Tuesday, May 30, 2006


We had a Memorial Day family picnic (4 generations) at son Jon's house yesterday. He and his wife Jamie put a whole pork shoulder into their smoker on the deck for hours. Steve and I were there all day, just hanging out. At one point Jon, who is a professional firefighter, looked out the kitchen door and said casually, "Uh-oh, rug's on fire." And it was. Some grease or something had spattered and the indoor-outdoor rug under the smoker was in flames. Jon sounded as excited as if he'd said, "Uh-oh, dog spilled her water." He just went easily out the kitchen door, turned on the hose, put out the fire, and came back inside to his beer and the conversation. They finished smoking the meat and put it on the grill to brown for an hour or so. My dog Journey, who was tied out back under the apple tree and who had been quiet all day (still trying to find the route to China, it turned out) suddenly set up this frenetic barking. I yelled at her to shut up, but Jamie said thoughtfully, "She sounds upset. Maybe the grill's on fire." It was. Flames all over the place. Jon had left the hose there from his own firefighting effort, so Jamie turned it back on and doused the grill. I said, "You guys sure take crises casually around here." Even Journey was freaking out -- "Hey! People! You've Had This Great-Smelling Meat Cooking All Day And IT'S ON FIRE!!!!" Jamie said, "No big deal... the hose was right there. People wonder why Abbie takes everything in stride.... guess she gets it from being our kid."

Actually it may come from being our grandkid. When we were raising our kids, I remember things like.... "Knock, knock.... yawn... Daddy... yawn..... there's a bat in my room. Yawn." A kid coming into the kitchen, pouring herself a glass of water, taking a swallow, "Mom... Jonathan fell out of the tree onto the rake." Swallow. Me, taking bread out of the oven: "Which way was the rake pointing?" Kid: "Up." Swallow. Me, buttering tops of bread: "Is he bleeding? Is he crying?"


I don't look like the trainer here but I'm eager to start the job. Maybe I'll look like that by the end of the summer. (Are those girls twins? Is the guy the trainer or is he looking at her boobs? Or both?) The owner/manager said, "Well, you've got cherself a job. I was kinda hoping no one else would apply." I thought, "Well then, why didn't you take the sign down after you talked to me??" But anyway. They're going to call me about coming in for a little training, and then I'll get to sit there 15-20 hours a week and watch guys work out in their spandex and tank tops, and I'll get to work out, too, as much as I want as long as the work's done. Too cool!!

Sunday, May 28, 2006


I'm headed out for an 18-mile run, and I could post this story when I post later about my run, but if I die out there you won't ever hear about this, and it sure brightened my day.

In church this morning, the choir was singing something, and when they finished and were taking their seats, this little kid, 2 or 3 years old, who had obviously been waiting politely until the music was done so he wouldn't interrupt, confessed aloud, "I was bad. I didn't poop in the potty."

Well, when people think back on today's service to determine what, if anything, they remember from it, this kid's contribution will win hands down. Everyone on his side of the church was chuckling, trying not to laugh uproariously, and the deacon in charge of the agenda at the pulpit opened and closed his mouth a couple times, apparently trying to decide whether to say something or not, and finally just let it pass and said, "We'll now accept your tithes and offerings."

I'm going out running now.

Run report:

Well, it was, in general, your basic dreary boring final long run before a marathon... I took it slow and made stops every half-hour or so, so that Journey could get into the lake for a drink and a swim. She veered off at a place she knew to be a pit-stop place, through some bushes, a place I'd chosen before because it's across the cove from docks where people and/or dogs are likely to be. So I let her off the leash, she ran through the bushes to the lake, and the next thing, I heard splashing and quacking and more splashingand quacking, and thought, oh, great, Ms. Wildlife Rescue's dog has taken out a duck. When I sighted her she was halfway across the lake in hot pursuit of said duck which kept making futile attempts to take off from the water and fly -- she must have injured the darn thing. Journey swam and swam and the duck swam and tried to lift off until it came to a dock, which it neatly flew right over. Journey must have started out near its nest and it did the old injured-wing lead-the-predator-away-from-the-next trick. So it flew over the dock, and Journey got out of the water ONTO the dock, where a couple with a yellow Lab were sun-bathing, and ran right up to them, this sopping wet mutt shaking cold water all over them. I'm across the lake helplessly watching all this. Their Lab went up to her and they introduced themselves in that quaint way dogs have. The duck must have decided the threat was gone and flew back over the dock towards its nest, and the chase was on again. Journey ran off the dock to shore (couldn't bring herself to jump off the dock, although she made a couple false tries, with her eye on the duck), splashed back into the water and after the duck, which started its "Help, a dog is after me and I can't fly" routine again leading Journey away from the nest, out into the middle of the lake again and away from me. It took 10 darn minutes for the intrigue to wear off the duck, whereupon Journey simply did a u-turn, abandoned it, swam ashore to me, shook, and was ready to run again. The duck swam back to its nest, quacking a bunch of 4-letter words and giving Journey obscene gestures with its ruffled feathers. This was about mile 11 of 18.

