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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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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? 😉
A big thank you to all of my great friends who took time to share their own photos of the things they carry – on their bikes and otherwise. I love how individual personalities are revealed in such a simple photo, and within the collections of the items they use each day. I also happen to covet some of your stuff! (Lol.)
I might try to revisit this idea again in the future … so if you missed out this time, or want to send a new collection, I’d love to have you send your photos to me: shebicycles at gmail. Thanks for sharing. 🙂
I suppose I should begin with a statement along the lines of, “the views and opinions expressed in this post are mine alone, and do not necessarily represent the views of , well … anybody else – organization, agency or otherwise”.
Today marks six months since our community was devastated by the April 27th tornados. I was invited to attend a community gathering to celebrate one family’s perseverance and hard work on their journey to recovery, as they moved into their new home – built on the very site where they had lost everything six months ago. The rebuilding was a collaborative effort – from the weeks and months of sweat and toil by the homeowners, coupled with help from several local agencies, the long term recovery committee, and the generosity of numerous local contractors and suppliers who provided manpower and materials. I applaud them all, and I am so happy that this family has been able to rebuild and remain in the place they know as home. It exemplifies the good that can be accomplished by a community pulling together, and the strength of a family who never gave up hope.
But as the minutes passed, and the state and local political dignitaries arrived, along with their carloads of security detail, the media, etc., I couldn’t help feeling a little uncomfortable. I know it is “the way of things”, but I personally dislike the whole ribbon-cutting-for-political-photo-ops routine, the talking-head political speech-izing for exposure… the pat-myself-on-the-back “yes, I knew I had to get on the waiting jet to fly home from my duties in the legislature to see what I could do, blah, blah, blah.” (Yes, one of them really said that.)
And as wonderful as it was to see so much rebuilding in this hard-hit neighborhood, there are still many families who are still struggling to recover – houses right across the street that have no roof, people fighting with insurance providers, homes that have been left damaged and even abandoned. Several neighbors (in less fortunate states of rebuilding) were watching all of the hoopla of politicians and the media from across the street – and I couldn’t help wonder how they were feeling?
I was happy that the homeowner was given the chance to say a few words, but at the end of the day it felt a like political showcase. And, in my opinion, Mr. Legislator, the press-worthy heros – or at least the ones I would rather celebrate and hear speak on this day – are the first responders, firefighters and emergency response workers (standing quietly in the background today) who were pulling people from the wreckage of their homes in the dark; the families who ran to help their neighbors and offered them shelter; the local businessmen who donated tens of thousands of dollars in relief supplies; the local community agencies and the long term recovery team who continue to work with struggling families. While I know that politics played a part somewhere in the disaster response equation, it is the reaction, action and perseverance of the local citizens and community that has accomplished the most good.
I confess I left with mixed feelings. Happiness for the family returning home, grateful to the countless community heros who are still hard at work, troubled by the sight of neighbors who continue struggling to recover and rebuild – and sadly, some disdain for the politicians who grabbed this opportunity for press coverage. Just my opinion.
There were some drawings from neighborhood school children that were clipped to a clothesline in the background of all of the ceremonial stuff … and they spoke to me. I’m not even sure if any of the politicians noticed them? When the words “hope” and “joy” are clouds above a piece of heavy equipment moving debris, when the sky is streaked with ink black and crimson, when the sun is bright yellow above a family cat that survived the storm – these are the voices of recovery I hear, and the ones I will never forget.
It’s slightly rattling to think that less than a month ago we were enjoying balmy beach days along the Outer Banks on the southern end of Cape Hatteras – and now portions of the Cape are being evacuated in preparation for possibility of Hurricane Irene making landfall. Today, as I continue to watch the weather forecasts and receive emails from the Red Cross, I find myself feeling anxious … and experiencing that pull that I felt during the tornados back in April.
Since April, I’ve logged over 430 volunteer hours with the Red Cross – a large portion involving classroom training and local disaster response activities, from serving during the tornados to client casework with local house fires. And now (at leaset according to my supervisors and the training staff) I am considered to be capable enough, experienced, and trained in the critical response activities necessary to respond to a national disaster should it be required.
And, very sadly, it’s looking as if this could be imminent with Hurricane Irene.
My hat is now “officially in the ring” so to speak, for national deployment – and depending on Irene’s course and resulting destruction, I may be called to deploy for a couple of weeks in September or beyond, somewhere along the East Coast. I just hope that I will be able to serve well and make a contribution.
Ironically (?) one of the functions I was encouraged to be available to serve in may involve the very stuff of, well, … the types of things I’ve been doing on this blog – they may in fact put me to work taking photos, doing some writing and PR-related work in the field. Public exposure for purposes of fundraising and to let the public know how the Red Cross is serving is a vital component for the organization during disasters, and there is a need for people with the appropriate skill set. Apparently they feel I could be useful in this capacity – with my camera, no less. Who knew? :-0
But if not serving with my camera, I am also ready to serve in Mass Care and Client Casework – activities that really hit home for me, especially after working during the tornados.
