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nightmare, revisited

It’s almost unfathomable that we could experience another nightmarish day of tornados again after last April – that catastrophic weather could be spawned across the country once again.  First Illinois, then Alabama, Kentucky, Indiana, and Tennessee again, and I don’t even know the continuing scope of today’s damage.  But locally, our fears have become reality.  Again.

A tornado (tornados?) tore through our county again today, hitting almost yards from some locations that had been devastated last spring.  Our home was spared, yet again other nearby neighbors not so lucky.  Again.  My friend Jenn’s neighborhood was hard hit, and my heart goes out to them.  A neighborhood next to our middle school sustained major damage, homes destroyed.  Injuries.  Reports of people pinned and trapped in collapsed buildings eastward in the county.  The news is heartbreaking – from here to surrounding states.  And the night is not yet over.

Our Red Cross disaster assessment team go out as quickly as we could, and before we could even get assessment numbers on one neighborhood, we were called back in because of a second round of tornado warnings being issued.  I’ve seen one very small neighborhood, a few streets, and I don’t even want to imagine what else lays out there, judging from reports I have heard.

When we got the call to come in, take shelter, we headed over to the local EOC, watching radar, listening to reports being radioed in from various sources.  We ran out of daylight, and now the only responders are emergency fire and rescue personell.  I know it will be an around-the-clock for these people, along with our Red Cross Disaster Director and the shelter staff.

The Red Cross has opened a shelter, the calls from local residents are coming in at a steady pace.  As I write this, we are under another tornado warning.  I am home with my family, and our hand-crank radio is at hand.

So, not unlike last spring, I am signing off for a period of time unknown.  I think it will be Utilitaire #fail … as there is work to be done, and not only locally.  I suspect I may be deployed within the coming days, weeks, depending on how we can manage locally.  We’ll see. But I am ready to go.

Please support your communities if they have been hit; please support your relief agencies who will be working to serve across the country.  Families are in need.  Donate your time, donate supplies, donate your dollars if possible – they will be greatly needed.

And please … have a plan, make a kit, be prepared.  Godspeed.

the Red Phone at the EOC … can’t help thinking we need a BatPhone

utilitaire 10 of 12: a-go-go

Riding across the Riverside Drive glass bridge in Chattanooga always gives me an imaginary sense of victory(?) over cars.  I love standing on that bridge with my bike and looking down at the cars driving underneath; I am looming over them for a change (even it it’s only in my mind…).

Today’s destination was number 12 on the Utilitaire control card: to get my hair cut.  My once-a-month-or-so trip to Chattanooga to visit my stylist, Chris, at Hair-A-Go-Go gives me a chance to ride into the city on the Riverwalk.

I will confess, I have to drive (shame on me!) to the northern terminus of the Riverwalk from home; but living about 40+ mi outisde of the city, an 80-mile round trip would be a big stretch for a reasonable commuter distance for me. Sorry. This way, anyway, I cut a little off of my driving distance, and get to ride the  “scenic route” into downtown, and have some time to enjoy the destination.    I think the approximate distance from the north end of the path to the Bluff View Art District downtown is about 8 miles one way, so the round trip  makes  for a relaxing and comfortable ride which I almost always make on Elisabetta.

Got my haircut, stopped into the downtown art supply store for a new pen, and then lingered around Coolidge Park for a little while enjoying the incredible sunshine and the balmy temperatures.  I think we reached the mid-70’s.  Lots and lots of people were out, walking, biking, sitting on benches on the Walnut Street Bridge, enjoying picnics in the park.

Before heading back, I stopped to treat myself at Rembrand’s Coffee House in the Art District.  I was in the mood for one of their blackberry Italian Cream Sodas …  it was heavenly, especially on the warm day.  I am not exactly sure what makes it “Italian” (because I don’t remember ever seeing anything like this in Italy), but it is basically blackberry syrup, soda water, and some cream – yes, real cream – over ice.  Not something to indulge in on a regular basis, but for an occasional treat, I shall have no guilt over it(!).

My hair is back to it’s short and trimmed state, my journal enjoyed the sun and the park (if not my attempts with the new pen), and I am still imagining the sweetness of blackberries and cream.  A few scenes from the day … and a big thank you to the very kind new friends who have visited these pages from today’s Freshly Pressed; it was an unexpected surprise, and I am quite bowled over by the kind words and responses.  Many thanks.

buying pens

playing with new pens

Chattanooga has a thriving hipster population  … Riverwalk

Scenic City bridges … Coolidge Park

very simply…

… the world always seems more beautiful by bike.

excuse the dust

Friends … I hope you are all enjoying a wonderful Christmas and are now looking forward to celebrating the new year.

I just wanted to let you know that I am currently doing a “renovation” of my blog (perfect timing, eh?); hoping to bring a fresh format, better for photo viewing, and an expanded menu.  I am hoping that the “fresh face” will offer some needed improvements, and a better viewing experience for you.   I am afraid that the learning curve for some of the changes I intend to make may cause a slight headache for those of you receiving email updates.  Please forgive me if you receive several photo post updates – these are being published to enable several galleries within the site.  Sorry.