Other than that, your basic dreary boring last long run before a marathon...

Saturday, May 27, 2006


Well, actually I've got one accomplishment down today, and it wasn't even planned: I re-organized all my computer bookmarks, and now maybe my computer will be more manageable. A lot of them were my husband's before I inherited this antique laptop from him when he got his cool new one.

  • What I need to do:
    *Find my mother an insurance policy
    *Report on said policy to my uncle, her financial advisor (actually I worked on that for a couple hours last night and again this morning)
    *Finish marking trail-blazers and repairing trail maps on the park's hiking trails
    *Bathe my dog
    *Walk said dog around campground teaching her not to bark at other dogs
    *Clean my 2-room RV mansion
    *Run 18 miles
  • *Go grocery shopping
  • *Go to the laundromat
  • *Get off this computer and go do some of it....

You can probably see I tried to make a bulleted list and screwed it up.

I am really tired. Swam and biked yesterday after a week of no exercise due to another urinary-tract infection, which knocked me flat for 2 days. In fact, my bike ride was my return trip from the dr's office, since my husband needed the truck and had dropped my bike and me off at the doctor's. It was OK to exercise.... I've been on medicine for a week, and just needed a recheck.

UPDATE, 8pm:

I didn't do any of it. I went to sleep. Maybe I'm still knocked flat.

Thursday, May 25, 2006


Wow! Our daughter-in-law works out at a gym near here and reported to me last night that they have a Help Wanted sign on their door. So this morning I went over and talked to the assistant manager. They want a receptionist/cleaning person/someone-to-be-there, hopefully someone who's at least mildly interested in fitness and might be able to communicate with customers, maybe even help folks get the machines started. She gave me an application, which I filled out as we talked (2 workout-freak chicks talking about a gym, one of them filling out an app... how good does it get?) She told me to come back this evening to talk to the owner/manager, which I did.

He said... everything looks great and he can't see why they shouldn't hire me except.... I'm overqualified and he can't afford me. I told him I didn't expect to earn what I did as a nurse.

I told him Kris (the assistant) had already told me it was minimum wage and that he probably noticed on my app that I'm RETIRED from nursing. I'm thrilled to do laid-back paying job that's down my athletic alley.

I think they couldn't get much luckier than to have a marathoner-triathlete-unemployed-nurse person come in and apply for a 15-20 hr/week position to answer the phone, show people how to use the machines, clean the locker rooms, machines and tanning bed, and, oh, yeah, be able to tell if someone is having a heart attack and knows what to do if someone passes out. And wants a non-demanding job she can do around her Ironman training.

Plus I'd get free use of the facility. You can even work out while working, if it's not real busy, as long as you get off the machines to check people in and don't hog the treadmill if customers want it. And if I'm done working out, I can read or watch TV or whatever, as long as I pay attention to who's coming in and make sure everything's going along like it should.

I told the guy I didn't know about his take on it but as far as I could see, the job and I couldn't be much better for each other.

He's going to see if they get any other bites over the weekend (I'm the first and only so far) and let me know either way on Tuesday.

What do you wanna bet he's holding out for someone younger? And I could never prove it... he'd just claim it was the "overqualified" thing.

Just because I'm a nurse doesn't mean I'm above cleaning bathrooms. It beats emptying bedpans.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006


A rare privilege.... saw this exquisite little animal today while I was cleaning blown-down branches and other winter stuff off the hiking trails.

Rare but.... at this time of year around here, not so rare. There have been several reports of fawn sightings throughout the park and even the campground. The thing is, they're so adorable, people stoop down and pet them, and go get the kids to come see it, and keep coming back to see if it's still there, and report (or bring) it to the park office as abandoned or sick.

It was so sweet and tiny and still.... I wanted so desperately to pet it and feel what a live fawn feels like. We had some die last year because people did just that, or harassed it as described above, and the does were unable to retrieve them.

So I printed up a poster, with this same photo at the top and the following text (with spaces between the lines... can't get those to publish right):

This is the time of year that does are having fawns.
You might see one lying by itself in the woods.
It is not abandoned.
It is not hurt.
It is hiding.
Its mother is hiding nearby and will come to get it, if you will go away and leave it alone.
If you stay there, or keep coming back, or play with it, the mother will not come for it and it will die.

The campground director asked if I could print out a bunch of them to post in the restrooms, bulletin boards, and trailheads. I hope it helps.


