Friday, December 23, 2011


Yesterday at my party, my husband asked our son's girlfriend's 3-yr-old daughter, "Whose birthday is it today?" She beamed and answered, "Jesus!" We all chuckled, and I told her, "Not quite yet. My birthday is 3 days before Jesus' birthday." Our son-in-law explained, "Yeah, Grandma's 3 days older than Jesus!"

 While I was biking yesterday, I rode past the house where two fast, barking, growling, snapping dogs always chase me aggressively. The Australian Cattle Dog gallops 2 inches beside me snapping at my feet while the larger dog, some kind of mutt, snaps at my front wheel 2 inches ahead of me, teamwork maybe, I'll get the bike down and you can grab her leg. Yesterday, I decided to call their bluff (hoping it was a bluff.) I slowed down and unclipped right in their driveway and asked them reproachfully, "What is your problem? What do you think you're doing?" They stopped immediately. The big one turned away and hung his head. I held my hand out to the cattle dog and I swear he shrugged his shoulders in a "What can I say?" gesture, then slowly approached with a look that was shy and friendly. Then a car passed and he started barking again, apparently unwilling to let the driver see him being non-aggressive. So I'm not going to try to outride them anymore. I'll stop, pet them, and send them home.

On to the first day of my seventh decade. No biking today. The roads are wet and the temperature has dropped 20 degrees from yesterday. I think I'll bake cookies.

Thursday, December 22, 2011


So now I'm actually 60.

I did 60 push-ups and biked 60k. Thought about running for 60 minutes as well, but then thought, nah, I've done enough, I'm 60, for petesake!

Great dinner party, put on by my husband, good deli food and an ice cream cake and adult beverages :-)  AND he gave me a big fat gift certificate to REI. Son Jon and his gf Daphne gave me this photo, matted and framed, from SavageMan 2009 (my first SM completion.)

 It was a great birthday!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011


Yup. Me. Tomorrow.

I'm definitely not going to run 60 miles to celebrate, or 60k. Sixty minutes, well, I'm a little out of shape coming back from my ankle injury..... I could do 60 minutes if I throw in a walk every now and then. I could bike 60k, maybe. Not 60 miles, that would take me 5 hours and leave me pretty darn tired for dinner with family.

Aha!!! Sixty push-ups!! Yes, I can, if I do them in sets.

I could read Psalm 60. And the 60th chapter of any of the books in the Bible that go that far.

Or I could go to confession and get 60 Our Father's and 60 Hail Mary's. (I'm not Catholic but I used to be and the most I ever got was 3 of one or the other.)

When I turned 50, I had an epiphany. I had lived half a century and was older than a good many people, and by golly they'd better show respect. Hey, folks, I'm playing it like I mean it now.... no more tiptoeing around hoping I don't screw up. I'm all grown up and I'm putting my foot down solid you better listen to what I say.

I kept that for a couple years.

Maybe I should turn 50 again.

Sixty, well actually I'm doing can't really tell by looking at me, but I do in fact do push-ups, and I bike and I run and I do yoga and I hike. A person might not picture me riding my bike up The Wall and then continuing up Big Savage Mountain without "weaving" like some of the riders in the photos (if you clicked on the link.) I ride it straight. And they don't usually expect a 60-year-old woman to put on a 30-pound backpack and hit the Appalachian Trail.

I'll look a physical challenge right in the eye. It's the psychological ones that still throw me for a loop. And I still don't know what I want to be when I grow up.

Sunday, December 18, 2011


I'm thinking about a new template for my blog. It might help motivate me.
Maybe I need a new template for my life.
I need to get my Bible out  more often. When things aren't working right, it's good to check the instruction manual. I need a tune-up.

