Sunday, March 30, 2008

Heat Seeker

If I weren't cold, I would do it.
If it weren't another slate gray sky, I'd be on it.
My bike sits in the garage, loaded and ready.
I sit on the couch, snuggled in and sipping coffee.

If the coffee weren't so warm and tasty,
If I didn't have to do laundry and to start a job search,
If I just could read the rest of my book
when I returned,
then I'd be right on that bike.

If the concert hadn't been so good last night,
If the fiddle hadn't pulled my heart out
through the tips of my nipples,
If I hadn't waltzed with the banjo and the guitar,
In concert
synchronized souls
Then I wouldn't have to savor it
and instead
I'd get out on my bike.

- Beat -

If I could erase the memory of THAT hill
the one that kicks my ass every year
then my heart wouldn't jump
I wouldn't hear my adrenaline say
You have demons to conquer, TT
even today on a cold,
slate gray,
post-concert day.

But -
I do remember
My heart does jump
I do have demons
I do want to engage them...

Can't touch this fire -
See you on that hill.

*Edit: I fought the hill and... who won? Well, let's just call it a draw. :-)
Biked 1:48.07, 30.6 miles, Avg. 17 MPH

Wednesday, March 26, 2008


Biked 25.5 miles in 1:26.01 in sun, wind, and 46°.
Avg. = 17.7 MPH

The love affair begins anew. Anticipate long, besotted essays devoted to my Serra, shown here in his photo shoot at Waterford.

Quite a hottie, no?

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Woman in Wind

It is a windy day
geese cartwheel
across a slate gray sky
like so many bed sheets flapping
in a line-drying frenzy

This almost-violent playfulness
strikes a answering chord in me
In this
my inaugural run of the 2008 season
my feet pound up the hill
I am going too fast
A glance at my heart rate monitor
confirms the call
to bridle my enthusiasm
to rein in this wind
to take my time

I do.

I feel my feet upon this path
hear the dying crunch of this snow's
final days
control my slip across snowmobile-packed ice.

In the woods
I even stop and gaze
at the trees waving their branches
and touch my hand to the warmth
by the kiss of the wind
on each of my cheeks

The speed of the wind
the careening of the geese
are now in sharp contrast with me
The centered one
Centered in my shoes and in my knees
This run brings a resurgence of joy
of peace
of exhilaration
of springtime in Wisconsin.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

In Reality, Frozen

I sit the day after skiing with a bag of frozen corn on my knee. I am ticked at myself for falling, ticked at myself for having to challenge myself on my first day of skiing in the mountains. More than anything though, I am utterly disappointed that my actions are resulting in me sitting at home cozied up with frozen corn and One Hundred Years of Solitude. I should be in Boulder hiking with my cousin and then finding out all about the Boulder Cruiser rides he's been raving about in his emails to me. He has intrigued me with teasers such as:

  • How do you feel about drinking and riding?
  • Silly attired is encouraged.
  • Bring an overnight bag just in case you feel like letting loose a little.

But here I sit
feeling like sh-t
with frozen corn
on a swollen knee
writing crappy poet-ry,
Poor ME.

And then I realize that it will happen. That I will return to Colorado and visit my cousin in Boulder. I realize that I trust my judgment on my knee, that I made the right call today. That sane people just don't push an injury the day after it occurs. That my gut-reading of my body and reason need to prevail over my passion, whim, and curiosity sometimes.

And then I believe. I know to my toes that my knee will heal, that I'll make the right decisions to encourage its healing and that someday... I will ride again. Someday I will be out in this Colorado sun and wind, and it will carry me. I'll wear a costume to make Steve in a Speedo proud, to represent for us Midwesterners, to cruise the bike-friendly streets of Boulder. My spirit will fly...

The chill in my knee pulls my head out of the clouds, the ache in my butt from sitting all day says, "Hey girlie, you're here!" I pop another ibuprofen and...


Cuz for today, it's corn for me folks.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

The Day the Old Dog Got Wet

It all happened the day that the old dog got wet, the day that we didn't ski, the day that two missions were thwarted. It all happened the day that I smiled at everyone.

Picture two sisters in a van, driving to a ski hill. Hear them talking. See them drive 30 miles past their exit before they notice that they missed their turn. See them go to the nearest mountain, hop on the shuttle and find that the chalet is out of rentals. See them drive all the way back home, postponing the ski trip until the next day - still talking, now laughing at themselves.