Anyone need fence-post holes dug?

I just wanted to record Journey's accomplishment for posterity... in case the numbers don't publish clearly, that's 16.5 inches (41.9cm.)

Now I have to go fill it in before someone steps in it and breaks their leg.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006


Look who I found swimming in Abbie's wading pool outside our front door. He wasn't havingany fun, though. He was moving slowly, taking "float" breaks, obviously exhausted after swimming for quite a while. I lifted him out. He wasn't alive by much. He lay on his side gasping slowly, his eyes closed. He felt cold. I brought him indoors, dried him off, wrapped him in a washcloth, and sat in front of the ceramic heater (shown) with him. After a few minutes I unwrapped him. He was breathing better and had started shivering, but still just lay there with his eyes closed. I wrapped him up and held him in front of the heater some more. When I next unwrapped him, I put him on he floor. He stood for a couple seconds, then fell over on his side, and his four little paws swam slowly, which broke my heart... he thought he was still in the water :-( I wrapped him up and warmed him some more. He started keeping his eyes open, looking at me. I set him on the floor again and he didn't fall over, but didn't move and was still shivering. I held him on my lap a few more minutes, stroking him with my finger; he was so still and accepting and sweet, I briefly pondered trying to keep him as a pet. Then he tried to run away. When I tried to wrap him up to restrain him, cheeky little bugger bit me. (Quite a young chipmunk, no skin break.) So much for the pet idea. He's a wild animal. I considered him cured, managed to wrap him without getting bitten again, and took him outside. He ran bristling up the arm of my jacket and hid underneath its collar. I had to take my jacket off and shake it out to get rid of him. He ran off as if the cat were after him. Total recovery, apparently.

Thursday, May 18, 2006


I went to town for grocery shopping, and after I got on the road I realized I'd left the laundry at home and thus wouldn't have to go to the laundromat. I decided then to make it MY day, take a mental-health day. I had already told my mother I wouldn't be coming until tomorrow -- to sort, clean, cope -- planned for today integrating a 15-mile bike to and from. My quads are sore and I'm taking a rest day. My coach approves. 
At the library I looked for the "Total Immersion" DVD, which wasn't available, there or anywhere in the Maryland library system, but I found a set DVD's of "Remington Steele" -- anyone remember that show, with Pierce Brosnan and Stephanie Zimbalist? The set has ALL the episodes. I used to watch that show, sip straight Crème de Cacao or peach brandy, and sigh. It was my one hour of "me" time each week. The kids were 2, 6, and 9 at the time and they knew that only if the house was on fire could Mommy be interrupted during "Remington Steele" although they could watch it quietly with me if they wished. I've already watched the pilot episode and part of the second one. I can keep it a week.
I browsed around Super Wal-Mart just seeing what they had. I tried on "Athletic Works" running shoes (lousy, what did I expect at Wal-Mart.) I went back and forth, back and forth, comparing pillows on one side of the store with fiberfill to make my own on the other. I walked slow. When I thought of something I wanted to look at I went and looked at it. I took a bathroom break. I took my time, which I never get to do when Steve is along, because we set a time to stop and it's never enough for me to do more than grab a few things.
I found non-prescription bifocals -- clear glass w/ a magnifying bifocal section in the usual place -- which I love. No more reading glasses hanging around my neck on a string, putting them on, taking them off about every 45 seconds. And as long as I was being dorky with bifocals, I took dorky to the nth degree with clip-on sunglasses for them. Now I can ride my bike and see both where I'm going and the numbers on my bike computer. They don't wrap around for side protection but things don't usually hit my eyes from the side when I'm on the bike. I'm happy as a clam. I don't mind wearing glasses as long as they don't distort my eyes or my vision like my nearsighted ones.... my contacts are -7.00, so my glasses are Coke-bottle-bottoms. I'm going to wear these all the time, along with my contacts. I am so comfortable with them. They only had "men's" frames but they have the "aviator wire-rims" look that was hot in the late 60's. I can live with that. Takes me back.
I got fluffy fiberfill and a sheet, sewed the sheet into a large sack, filled it with the fiberfill and now I have a fluffy mattress-topper for my side of the bed. I haven't been able to get comfortable since we moved into this camper (2 years) because the damn mattress (on a platform bed with hidden storage underneath) is so hard. We've gotten an "eggcrate" foam topper, and a memory-foam topper, but it's still hard. I tried my creation on the bed and it's like lying on a cloud, cliché I know, but it's lovely. I need a couple more bags of fiberfill to make it perfect but it's wonderful already.
I just hung around and looked at stuff. I compared prices, colors, ready-made vs. do-it-myself, read labels, and otherwise lollygagged as much as I wanted.
At the non-Wal-Mart drug store I got new Spenco insoles for my running shoes. My metatarsals have been aching.
I am not training today. 30-mile bike (to Mom's and back) was scheduled but I skipped it. I am not shoveling ashes out of fire pits. I am not looking at insurance policies for the elderly. Tomorrow I'll do my swim, which energizes and relaxes me, then DRIVE from the pool to Mom's, help her clean, fill a prescription for her, and while I'm up there see if I can get my 2 other bags of the same fluffy fill for my mattress-topper at the craft store near her.
This is a total mental-health day. I am not doing anything I "have" to do. Maybe now that the sewing machine is out and Abbie is not here I'll do the pockets and alterations I've been wanting to get to. I am so relaxed just doing "me" stuff. I've got a shot of Captain Morgan's Spiced Rum in peach-flavored sparkling water. All I need now is a good thunderstorm to top the day off perfectly.
Have no thought for tomorrow, for tomorrow will have woes of its own. This is my day, with NOTHING going on.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

