal





A writing assignment on renewal and home...

Where is home for me?
Where do I go to renew my spirit?
Sure, my house, shared with my husband,
provides a place for rest and renewal
in a temporal kind of way.
And it is good.
Very, very good.

But sometimes "things" invade this house,
this shelter of roof and walls and favorite things
and the arms of my lover.
Things that generate sorrow,
or anger,
or fear,
or any number of other difficult feelings.
His arms
give me comfort and strength
while I ride out the storm.

My soul needs more, though.
And so I go out to the universe itself.
Out to where my understanding of  divinity resides.
Out there,
in here,
everywhere.
Because in the beginning...God.
Or the big bang. Same thing.
And in that beginning,
even if it wasn't the first beginning,
God created the universe.
Since there was no other "something" with which to create,
 God created the universe from Herself.
In fact, my mythology says the Goddess and the universe are the same thing.
Science informs us that all the subatomic particles
that exist today
were formed at the time of the big bang,
and I am made up of a portion of those particles.
So in one form or another
I was present
at the very beginning.

How does this renew my spirit?
It reminds me that I'm part of All That Is.
I am part of the Goddess.
And, since the universe,
or the Goddess (whichever mode you prefer)
is without boundary,
then wherever I am
I am in the center
because the center is all there is.

Here I am!
Part of the Goddess,
residing in the very center.
My current pain,
or sorrow,
or anger,
or jubilation,
or tenderness
are opportunities for the Goddess
to experience Herself
in the human form.

And so. While I experience those difficult things,
I also willingly offer them to the Goddess within me,
adding to the fullness and creation of the universe.
My home.

I remember who I am.
I am renewed.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

stormy weather


A powerful spring storm blew though yesterday; possible tornado in Pataskala. Not like the storms in the plains, of course, but damage is damage, regardless. Fortunately, no damage for us. But tomorrow's bike ride should probably be adjusted to accommodate any flooding.

The storm was good, though. It blew away the heat and humidity, and probably cleaned the air of pollen, at least temporarily. I mention this because it seems both weather related storms and emotionally charged storms both clear the air. Good.

As my son says, "fractals be".