Today the few kids (like, 4) in our church put on a really nice pageant. There aren't enough of them to have done a manger scene, which I thought was good..... everyone does that, it was good to have something different. Each one read a passage from the story we all know from the Gospel of Luke. The youngest reader was 7 and perhaps the best reader of the group. After each reading, one of the kids placed one of the figures in the table-size Nativity scene, and then there would be a song about that part of the story. After the  the angel appearing to Mary, and the placing of Mary in the creche, Savannah, who's 12,  sang "Mary, Did You Know?" a capella. She has a strong, lovely, country-bluegrassy style that I love to listen to. Adults also did some of the vocal selections, including an a capella trio of two other ladies and me.  We had agreed on one of the less-usual melodies, but the lady singing the melody got confused and sang yet a different one (we hadn't rehearsed at all), and the two of us on harmony tried to wing it and follow her, and she got confused and followed my descant so I dropped down to her melody, and it was kind of a comedy of errors but we kept on singing without letting on. After church the three of us laughed like crazy. After our unprecedented rendition, the congregation sang a couple of carols accompanied by their hesitant pianist, me, and then Savannah finished up with Silent Night, again a capella, and again I marveled at the power of this ingenuous young girl's talent. I hope, if she takes voice lessons, some opera singer doesn't get hold of her and take away that old-timey twang that makes her singing so special.

Saturday, December 17, 2011


 Actually it's my grown (?) son.

Hijacked this from his Facebook page, but I took the picture.

Friday, December 16, 2011


The temperature is just above freezing outdoors, less in the shade where there's unmelted ice. I got all bundled up in my bike clothes, factoring in sweat-wicking because uphill is hard work, and windbreaking because downhill is fast and cold after sweating uphill, and what about my feet, will I ever learn how to keep them warm, and...... with my tires all pumped up and the bike standing beside the front door, I gazed out the window and said, "Do I really want to do this?"

I have had frozen feet every single ride, can't seem to get a handle on it. And after a ride one day last week, I  felt cold the rest of the day, despite hot tea, a fleece blanket, and a heating pad under my feet. 

And I put the bike back, took off the layers of clothes, got dressed all over again, put my dog on the leash, and went running. It was SO nice to be lightly dressed and still be warm, enough that within 10 minutes I'd taken off my gloves and unzipped my jacket. And so nice to have my dog along.

So I might or might not make my impulsive goal of 1,000 miles on my new bike by the end of the year. I'm at 885 miles. If it warms up to, say, 40*F, I'll ride some more. And if I don't hit 1,000 miles in the next 2 weeks, I'll hit it next spring, and in the meantime I won't be getting salt and ice-treating road grit all over my bike, and I'll be warm. 

Monday, December 05, 2011


The new bike my mother gave me in August has 794 miles on it now. I'm wondering whether I can get in 1,000 by the end of the year. But it's December in Garrett County, MD, and although we've been enjoying unseasonably warm weather in the last month, tomorrow is supposed to be rainy and mid-40'sF, and then not getting out of the 30's for at least the next 10 days. Some will be dry, though..... with proper layering, wool socks, or neoprene socks (I got some at Goodwill for $2), balaclava, knit gloves under my bike gloves, fleece jacket, and windproof jacket, maybe I can do this. Darn, I should have kept riding after the century ride I did Halloween weekend. Until yesterday I hadn't been on my bike since. I needed the break, though. I'm ready to ride again. Maybe it'll make me tough.

Friday, December 02, 2011


...considering that I am easing back in after a layoff and injury.
But I did, because I needed meditation time. I was personally upset by something someone said, and needed to work off some steam while I pondered how, or whether, to respond to the person, and how to respond within myself.

I went for 50 minutes, running 2/walking 5, total of 14 minutes of running and 36 of walking. I pondered and prayed. I was still angry and hurt when I got back, but my husband was using the computer, which I would have used to respond.

Killing time until I could get to the computer, I looked in the "Reader Helps" in my Bible, under "When Others Disagree with You," and read the passages.

In the end, I decided to let it go. This person has the right to their opinion and to freedom to express it. It probably was the result of experiences in that person's own life and was most likely not intended to have any effect on me.

My walk/run was 3.2 miles (in 50 minutes, big whoop!!), farthest I've gone in over a month, maybe 2. I restarted my pushups yesterday, too, at a lower level than previously. Yesterday's total was 36, in sets that went like this: 6, 8, 8, 6, 8. I messed up.... one of the 8's was supposed to be a 6. So I have 2 extra to my credit :-)

Thursday, December 01, 2011


After a layoff of 2 weeks following a couple months of not much running anyway, I'm returning to it.