HRM Questions

When you first started training with a HRM:

Did you learn you'd been training at a much higher rate than you thought, and higher than you should be?

When you slowed down to keep your appropriate HR, did you feel you'd slowed to a shuffle? I am running the lowest training paces of my entire life trying to keep my rate down (usually 130-140 on easy runs, as advised by my coach, whom I trust very much.)

Did your pace on normal or easy training runs change? Faster or slower?

Eventually did you become able to maintain a higher pace at a lower HR?

Does your HRM ever show outrageous momentary or max rates that make you wonder WTH?? I've wondered if: I threw some double or triple beats w/o feeling them; or if my ID dog-tag whapping against the chest sensor was being interpreted as beats (I've been hanging it down my back since then); or if there was some other kind of interference when you weren't near any power lines? Or if in fact your HR was over 200 at some point?

I haven't really seen 1140; I messed with the picture in PhotoShop to be cute :-) I have seen over 200. If I saw it when it was happening (as opposed to a recorded max at the end), a manual pulse check yielded a non-lethal rate like 150 or 160. And it didn't seem to change my average rate (which I do manage to keep within the parameters even though my max often goes over.) That's why I'm wondering about the dog-tag whapping, or some other kind of artifact. Like when I've tried to use a pedometer, just the bouncing as I move gets counted as steps.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Swamped/Mom's Saga Continues

Why this is me today, even though my bike isn't loaded down like this:

My uncle, who is my mother's financial advisor, called me this morning to find out what I had done about the Medicare prescription supplement. I reported my accomplishment and he said it was expensive. I said he'd told me to find a plan and sign her up, and I'd found a plan and signed her up, and if he wasn't happy with it, he could un-sign her and start all over. I'd done the best I could, I'm not a financial wizard. He's pushing me to get her supplental health care under a new policy (he doesn't like the one he got for her) and now he wants me to find her a cheaper phone company as well. This is the problem with engaging a family member in any kind of professional capacity. It doesn't go the same as if you were not related. I guess I should put it this way: my uncle, who is pushing 80 himself, is asking me to share the task of getting my mother to an acceptable financial state. Plus, of course, I'm cleaning up her house. I don't think he knows that. And I think he thinks that as a retired 50-something I'm full of energy looking for a place to put it to use to keep from being bored.

That's the loaded panniers on the bike in the picture.

Bike ride: 1:30 easy recovery ride was scheduled. I did a route that comes out to about that and took it very easy, paying no attention to my current speed, average speed, or cadence, just doing whatever kept the ride effortless. The weather was awful. 47*F, windy, with some kind of water in the air... more than mist but less than drizzle. I'll call it mizzle. Yeah, that's it, a raw, mizzling day. I was supposed to do a flat course but we don't have any of those here. The route is 20.45 miles and it took me 1:33, so I've done my assignment for the day. I wasn't really cold on the bike (except my toes) but I can't get warm now. I had hot soup; I've got a sweatshirt on; I've got 2 electric heaters aimed at me, and a microwaveable hot pack on my feet. If you've read my posts of the last month, you'll understand (maybe) how extreme it is that I'm wearing a sweatshirt indoors.

I should go out and clean campsites, but I've got housework to do indoors that seems suddenly a lot more enticing than usual.

This business with my mom's financial/insurance stuff is weighing me down.

She wanted to go down to KY to the Hatfield-McCoy marathon with me, for fun. I told her yesterday that.... um.... that.... it's a 5-hr drive each way, and with helping her in and out of the truck for bathroom stops, and worrying about what and how she would be doing for the 5 hours I'm out on the course, and generally taking care of her, it would be more stress than I felt able to add to the driving down/running a marathon /driving home marathon I'd already have. She said she was fine with that but I felt awful. I still do. She loves to go to things like that with me but it's just getting.... well, I can't do that and run the marathon too. I feel so bad.