Some of the format-related changes appear to be a little “twitchy” during the conversion, and for this I apologize; it’s largely due to migrating old content.   New material and posts shouldn’t have as much of a problem.  You may see some changes if viewing on an iPad or mobile device … unfortunately, it’s part of the trade-off to moving into an expanded theme.

So please bear with me for the next few days as I work through this.  If I make the entire thing crash and burn, well … at least I warned you(?).  I hope you will enjoy the new things to come  (keep your fingers crossed).

Cheers!

peace of the season

my struggle with brevity

still waiting for winter to arrive

I tend to fall behind, as you know by now … On my bicycle, as well as in posting to this blog in a timely manner.   I try and tell myself that I should just try to make a habit of “quick and simple” – make it brief –  rather than trying to wait for a time when I feel I really have something to say, something to write.  I should possibly (probably?) treat this more like my messy disjointed journal and be more spontaneous, simple, and concise.

So I tell myself.  And of course I never listen.

This time of year tends to be slightly less than crazy with the holidays just around the corner.  My boys have all come home (smiles), the music has returned, the boys and their friends gather around the table for epic games of Risk late into the night, the shopping and the wrapping are in progress, and the baking will hopefully begin soon.  (And to my friend Myrna, I am sorry but I have yet to try the macaron recipes… sorry.)

Rather than try to write anything more, I’ll leave it to the iPhone pics to tell the story of recent ridings and other sights.  Brief.  I’m trying to be brief.

cars passing

... and cows

knees and knickers

love match

$0.00 per gallon (and $1.00 for the newspaper)

no snow ... only white fluffy stuff of a different kind

longevity road

Fifty-one ... and beyond

Today is brought to you by the number 51.  A little battered and rusty, maybe in need of some new paint, but still fully functional.  A little bit like me.  Today is my birthday – number 51.  :-0

I think the weather was a birthday gift; simply perfect.  Cool but not cold, blue skies, abundant sunshine and a nice tailwind.  I took some time for a long and peaceful ride up along the ridge and to the river.  Contemplating aging, longevity, fate, the ride ahead.

deep blue skies and the long road ahead

today's "stuff"

The fifties have been a little unsettling to me.  Not so much out of vanity, or even fitness and health … more of a wariness of fate, I guess.  This year, I am on the cusp of having out-lived both my mother and my grandmother.  I think it’s always been in the back of my mind: questioning my destiny, wondering if I would outlive them?  They each died too young; my mother from an unexpected brain aneurysm during her 51st year, and my grandmother died during childbirth, delivering my mom.   She was barely into her twenties.

my mom ... who I still miss every day

my grandmother, Irene

And while I think I lead a reasonably healthy and active lifestyle, I find myself wondering if it will really make a difference in the end or not?  Not that I intend to stop doing what I do – I love to cycle, swim, ski, walk, run, hike … they are simply a part of who I am, what I like to do, and the experience enriches my daily life.  I really rarely give the fitness/health benefit much consideration (probably because I don’t work all that hard at any of it, lol.), but I’m sure it’s better than not doing any of it.

yesterday at the pool

Are we a fitter generation?  I like to think so, but sometimes I am not entirely sure.  Obesity statistics, diabetes and heart disease statistics are alarming.  My mom was reasonably active, very slim and always maintained a very healthy weight.  Although she had been a smoker during her younger years (like many of her generation), she had given it up.  She liked to hike, cross-country ski and play golf.  She was a fabulous cook – and instilled in me an appreciation of healthy food and fine cuisine.

So while I consciously attempt to make lifestyle choices that are forward-thinking in regard to health and wellness, I know that it is no guarantee.  Several years ago, we were all shocked when I was diagnosed with a tumor in my right breast; fortunately it was completely benign – but I will confess that it scared the crap out of me.  I had no family history, no obvious risk factors.  It made me realize that despite the best prevention efforts, there are no guarantees.  You can do everything humanly possible – eat well, maintain a healthy weight, wear a helmet, ride defensively, raise your heart-rate on a regular basis – and ultimately, you just never know … it might be a log truck, it might be genetics.

For now, the road ahead looks likes a long one, a good one.  I will keep riding, wearing my helmet, and eating the good foods.  I will swim, and read, and take pictures and try to keep my brain and heart in the best condition I can manage.  I look forward to the “someday” when I can take a grandchild (no rush on this one, boys) for a ride on the back of my Xtracycle, and put him/her on her first skis up in the snowy mountains.  I am filled with the love of my family and friends – which is as good for the heart and the soul as riding a bike.  My goal, for now,  is to be able to pedal a bicycle on my 90th birthday.  And enjoy a cupcake.  I’m not so sure I’ll still be blogging about it by then – but who knows?  😉

three days ago, #CyclingCapTuesday ... when I was still fifty (oh well)

three days ago, #CyclingCapTuesday ... when I was still fifty (oh well)