Tuesday I did walk/run intervals: 5 minutes walking w/ my mother's dumb dog Woody and my own good dog Journey; then with just Journey I did 4 of run 5/walk 5, then run 1 more minute and walked the last 4 = 35 minutes total.

My quads were sore the next day.

Actually still a little sore today, but I went out and did the same, adding 1 minute to 3 of the runs. It went like this:
With Journey & Woody: walk 5.
Just Journey: run 6, walk 5; run 6, walk 5; run 5, walk 5; run 2, walk 3. Total 42 minutes.

We'll see how my quads do. And my ankles. I have not turned an ankle for almost a year, since I went to minimalist running shoes (Saucony Kinvara's). In these shoes, which aren't much more than an ultralight upper attached to an outsold with just a suggestion of midsole, my feet are more flexible and I can feel the surface I'm running on. If I step on something uneven, I feel it and correct my foot. In regular running shoes, by the time I realize my foot it turning, it's too late to correct it. Hiking boots are the same. In fact, my concern about my ankles now comes from having wrenched both of them a few weeks ago, backpacking in leather boots. Same thing: My foot couldn't tell where it was landing. So I'm returning my hiking boots (REI accepts returns with no time limit even if they're used) and planning to hike in my mini running shoes, or maybe even those Vibram 5-Finger "shoes." Seems like the less shoe I have, the better my feet are.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011


Ever feel that you should be blogging but you're so far behind on your life you can't possibly can't catch up?


It won't let me comment on anyone's page. I sign in on my own page and then when I go to someone else's, it says I'm not signed in. This is frustrating.

Monday, November 14, 2011


Well, that one didn't last long. After the soreness I did a couple more days and then started making excuses: I did planks in yoga class, my arms are stiff from biking, I need to run, etc. etc.

Going to start over at a lower level.

In so many things of late, I'm just finding it hard to push up off the ground.

Wednesday, October 05, 2011


I think I did too many pushups. I did them but I'm paying for them. I'm going to have to wait until the soreness goes away to continue on to Day 2!

Tuesday, October 04, 2011


one hundred push ups

That's my goal!

I did this a few years ago and got up to 46 consecutive pushups. Then, for some reason, I quit. Why did I do that?

Here's how it works:

You do an initial test, however many pushups you can manage before your form starts to deteriorate. It doesn't matter whether you manage 20, 10, or less than 1; there's a program level for you.

I was able to do 12 for my test, on Sunday. This put me at Level 3 of 7. You're supposed to rest your arms for a day between workouts, so I started my program today.

My first day's prescribed sets went like this: 10, 12, 7, 7, (rest 60 seconds between sets) and a final set to failure (at least 9 prescribed.)

 I thought this workout looked scary and considered starting at Level 2 (6, 6, 4, 4, 5+) but then decided that if I'd tested at Level 3 I'd try Level 3. Well....."Do or do not. There is no try." So I did. All the reps in all the sets, with my final set going up to THIRTEEN! Whoo! Total of ...... WHAT???? Forty-nine???? I did 49 pushups my first day???? Well, not consecutively, but I did 'em.

Yes, these are full-body straight-leg pushups, not from the knees.

Not bad for Grandma Hamilton. Even though I won't be 60 till December.

How many can you do?

Tuesday, August 30, 2011


My bike started giving me brake problems.... again. Brakes and gears have been giving me issues since last year. This time the brake pads were worn way down, but when I put new ones on, they didn't seem to be grabbing right. Hmmm, never replaced brake pads myself before, maybe I didn't do it right. I figured I could take it in to the shop, get them adjusted, and go riding from there.

It didn't happen that way. The reason my new brakes weren't working was that my wheel rims were so worn that the new pads weren't making contact properly. (I had put them on just fine.) What I needed was new wheels. The ones I needed were going to cost more than I could afford. Oh, and by the way, it looked like I was going to need a new front chainring set pretty soon, too, which was going to cost about the same as the new wheels.. In the meantime, to keep it running, they could sell me a cheaper set of wheels but my current ones, they said, weren't even safe. Ready to shred like one of those meat cans you open with a key, and you don't want that to happen while you're on the way down a hill at 35mph.