Monday, May 15, 2006


Remember that old show? Claire Danes's series as a teenager? My youngest daughter was a fan, and I enjoyed the show too, and was sorry when it was cancelled.

Anyway, even though I have been doing so many things my life has been taken over, I feel as if I'm not getting anywhere. And yet I am. Just like... what was Claire Danes's character's name in that show? Sheesh, I remember some of the other characters... Ricky (Enrique, the guy who wore eye makeup) and Sharon, Claire D.'s best friend.... who the heck was Claire's character?

This is a long post... you can get the Reader's Digest version by reading the colored highlights.

Saturday: 16.8-mile run, training for the Hatfield-McCoy Marathon, June 10. Slow. 3.5 hours. But I didn't get terribly tired, at least not until the next day.

After running, I talked to my uncle in Seattle for an hour and a half, about my mother's medical insurance (he's her "financial manager") -- what transpired could have been settled in 5 minutes. I said she needed prescription coverage. He said he knows nothing about medicine or prescriptions, he knows about finances... as her daughter and a nurse I should find a plan that seemed appropriate, sign her up, and he'll budget for the cost. Now why did that take an hour and a half??? I had an earache. I'm supposed to find her a new health-insurance plan, too, as a Medicare supplement. He doesn't like the one he got her a couple years ago. But I really wanted to get her on a prescription plan, so I spent nearly the whole weekend doing that.

After the long run and the long phone call, Steve and I went out to "jam" with a dulcimer group. That was 3 hours. It was the first time I've had my guitar out since Arizona, the middle of March. I got tired holding the guitar, strumming, changing chords fast, trying to keep up with these "authentic" dulcimer-players, here in the Appalachians... in Arizona, I see now, the players were just dabbling. Steve, the dulcimer-player, a relative beginner, had a hard time, too. So after that long day we finally got home about 11p.m. I was whupped. Then I worked some more on comparing Medicare-supportive prescription programs.

Sunday: More work on the Medicare thing. Then church, which is an hour and a half, not including driving. Time well-spent, though. After church, I retrieved from my files, edited, and printed several photos of granddaughter Abbie, as Mother's Day gifts for her mom, her mom's mom, and my mom. While they were printing, I worked more on the Medicare thing.

Then Mother's Day dinner at our son's house (granddaughter Abbie is his daughter), 4 generations of us. Jamie (daughter-in-law, Abbie's mom) wouldn't take any help. Jon cooked steaks on the grill and Jamie had made beer bread, garlic dip, twice-baked potatoes, macaroni salad, and homemade butter-pecan ice cream. I was hardly hungry after the great bread and dip. We stayed a long time. Jon played the guitar, Abbie played the fiddle (yes, Abbie played the fiddle... she has a 1/16 size real violin, and can draw the bow across the strings to produce a sound, a fair start for a 3-yr-old.) We were there a total of about 5 hours. I love my family, and had a wonderful time, but I still had Mom's prescription plan hanging over my head... there are several gazillion to compare and choose from, just impossible to narrow down. We went home around 8p.m., I narrowed it down to 2, picked one, and finally signed her up around 11p.m.

Today (Monday): In the morning, went with my mom to her doctor, to make sure we were all on the same page about her meds and conditions. At least the doctor and I.... mom not only is not on the same page, she doesn't even open the book, just reads the summary on the back. I've got to educate her on what her medicines are for. I had no idea, until she stayed with us in the Grand Canyon, how heedlessly she muddles through her entire health situation. So I'm getting it all straightened out. The doctor, bless his heart, spent an hour and 15 minutes with her, in 3 installments, seeing other patients while she dressed or undressed, whichever one was called for. His willingness to consider a patient this closely is why, when I stopped being his nurse, I became his patient. I wanted him for my doctor. It felt very strange to be in an exam room with him and a patient, and be sitting in the "extra" chair while another nurse assisted the doctor. I kept repressing an impulse to jump up and get something, do something, help with something.

After the doc was my swim workout, a scheduled 1500 yds in 45 minutes, but I accomplished 1638 yds (weird-size pool) in 40 minutes, and was very pleased.

After the swim was my run, 75 minutes at a slow pace (heart rate to be kept under 140, which I did most of the time). It was slower than I wanted to go, about 6 miles in that time. My new heart-rate monitor may well be the topic of another post.