See them get home. One heads upstairs to work on web design. The other heads out the door to bike to the Y to swim. One accomplishes her mission. The other overshoots her turn and realizing it, is too intrigued by what might lie ahead on this network of Denver bike paths. She keeps riding, swimsuit under her bike clothes, backpack full of showering gear and bearing Y card strapped to her back. She ends up at Chatfield State Park and immediately sees the Chatfield Reservoir and the trail that seems to lead around its circumference. She immediately sees her new mission. She does not see the "Authorized Vehicles Only" signs. Until an hour later when she has completed the loop, has ridden along the top of the levee and then descended to weave her way around deserted campgrounds and through swampy woods to arrive back at her starting point - only then does she see the signs.

Threading her way back home along the bike paths, she finds that she is smiling. At everyone. She smiles at the grouchy lady pulling her mini-van into her garage, at the middle-aged guy walking his dog who seems to resent having to share the path with her, at the cute kid walking his old blind dog who doesn't seem to have a resentment or a worry in the world. She smiles at the world, and the sunshine feels like it's smiling with her.

She smiles at the sister who greets her when she walks in the door. The sister's brow unfurls and work tensions evaporate in a laugh as she listens to the younger sister complain of a hunger so strong that it seemed as though her stomach had folded over on itself and was eating itself. A slug of Acclerade and a bottle of water later, she hitches up two yellow labs and walks them out into the sunshine, into the open space that is the front range of the Rockies, that bows in the shadow of those monoliths, that seems like a little sister itself - stretching to reach the heights of its elder, carved with muddy arroyos, decorated with yucca and prickly cacti, dotted with the mounds of prairie dogs, and oh-so-sunlit today. The dogs and the sister weave their way through, sometimes on the paved path but more often on the dirt path, finding their way to the newly-gushing creek, where the old, arthritic dog can't contain her joy at the day and jumps in, swims to her heart's content and then comes out to chase the younger dog in tight wet circles. They growl and they spit up gravel, leaving muddy clods in their wake. The younger sister follows them home.

It all happened the day that the old dog got wet, the day that we didn't ski, the day that two missions got thwarted. It all happened today.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Grrr... to Brrr...?

NOT SO QUICK! I did get out and bike yesterday. Let me tell you a little secret.

Middle schoolers are unreliable reporters of the weather.

All afternoon I heard dire reports and complaints of how they'd had to go outside for recess and their science class. A sampling for your pleasure:

  • It's sooooo windy and cold outside!
  • Why do we have to go out? We're just all going to get sicker!
  • Is the school trying to kill us? (Obviously this one possesses insight.)

The science teacher herself shook her head and told me to bundle up when I said I was riding.

So I listened and bundled up. And walked out into pure sunshine and 40 degrees. No, that is not the promised 43 degrees, but sheesh, we've had teens and 20s. I was sweating within a mile. I had to stop at a friend's house to ditch layers. But then -- I had my first ride. And it was BEAUTIFUL. My bike is awesome. There is nothing, no thing, like a bike that fits you like a glove. My bike fits.

How does it feel? Like the hills aren't as hard. Like immediate response when I push down on my pedals. Like my tires grip the road and go. Like butter.

Speaking of butter, I think of FOOD when I bike. Unlike any other workouts, I obsess about food. It had been so long that I didn't remember - until I smelled homemade chicken pot pie as I was riding last night. There was no pot pie in sight. Nor a chicken for that matter.

Rest assured, I did get to eat. I biked to a birthday party. My calories were replaced. View exhibit A.

Net sum:
Sunlight, Snow, Serra, & Me: 17.5 miles, 1:01. (That wind they complained about was a tailwind. Woot!) I am back in the saddle. View exhibit B.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

April Fool in March


I waxed my bike on Sunday.
(She who has never waxed anything in her life.)
I lubed the chain.
I dug out my biker bottles
and juiced them up with Gatorade.
I stocked my airbox.
I loaded up all my gear: helmet, shoes, clothes
and have been carting it around for two days.
It was supposed to be 43 degrees today.
It's not.


Sunday, March 09, 2008

This Is Me

I travel lightly. I skip across the waves. I sprint along the foam line of the Pacific. Cold water laps at my ankles, knees, thighs. My numb feet pound the sand, my exhilarated heart pounds at its rib cage, joy permeates my pores.

I travel lightly upon this Earth. I need so little. I need sunshine, I need wind, I need inspiration and humanity...

This is me. I am free. To write, to think, to feel. I give myself permission. To grow wings. To fly.

Saturday, March 08, 2008

7 Things

Rural Girl tagged me. Here are 7 things about me:

#1. My mom is an apple dumpling of a woman. She used to be 5'7" and now has shrunk to shorter than me - around 5'3". She is overweight. She dyes her hair sandy blond and has blue eyes. People say I look like her, that I have her smile. I love hearing that.