I could tell the inexpensive wheels didn't roll well. I didn't want them.... they would make everything harder. So, all bummed out, I took my bike and her bad wheels and worn-out chainrings home to talk to my husband about what to do. SavageMan is a month away.

Well, my 90-yr-old mother heard me talking about it and asked what was up. She asked to make sure she had it right, that I needed new wheels to make my bike rideable, and was going to need to spend the same amount soon on another part.  She questioned the logic of replacing one expensive part after another on a bike that had 10,000-12,000 miles on it and kept breaking down. And she asked, if I were to get a new bike, what it would cost to get the bike I need.

Long story short, I've had a brand-new bike for a week now. Trek Madone 5.2 WSD (Women's Specialized Design) and it's gorgeous. Riding it is like riding butter. 

My mother wanted to do this for me. She's not rolling in dough but she does have a little extra. I talked about how we could use that money for improvements to her home. I felt awkward: I'm an adult, and my mother was offering to buy me a bike. But I could see she was going to be very disappointed and sad if I didn't let her do this for me. So I've got this beautiful new bike that flies over the roads and breezes up hills (well, I do still have to grind hard up the worst ones but they're easier than they were before)  and I don't have to be afraid that some part or other is going to give out on me mid-ride, mid-hill, mid-race.

And I'm trying to get my head around this gift that I could not have gotten for myself, haven't earned, don't feel I deserve. She says with all I do for her that's not even a question. I'm always feeling I should be doing more.

And it occurred to me.... it's like salvation. It's a gift. I did not earn it, did not have to earn it, because it's not earned, it's a gift. It's there; I need only to receive it. There's nothing I can do to pay for it, because the giver paid for it, it's already paid for, it's mine. Salvation; a new bike. Amazing, the lessons the Lord teaches us.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011


I see a couple black bears a year here in Garrett County, MD. Sometimes from the car, but most often I've been on foot or on my bike.

One of the most spectacular was while I was out running with my two dogs 7 or 8 years ago. I heard the usual thrashing in the brush up ahead and had my usual expectation of seeing a deer, but then a bear cub the size of a beagle crossed the road, followed by another, followed by a third. Obviously, when you see a bear cub (or two or three) maybe 50 yards ahead of you, you stop immediately.... there's got to be a mother with those little guys. Sure enough, out she came, followed by a FOURTH cub! And, oh, dear, the mom stopped in the middle of the road and looked at me, and one of my dogs barked at her, and I'm thinking, what to do if a bear with cubs comes after you? They say stand your ground and yell at her to go away. But she just stared for what seemed like half a minute but probably wasn't, before moving on across the road and into the woods.

I reversed my direction. I wasn't going there.

Then maybe 3 years ago, I was biking on a small but well-populated road along Deep Creek Lake, and here came 2 cubs followed by the mother, right across the road into a driveway, and there the mother stopped although the cubs continued on into the yard. Again I stopped. She was right smack next to the road, which had no shoulders. I wasn't riding past her. Even if I turned around and went the other way, she could go from 0 to 30 a lot faster than I could. So I just waited. She looked at me. I looked at her. She waited. I waited. Finally, in a friendly voice, I just said, "Hi!" She turned and booked, along with her cubs, to the back of the house and into the woods.

Quite a few times I've seen a bear up ahead while I've been biking; hollering out, "Hey, Bear, move! I'm coming!" has been enough to make them get out of the road.