And now I'm done for the day. I did not drive around the campground in my Kawasaki Mule shoveling out fire pits. I didn't do it yesterday or the day before, either. I did it Friday (hadn't been done in most of the 200 sites since we left last September, I concluded.) I'll do it tomorrow. No one seems to care. There are hardly any campers here yet, less than half a dozen at any one time. There are 2 other "work-camping" couples, but they haven't been assigned jobs yet, aren't sure what their roles are going to be. Steve isn't "work-camping;" he's working for pay as a seasonal ranger. SOMEONE better start helping me shovel ashes when it gets busy around here. I can't do 200 sites twice a week by myself, with incidental cleanups in between.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

MOM'S SAGA, first installment

I should have taken before-and-after pictures. I'll do that next time.

Rode my bike 15 miles to my mother's (a lot of hills and v-e-r-y rolling roads), ate lunch with her, spent 4 hours cleaning and sorting her stuff, and rode home. 2 hours of biking, 30 miles, and started on one of my summer projects: cleaning up Mom's house.

What did I do in 4 hours of working? Cleaned out a food cupboard and cleaned off a coffee table. Yup. Took 4 hours. The food cupboard... mostly throwing out. There were spices in there she had brought from Florida when she moved here in 1990. The coffee table.... there were music books, sheet music, and miscellany 18 inches high all over it. I sorted it into piano music, violin music, cello music, a folder of music manuscript, and catalogs. I threw out many music catalogs from 1994 on. I washed the plexiglass top of the table and cleaned the whole table with Pledge. Oh, yeah, I forgot, worked on getting the cat hair out of one of her sofas. I got a lot but there's a lot still there.

We were going to build a house this summer, on our son's property, for Mom to move into so she'd be right next door to them and they could check on her and help her out. But the financing fell through, and Mom is staying where she is for now. It's just as well...I didn't feel like building a house this summer anyway, and Mom likes her current house. She has afternoon music students Monday through Wednesday, so on those days she has people coming in. However, Thursday through Sunday, no one comes. She could fall and not be found. So we were thinking of hiring someone, doing interviews, etc., and then I remembered, "Isn't there a girl about middle-school age living next door to her?" There is. She's 14. Today I talked to her dad.... would she like a job? Visiting my mother briefly twice a day to make sure she's safe, and doing light housework a few hours a week? For at least minimum wage? She could keep a time sheet and record what work was done, and that would give her experience with self-scheduling and recordkeeping at a job. The dad said she might do it and he'd ask her about it.

Well, after I got home, I called my mom to let her know I hadn't been killed on the bike en route, and she said the neighbor girl had been to see her already, all excited, and had already made herself a timesheet on the computer. She's rarin' to start. I haven't met this girl yet but she apparently comes to see Mom already, now and then, just to chit-chat. Mom likes her. So all of a sudden I don't feel so awful about leaving the area again in September. Steve and I will have a talk with her about what's expected and what's not, make sure she's one to honor commitments (I think her dad would make sure she did but from what I hear, she does.)

I remember this girl's mother from way back. I was substitute-teaching at the high school during seniors' finals week, and I remember the principal telling me to keep an eye on a particular girl because she'd been out of school the last few weeks, pregnant, had had the baby just a day or two ago, and apparently wasn't feeling well, but was coming in to take her finals so she could graduate. Wow. She was thin, and pale, with circles under her eyes, and stringy hair, looked exhausted, had probably gotten out of the hospital that very day, and dragged herself in to take finals.

I have a feeling they've taught their daughter to be responsible.

Sunday, May 07, 2006


If I could be a flower....

This was the topic of the children's sermon at church this morning. The woman had a bouquet, with red roses, baby's breath, cat-tails, and a few leaves. She asked the kids, if they could be anything in the bouquet, what they'd like to be. Most wanted to be roses. One boy, maybe 10 years old, wanted to be "the little white ones, because they're the ones that get overlooked." I gave him a thumbs-up for that.

The woman went on to talk about cat-tails. About how the roots can be dug up, cooked, and eaten like potatoes. How the young stems can be cooked and eaten like asparagus. How even the "tails," which are actually the flowers, can be dried, ground up, and used like flour, or meal. The Indians even made medicine from it. ("You need medicine when you're sick," volunteered a boy of maybe 4.) About how it's a plant that's useful in all of its parts, unlike the rose, which is just for show, is all pretty, and smells good, but has thorns. ("You could use them for thumbtacks," offered the boy who favored baby's breath.) I thought about the edible petals which have only gone out of common use in the last century, and the vitamin C-rich berries, "rose hips," but this was for the kids, this was the sermonizer's show, plus I didn't want them going out and eating every flower in the garden. I also thought about cat-tails being used for flogging, truly a multi-tasking plant, but I let that pass, too. This was this speaker's message for the kids. Anyway, I don't know how many kids got converted from roses to cat-tails, but my mind kept going back to the baby's breath.