I truly hope that Irene will decide to change course and head far out into the Atlantic. I hope that the artist’s house, Sea Rider, and all of the places I love along Cape Hatteras will be spared major devestation – along with the rest of the East Coast. But if Irene should arrive, and if I am called, I will be honored to serve – in whatever capacity I can help with the most. I’m a little bit nervous, but I am ready and willing.
And a reminder to all of us: please be prepared, no matter where you live. Please – be Red Cross Ready: make a plan, have a kit, stay informed.
So my youngest is of the unwavering opinion that Cadel Evans is actually Luke Skywalker’s twin …
Hmmmm?? While I remain faithful to the Schlecklet camp, it is worth pondering … ? 😉
“Stopped they must be; on this all depends. Only a fully-trained Jedi Knight, with the Force as his ally, will conquer Vader (and the Alpe-d’Huez).” ~Yoda
Just when you think you have gotten “over the hump” – the wrecked car, the tornados, all of the crappy stuff of recent weeks … When vacation time has arrived, and you are ready for a much-needed break and a week of bicycle adventuring – and then the unpredictable forces of the universe strike again, and you can only feel like you are on the losing team in the current competition.
At the end of May, our oldest son Mason left for a summer physics research internship at Vanderbilt University in Nashville. We were thrilled that he was chosen for such a great opportunity, and he was excited to have the chance to spend his summer doing research with Dr. David Ernst (theoretical/computational physics, neutrino oscillation) and earning money at the same time. It was a win-win.
With his books and bicycle in tow, he was off to a great start at Vanderbilt – absorbed in his work, enjoying new friendships with his professor and the team of researchers he was working with, exploring the city by bicycle during his hours off.
At home, Mark and I were packed up, excited and ready for our cycling vacation. We were heading to Missouri to spend a week riding across the state on the Katy Trail – a trip I have wanted to take for several years, but we had never managed to get planned and scheduled until this summer. It was not to be.
Got a jumbled phone call from the ER of Vanderbilt Hospital on Thursday night, the 16th. One of Mason’s friends told us that they had been playing a game of Ultimate Frisbee on campus, and Mason had been “clocked” in a collision during play. He had been knocked out, but was now conscious; had suffered a concussion and they were going to perform the routine head CT. Later we learned he also had a shattered nose along with some chipped teeth – all of the information being very difficult to come by, given HIPA regulations, the fact that he was over 18, and complicated by his current lack of mental clarity – he wasn’t initially lucid enough to give permission to release information to us. As a parent, it was agonizing.
We finally were able to speak with the attending doctor who assured us that there was no brain bleeding, and that felt it would be safe to release him with his room-mates looking after him through the remainder of the night and until we could get there.
So, to condense the story … we’ve spent the better part of the last 4-5 days in Nashville. Mason had surgery at Vanderbilt on Monday to “repair” his nose, and he continues to improve each day from the concussion – which has, truthfully, been the most disconcerting part of the whole ordeal. We know that there are expected side-effects – loss of memory, difficulty in concentration, mood swings – all of which should improve over time. It’s just difficult to see him struggling with “the foggy feeling” he’s experiencing, along with some short-term memory problems.
We brought him home yesterday for the remainder of the week. Hoping that he will be feeling significantly better and recovered enough to return to Nashville and to begin to resume/continue his work at Vanderbilt next week.
We also brought his bicycle home to stay for a while. I know he’s really disappointed that he won’t be able to be riding, but he also understands that it’s just too risky, given his head injury. For now, all we can do is look forward to getting back on the bike when it’s safe to do so.
Finally … Dear Universe: Please give us a break for a while, ok?
Genus Magicicada, Brood XIX – The Great Southern Brood of the 13-year cicada variety … they are here in the millions. “Cicadapocalypse”, as one of the boys calls it. I honestly can’t remember seeing them this prolific before; the throbbing noise in the trees outside almost borders on being painful to the ear. You can’t walk across the driveway or sidewalk without crunching underfoot. Dropping out of trees, landing on your head, your shoulder, and screeching in your ear.
Riding a bike through their erratic swarming masses is like being pelted with, well … very big bugs.
Still, I am fascinated by them – and I love going out and standing under the trees to watch them. Their tenacity, their big red eyes, even the pulsating noise that drowns out everything else. And despite their scary looks, they are gentle and fairly docile when they land on you (once you get past the scratchy feeling of their grasping little legs). After spending 13 years underground, the’ve emerged with joy (?) to find a mate and to complete the cycle. And I wonder where I will be and what I will be doing when their progeny arrive?
It may be a good reminder: to love much and make all the noise you can while you’re here and have the chance? 😉