But I never had one come this close to me before. I have a friend who's a woodswoman (hunter, hiker, wanderer) and she never goes into the woods without her bear spray on her hip. I've teased her about it. But now I think I'll ask her where she buys her spray. Maybe I've been too blasé about these beautiful, usually non-agressive, powerful creatures. This juvenile bear was awesome but I wasn't nuts about the way he ran right towards me. He'd changed his direction -- had started running into the woods and changed his mind for some reason. I thought the mom might be behind him, coming after me, or that he had decided to chase me off instead of running away, or who knows. I thought he was going to fight my dog (whose purpose is to deter marauders of all species, but I don't want her mauled by a bear.) Oddly, I wasn't frightened, just thinking faster than I ever imagined possible. And after he went away I went ahead and finished my run, 5 more miles, including a 2+ mile road through the forest with few cars and no houses. I mean, what's the chance of two close bear encounters in one hour? I just plain wasn't scared. Call me crazy.

But when I got home, after excitedly telling my husband, I went scrounging through some old stuff and found a can of bear spray we'd bought when hiking in Yellowstone and the Tetons. It said "Exp 2007." I took it outside and shot a little blast at the fence. It still shot. I sniffed the fence. Smelled like pepper. But I'm sure it loses potency. I'm buying myself a new can. ~Sigh~ It costs about $45, but I guess it could be money well-spent.

Sunday, August 21, 2011


Out running with my dog, about a mile into a 6-miler, heard some scrambling and scrabbling in the woods ahead, pretty usual, probably a deer. Oops, nope..... a young bear in a tree, about 4 feet up. A little larger than my 50-pound dog, who set up her special "funny-looking animal alert" bark. I thought the bear would continue up the tree, but he jumped down and ran into the woods. My instincts made me dart my eyes around to see if there was a mama, but I didn't see one. Then, crash, scramble..... a bear is running out of the same spot, straight towards Journey and me. Is that Mama?? No, same youngster, but he's coming right at us. Journey was lunging, ready to give him the what-for, and I'm still looking for a mama, and thinking, he's not very old but he could kill my dog (or me, I guess) if he had a mind to, and how on earth do you break up a dog-and-bear fight, I guess you don't, you drop the leash and let your dog keep the bear off you, even at the expense of your dog.... amazing how many thoughts can run through your head in a fraction of a second. I yelled "NO!!!" at both Journey and the bear, and he veered off about 2 feet from Journey (maybe 6 feet from me) and dashed across the road into the woods. I'm left with my mouth still open from the "NO!!!" and still looking for a mama when out he runs again, maybe 50 feet away, back across to where he came from. Journey still wanted to give chase. Several cars were stopped. They all waited a respectable interval before going again, too..... no doubt, like me, wondering if there was another one nearby. The young'un seemed to be alone, though; probably a 2-yr-old in his first summer on his own.

Well, I always enjoy seeing a bear, but ordinarily I wouldn't choose to see one quite that close. Oddly, at the same time I was holding tight to the leash and shouting "NO!!!" I was also conscious of how beautifully black and shiny he was..... I would have liked to reach out and touch him.

Well, maybe not.

Saturday, August 13, 2011


These were posted within the last 24 hours on Facebook by a friend of mine and I'm passing it on:

‎63 year old Eric Robinson from Australia, set off to thru hike the Highline Trail 7.28.11. He was scheduled to finish Sunday 8.7.11. Please Call Sherriff Mitchell at 435.738.2015 or Julia Geisler 415.695.4502 if you are available for the next few days to join the search or have any info.

Calling Volunteers! Missing Hiker on Highline Trail, Uintas, Utah: Eric Robinson
PLEASE SEARCH BLOGS, FACEBOOK, TRAIL JOURNALS for anyone who hiked on the Highline Trail between 7.28.11-8.7.11 and get in touch with them. ANY INFO ABOUT ERIC WILL HELP.


I'm suffering from a notable lack of focus.

I need to/want to/should be doing so many things that seem to rule each other out. I need to be training for SavageMan; I need to rest a couple of injuries; I need to decide whether to do the whole race as registered for or downgrade to the shorter distance or maybe the AquaVelo (skipping the run); I want to skip all this for now and go hiking with my backpacking pal Rocky; I need to clean & remodel my mother's house; I need to clean up my own accumulated junk.....

I need to do just one thing for long enough to progress a little towards accomplishing that one thing.

I need to light somewhere.