The astute young boy had said they're the ones that get overlooked. I'll bet he's the kid who befriends the new kid in school, sticks up for the class dork, helps the disabled kids without putting them down, and lets the teacher know when some kid didn't get their Weekly Reader. Add on what he said about the rose thorns, and you have a kid who is truly the friend of the underdog... no one's value goes unappreciated. I'd like to know this guy better.

Back to the baby's breath. I looked at the woman's bouquet and thought about what the boy had said, and how he probably lends a hand everywhere, and I thought about this unassuming little flower. Baby's breath. The one that isn't one bit showy but fills in all the gaps. The one that shows up for every occasion. The one that rounds out the whole. The one that makes everything shape up. The one that compensates for any number of deficiencies in the group. The one whose presence sets off all the others to their greatest advantage. The one that supports and enhances the "stars" in their roles. Without drawing any attention to itself, without being gaudy, or flashy, or fragrant, or conspicuous. And yet a mixed bouquet without baby's breath is just missing something. It lends integrity to the whole just by being there, even though it goes overlooked and unnoticed.

I want to be baby's breath.

Saturday, May 06, 2006


We've had 3-yr-old granddaughter Abbie since last evening. Her dad (our son) dropped her off last night. He and his wife both work weird hours; she's a night-shift nurse and he's a firefighter-paramedic who works 24 hours in the station and then has 48 hours off. More often than not, Abbie's at home with one or both of them, although since turning 3 she goes to Head Start every day during the week. Anyway, last night and today Abbie's been here. She is totally OK with having other people take care of her. Seems totally confident that she'll be fine and that someone will give her lunch.

But she occasionally does or says things that show she misses her parents after all. She doesn't talk much... some of my readers know, but many don't, that Abbie has Down Syndrome. She's delayed in some ways but not in others. One of her delays is speech. She says a few words and uses a lot of American Sign Language. This morning she saw a red truck like her dad's driving past in the distance, pointed to it and asked, "Daddy?" Hoping that was him, coming to pick her up.

I went running for a couple hours while my husband cared for Abbie. When I got home, she was ready for a nap. I got under the quilt with her on our bed and recited "The Golden Egg Book" several times (from memory... I've been through a lot of toddlers) till she went to sleep. I ate/refueled and checked some email, then decided to get a shower while Abbie was still sleeping. But the shower in our RV is in the bedroom, and I made noise opening the glass door. Abbie sat up like a shot, still 80% asleep, and asked foggily, hopefully, "Daddy?" I lay down with her again, telling her it was just Grandma making noise but Daddy would be coming soon. She turned onto her side towards me, put her little arm around my neck to scooch close to me, kept her arm there, kissed me, and went back to sleep, having not even fully awakened.

She expects Daddy to come for her, wants him to come, looks forward to his coming, remembers even in her sleep that he's supposed to come.... but is totally content to snuggle up to Grandma and sleep some more. She is one of the most affectionate and by far the most adaptable child I've ever met.

Lying with small grandchildren over the years as they've gone to sleep, I've always flashed back to lying in the exact same way with my own small children, and marvelled at the wonder, the miracle, the astonishing privilege, of now lying thus with their children, and that these children love and trust me enough to snuggle to me and sleep.

Life is good.

Friday, May 05, 2006


OK, all my athlete/runner/biker/swimmer/triathlete friends, you gotta go here:


Disclaimer: Not for prissy-pants, prudes, or the faint of heart. You have been warned. Please sign here:

Signature____________________________________ Date ________________

I swear, it gave me a hot flash. And I swear, that's what it was, it was a hot flash, yeah, that's what it was. I mean, I get 2 or 3 an hour, what's the big deal?

Dang, I can be a good writer when I put my mind to it. Why can't I write stuff like this guy????

Thursday, May 04, 2006


Started off cleaning the inside of our truck. It was a mess. You know what? I've tried just about every gizmo advertised and sold for removing pet hair from upholstery but you know what works better than anything else I've found? A damp washcloth. Amazing.

Next was my coach-scheduled 20-mile ride. I planned an out-and-back but, my out-trip being uncomfortably hilly, it dawned on me that the same route back would also be uncomfortably hilly, so I took a hilly route to a flatter final 4 miles, photo. This is a relatively flat road around here. Next time I'll shoot a hilly one. It was a good ride, bringing my total for the year to 852.4 miles and putting me within a hundred miles or so of leaving Nevada and crossing the Utah state line.

Then, after a PB/banana sandwich, on to my "job" -- cleaning campsites. I don't think they've been cleaned since Steve and I left last September. Luckily, they haven't been used much either.

I get this cool Kawasaki Mule to drive around in. Steve and I did it together last year, but this year he's a "seasonal ranger" (next thing to a white-collar job) and I'm on camp-host-cleanup myself. Well, not alone.... I'm going to be known as "that woman who always has that black dog with her." Journey liked riding in the Mule once she got used to it. I like the Mule, too. It goes over logs, through ditches, everywhere.... the woodland version of the dune buggy.