#2. My (nearly-ex) husband is gorgeous. He's 5'9" and weighs 210 pounds. His nickname in school was "Arnold." As in Schwarzenegger. He started lifting weights when he was in 2nd grade so that he could protect his mom from his dad. A co-worker of his once stopped me in a store to gush about how lucky I was that my husband was sooooo hot. I wonder what she'd say if I saw her in the grocery store now. Am I unlucky?

#3. My favorite students are fickle, needy, energetic, impressionable middle schoolers. A couple of weeks ago, I let slip that I'm going to Mexico this summer. Luciano, whom I've had as a student in one capacity or another since he came here from Mexico 4 years ago, lit up like a Christmas tree. "Where? We're going to be there this summer too! When are you going?" It took him about 3 seconds to realize that his peers' jaws had dropped. He quickly slumped back down in his seat and muttered something about how he was sure that it was too far a drive for me to come and visit him anyways.

Since then, I've been "slipping in" references to Mexico, propping travel books, history books, and Mexico maps on the white board ledge. He's biting. He lets slip that his family still owns their home there. That his grandma lives nearby. That I will definitely want to take a camera. (Um, Luciano, it was already packed.) That he and his friends play soccer from sunup until noon.

I know that some day, near the end of July in 2008, I will play a game of soccer in Guanajuato, Mexico.

I also know that I won't win.

#4. I love teaching and could write a book about my students. It would be matched in size by the one about my family. And my nearly-ex husband. I've been called driven and intense. Um. Yeah.

#5. I am a traveler, a seeker. I read like a fiend. I've backpacked all over the United States, Canada, Alaska, and western Europe. I studied abroad in Spain for 6 months. Yo hablo espaƱol.

#6. Last weekend I cried in a Kwik Trip bathroom. I cried because I realized that my biggest strength is also one of my deepest flaws. I later cried as I was skiing and yet again as I did dishes. I cried for me and for my gorgeous, nearly-ex husband, and for the demise of a love affair. I cried for my mom who took care of my uncle as he died. I cried for his family. For my dad for losing his brother. I cried because snow is white. That's how much I cried.

When I wasn't crying, I was teasing my dad and my brother - and getting teased right back. I was listening to my mom and sisters, perusing photos and telling stories to my nephews and nieces. I participated.

#7. This is me. I am all of these things, all of these people. I am 5'5" tall and weigh 140 pounds. I have brown hair and brown eyes. I am huge.

I think we all are.


And now, I tag the following 6 bloggers:


Have at it!

Sunday, March 02, 2008

Phenomenal Woman

I turn my skis and face directly into the wind. Deliberately. I know this spot. I am strong.

I come from a strong line. My mom blew the lid off of amazing again this week. I can’t find the words to describe her. I’ll use hers…

He didn’t want to give in to using the diapers and so every time he had to go to the bathroom, he’d kick and groan and move his legs to the edge of the bed. We had to put our hands on him and hold him and soothe him. “It’s all right, Darry. Go to the bathroom. We’ll clean you up. We’ll take care of you. We're here.”

She watched him through the nights, through the days, staying at his side while others rotated in and out. She sat with his 14 year old granddaughter and later marveled at how much she learned from her. She lead visitors up to see him, helped them to say good-bye, sang and talked. She administered rectal medications and cleaned up after his body rejected them or bled out cancerous clots. She sat, she absorbed, she gave. She was steady. She is a matriarch, a woman in full. A work of art, of wonder, of beauty.

She sat with him on the last night, watched his breathing grow more labored and his struggles to get out of bed become more futile, weaker. She awakened his wife and phoned his children. She cleaned his body one last time. When the last son arrived, she left the room. On two replaced knees, she traversed the steps down to the living room. She lay on the couch and caught an hour’s sleep as he died.

In the morning there would be laundry and food preparation. In the morning, she would fasten the clasp of her sister-in-law's wedding pearls so that she could wear them to the visitation.

I am wide-eyed as this story pours out of her mouth in a stream of talk. She is utterly exhausted, curled up in the recliner. She tears up at points, looks down at gnarled, arthritic hands, pauses, but goes on. She shares the intimate details of his failing health and his eventual death, and in so doing, she is sharing his life. And hers. I see and I hear the courage of one woman, her wisdom, her steadiness, the gravity she provided this week to a family – not even her blood relatives, but those of my father. They knew that they could orbit her. They consulted her, listened to her, trusted her judgment.

She was never even a nurse. She dropped out of nursing school to marry my dad. To move to a farm and raise hundreds of cows and eight kids.

When I turn my face into the wind and feel that familiar comfort, it is to say: I can't touch my mom, but I have watched her. She lives an example. I see how it is done, I have witnessed her fortitude, her capacity. I stand on the shoulders of giants and persist. And admire a whole damn lot.

*Author's note: I am well aware that my title is taken from Maya Angelou's poem. Our phenomenal women are quite different though.