I just now started practicing hymns for tomorrow's church service and stopped right in the middle of one and went out and moved the car out of the driveway so my husband can get the truck in. My husband was not there, in the truck, waiting; he's coming after awhile. I stopped in the middle of the hymn to move the car. Then I came back in intending to go back to the piano but instead sat at the computer and started loading the weather radar map to decide whether to go for a bike ride or a swim or neither, and while the weather map was loading I switched to my blog. Haven't gotten back to the radar map yet.

I got a new tent, finished seam-sealing it yesterday, and want to set it up for tonight when it's supposed to rain. A friend has Tyvek she can give me to make a ground sheet, so should I go get that from her before I set up the tent and if so, should I bike to and from her house (24 miles each way) or should I drive there and back or just set up the tent using something I already have for a ground sheet that doesn't fit?

Pretty soon the bike-or-swim question will decide itself for me, as will the bike-or-drive question: I'll simply run out of time. Not to decide is to decide.

I still haven't gotten back to either the radar map or the piano. It's a wonder I've stayed at my blog post this long.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011


Written months ago..... I haven't been able to publish posts and just now found out how to fix it! On with my "Easter Essay" -- finally!!!


I felt so free..... driving along the back country roads, with my bike in the back seat, after a long frustrating day, to meet my friend Roxanne for a ride. I'd been looking forward to it all day and I felt free, free! Rox and I are going biking, hallelujah!!

Until I saw the red and blue lights flashing in my rear-view mirror. Unmarked car. Darn.

I knew what it was, though. We had moved in with my mother several months earlier and were finding many things that she had lost track of, one of them being renewing her car tags. We'd discovered this earlier when I got pulled over for expired tags, but the officer found, on running the registration, that it was current; the renewal stickers just had not been applied. The cop gave me one of those "get this fixed" orders but didn't ticket me since the registration was current. Mother had no idea where they could be, so we ordered new ones. Well, I procrastinate and lose track of things too, and the new stickers were still in the glove box.

So when this second officer pulled me over, I reached immediately for the registration papers and the new stickers.

"Hello, officer, I know it looks like my tags are expired but it's my elderly mother's car, and she lost the renewal stickers; I have the replacement ones right here but haven't put them on yet," handing them to him.

He looked at the registration and the stickers. He said, "I already ran your tags and I know your registration's current. Be sure to get those stickers on soon. Actually the reason I've pulled you over is..... I clocked you awhile back at 55 in a 40 zone and just now at 62 in a 50."

My spirits plunged as I felt a heavy weight fall crushing down on me. No more light, free feeling.

"It's 40mph starting back there at Black Hawk School Road, with a notice before the change," he answered. "Did you see me sitting there? " "I didn't," I said. (Unmarked car sitting at a stop sign...) "You've been following me that long?" It had to have been at least a mile.

"I have," he said. "That's two violations in a mile and a half." (Plus, he could have said, not paying attention, not seeing the speed limit signs, not noticing the police vehicle at the intersection or behind me. And I thought it was 55, not 50, right here where he'd pulled me over, but he'd clocked me at 62.)

"You can put your stickers back in your glove box; be sure to put them on soon. I do need your registration, license, and insurance information."

Oh no, please..... we'd been living in Maryland for close to a year and I still had my Florida driver's license from when we were RV'ing and didn't live "anywhere" but had to declare a state of residency, so, like many full-time RV'ers, we declared one we occasionally visited and actually stayed in sometimes that had no state tax. Please please please...... I gave him the documents. He read them.

"You say this is your mother's car?" "Yes, it is. My husband and I have moved in with her to take care of her." "She's elderly, you say?" "Yes, sir." "So, how long ago did you move here from Florida?" Oh, geez. Well, not quite. Most recently we'd moved from New Orleans from New Hampshire from Texas. We'd lived in Florida for 6 months in 2005 but at the time we were registered in South Dakota. It seemed too complicated and farfetched to explain.

"Um, several months ago. (Maybe 8 or 10 since we actually changed our address..... isn't that just a few.....?) "Things have been pretty confusing, getting my mother's issues sorted out. I guess I sort of put off getting my own license changed." (I guess you're supposed to get your Maryland one within 60 days of taking up residence there.)