Here's the backside of the Mule, after I cleaned about a dozen fire rings. I carry an ash can, a trash can, a shovel, leaf rake, garden rake, and broom. See the firewood? I collected it from sites where campers had left it. I could have left it for the next campers, but that wouldn't be fair to those who have to buy theirs... or to the local guy who makes a little extra cash cutting and selling firewood. The rule for staff is, finders-keepers. So I unloaded all this firewood next to our own fire ring, then drove the Mule down to the ash-dumping place, pulled out the screwdriver holding the transom on (the cotter pins disappeared long ago), pulled the ash can off while simultaneously dumping it upside down on the pile, dumped my trash, swept out the Mule, and put it and all the tools away. I only did about 25 sites... there are 200 here. It's going to get tough when more people start coming. However, another campground worker is supposed to be coming, too, and the 2 of us will split it, or the park maintenance guys may do some of it.

Long, busy day. I'm a little tired. Tomorrow is a 45-minute ride, then take my bike to the shop for a spring tune-up, then more campsite-cleaning. Saturday is long-run day, 15 miles. My Hatfield-McCoy Marathon is only 5 weeks away.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006


Wow! I went to Goodwill for the required icky-green pants ($6 for long, $3 for shorts) but also got 2 nice new jeans, $6 each, and this running skirt for $4 -- not what it was made for but it's going to be great, especially with the pockets I'm going to put on from a pair of lycra tights I got just for the fabric ($3). It hits me just about mid-thigh. Here's my hot, flashy, girlie running skirt, with things I already have:

With sport bra from Wal-Mart

This is the top to a triathlon set, bikini bottom has bike-padding (set was $14.99 brand-new w/ tags on eBay.) Not quite as good a match but I might put sky-blue ribbon trim around the waist or something.

With one-piece tri-suit, not quite as cheap ($30) on eBay

Would I wear a skirt in a tri? Well, yeah. Skirts are so much cooler than shorts. And my tri-suits and/or tri-bottoms have bike-padding, like I said. Quick and easy transition outfit.

Plus, I often run in tri-suits or swimsuits with shorts or a short skirt pulled on over them.

Geez, I might have to get my bike painted sky-blue/and royal.

I love Goodwill. I also got a bright-red rain jacket, good for bumming around the campground cleaning on rainy days, or for stashing in my backpack, or in my (bright red) kayak.


We are back in Maryland!! Hallelujah!!! Our location is Deep Creek Lake State Park for the whole summer. So, anyone coming this way.... give a holler! It's a very popular vacation spot. Daytime temps rarely over 80*, rural roads for biking and running, a big lake for swimming, boating, kayaking, water-skiing, fishing.

So we are "settled," but... sigh, the Time Crunch has hit again. I've got so many projects and to-do's I can't see where to start. Today.... I need to go to Goodwill (about 18 miles each way) and get shorts and long pants to wear as a Park staff member... they give us shirts but we're supposed to find our own pants. They're supposed to be sort of olive green (the color my college roommate in 1969 called "diarrhea green") and I am not going to a clothing store and pay $$$ for them when I hate the color and can get them for a couple bucks at Goodwill.

Today also, I want to put my new cadence computer on my bike. I also need to wash/clean/lube said bike. It needs a tune-up and I don't want to take a dirty bike for a tune-up. I'm supposed to run 40 minutes. I need to clean up our trailer. I need to vacuum.

I need to start sorting through my photo files and printing some frameable ones, matting them and framing a couple, for display and hopefully sale at the local artists' gallery; art exchange day is May 12. I need to make the photo t-shirts I've planned for my mother's birthday present (her BD was April 17....)

I'll be "making rounds" of 200+ campsites every day for PR, anyone-need-anything?, reminders to store food inside on account of bears and raccoons, reminders to put bike helmets on kids and leashes on dogs, handing out leave-no-trace and clean-up-your-dog's-poop trash bags, and whatever else comes up. Thank goodness hardly anyone's here yet.

I need to get off of here to start getting some of at least today's stuff done. I was going to make a list, but I just read online about a woman who printed out her "to do" list and it turned out to be 15 pages long. Forget it.... that would be guaranteed to bring on hot flashes in clusters. And no, they are not Power Surges.... they do not spur you to any action or ambition other than to open the freezer and slap a bag of frozen peas on your face and stuff another one down your shirt.

I do, however, think it would be funny to wear, in races/marathons, instead of my first name across my shirt, a name tag that says "Hot Flash." I think people yelling, "Go, Hot Flash!!" would be very empowering! Especially if I dress in something hot and flashy. Guess that excludes my cutoffs.