"Well, you have two significant speeding violations, and expired tags even though your registration is current, and I'll have to run the info on your out-of-state license. You now claim the same address that's here on your mother's registration, is that correct?" "Yes, sir, my husband and I have changed our addresses to receive all our mail and services there."

So he goes back to his patrol car and I lean my head on the steering wheel and moan, "Oh, God, no, oh God no, oh God no, oh God no......" How am I going to pay a speeding ticket? Speeding plus all these other issues? How much is he going to hit me for? SavageMan is next month, I was going to get my bike a complete tune-up and new tires. I guess not, now. How could I have been so happy and so heedless? God help me, God help me, God help me...... 55 in a 40 that I didn't see? 62 in a 50 that I thought was 55? I couldn't have been, but he's been behind me for over a mile and I didn't even notice him, even in his unmarked car. I'm just flying along in my bike shorts and jersey with my bike in the back seat singing, "I'm free, I'm free, it's (finally) a great day to be alive...." but my bubble is busted. I'll probably just go home. I'll be needing to save on gas to pay for the traffic ticket.

With my head still on the steering wheel, I hear his voice at the window again. I lift my head and stare out the windshield.

"OK, Mrs. Hamilton," he says. "I haven't written you a citation. I've written you a warning for exceeding the 40mph speed limit. I don't want to penalize you; I just want protect you. Slow down, pay attention, and stay safe. And get your Maryland license soon and put those tag stickers on. You have a nice ride, now," glancing at my outfit and the bike.

And then, so kindly and gently it felt like a soft, warm, blessing rain: "You're free to go."
Free to go. It echoed in my head and my heart.
You're free to go.
You're free to go.
You're free to go.

You have this violation, and this one, and this one, and this one, and this one. (I discovered later that the insurance information I had handed him was expired as well, although, again, the policy was current but the card had been lost. He either didn't notice or, after running my insurance info, didn't mention it.)
But you're free to go.

Free to go? It took me a beat to absorb that. Then I gave him an astonished "Thank you!" and suddenly felt 20 pounds lighter. I felt uplifted and inspired.

Free to go. When I approach the heavenly throne and see that video of my life they always show you, I hope the Lord says to me, "Well, you've had some issues, haven't you? I've watched it all. You had this problem, and there was a tough choice here that could have gone better, you've always felt badly about the way you treated some people, you blew off some things that were important. But I don't want to penalize you, I just want to help you. I've taken care of all of it for you. You're free to go."

I put the written warning in my Bible.

It's been probably 9 or 10 months since that happened. I should call the police station and ask to speak with that officer, and tell him how much that extraordinary kindness meant to me. I think I'll even tell him I hope that's what Jesus says to me when I get to heaven: "You're free to go." He made my day, and left a lasting impression on my life. Maybe letting him know can make one on his.

I Think It's Fixed......

Switched from "old post editor" to "new post editor" in Settings. One more try.....

Test Post

To see if I can publish.

Friday, April 01, 2011


So we have snow again today. Not much, but too much just the same. Around here, spring snows have names. There's the "Sugar Snow," which falls after the sap starts to run in the maple trees. It's good for the sap run, increases and prolongs it. This is the picturesque folklore snow described by Laura Ingalls Wilder in Little House in the Big Woods, and in Lillian Hoban's superb children's story The Sugar Snow Spring. Lots of people in lots of places have heard of sugar snow, and the sap in fact has started, as evidenced by buckets hung on the trees and Maple Festivals in nearby small towns. Then there's the "Robin Snow." This was a little harder to pin down to a written reference, but I found a thoughtful one on a blog called Basic North and another mention at Country Captures, a photography blog. Where we live, the definition agrees with the second one: snow after the robins come back. Basic North's grandmother said it falls after the robins start to sing. I've heard robins singing (as opposed to just chirping, which they do at first) in the past week. It's a heartrending, wistful, nostalgic melody, and according to Basic North's grandmother, portends two more snows. These may well be the "Onion Snow" and the "Sarvice Snow." The Onion Snow covers the ground after onions have been planted in the garden. The references I found all said the expression seems to be unique to central Pennsylvania, but this is western Maryland and it's known here as well. I planted onions about 10 days ago but..... I doubt if anyone else has, anyone with any sense, that is. No one plants anything until late April, and many don't try until Memorial Day. In a true Onion Snow, the green growing tops contrast prettily with their white blanket. Well, I planted plants, not sets (tiny bulbs) during a teaser warm spell and although I mulched them with straw they're looking pretty peaked after a week of return to sub-freezing temperatures. I'm an experienced gardener and know better than to plant anything in March, but I couldn't stand it anymore. I put out collard plants, too, and they don't look so good either. The Onion Snow is said, in some parts, to be the last snow of the year, but here in Garrett County, MD, we know there's at least one more to come: the "Sarvice Snow." I couldn't find any references at all to this one. The "sarvice" tree, or service tree, also known as juneberry and shadbush, flowers out in mid spring, and is so called because in days of yore its lacy white blooms graced the settings of services like weddings and funerals which had to be postponed during the winter, until the roads became passable to bring the preacher through again and/or the ground would yield once more to the edge of a shovel to dig a grave. I haven't heard this anywhere but here in Garrett County. Anyway, I know the sarvice blossoms aren't out yet, so the Sarvice Snow is yet to come. Maybe I can make one up. How about the "Coltsfoot Snow?" Coltsfoot is a little flower that looks like a small dandelion and grows mostly on the gravel shoulders of roadsides. I know people rejoice to see robins on their lawns but it's when I see coltsfoot that I know for sure that spring is coming. I started seeing coltsfoot just this past week, when I was out on one of my cold-weather-testing bike rides. Or the "Peeper Snow." Again, this past week, I perceived another hopeful sign: the tweet of just a couple of spring peepers. They sound a little like someone whistling for their dog. And when I hear them I thank God. It's spring! But when freezing temperatures and snow return (as they always do before the peepers find the partners with whom they want to reproduce) they stop and go back under the ground or fallen logs or wherever it is they hibernate. This snow has driven the peepers and their whistling back into winterland, not to be heard again until the next thaw. Or.... we could call it the "Bicycle Snow." Snow that dampens motivation, freezes enthusiasm, and wrecks the training program of the distance cyclist who has already ventured out hopefully on a few early rides. Well...... it doesn't damage the maples, or the robins, or the onions (except maybe my prematurely-planted ones) or the sarvice trees and it won't put this cyclist off the road for long.

Thursday, March 31, 2011


Well, after Phil B.'s comment to my post yesterday, I have no excuses left except road conditions. My bike won't make it on ice or snow. Just wet..... I don't know. Requires a big clean-up after riding on wet roads. I guess I should bite the bullet and do that in a "the show must go on" mindset, in case it rains on Gran Fondo day (I'm registered for the 125-mile Diabolical Double in that series of events.) But only cold? Well, Phil.... I guess you've convinced me I can rise (or descend) to the occasion, and have to, since our spring's not coming very close very fast and I need to get in my distances. I gotta get the feet thing figured out. That's the only part of me that's cold. I don't have much more room inside my bike shoes to increase sock thickness. My feet don't just feel cold, they go dead-white with blue toenails. I'll try a couple layers of thin nylons under my woolies. Actually, I was chilly when I first started out on a long downgrade, but knew that once I hit a couple hills I'd be plenty warm. And I was. I had a little backpack to stow discarded layers but didn't want to stop to do it once I was in a groove. I'd have been more comfortable, but now I know I can do Killer Miller when I'm overheating. I did Killer Miller TWICE. Got to the top the first time and thought, "Gee, I wonder how long it's taking me to scale this thing? I'll go do it again and time it, then I can measure progress." So I went down carefully (there's still gravel on it from ice treatment, but you can't go down it all-out in any case because of the grade and curves.) Halfway up on take #2, I realized.... yup, Grandma here forgot to check her time at the start. But it was still good training. So.... definitely no more "It's too cold for biking."

Tuesday, March 29, 2011


I keep trying to find this out, in reference to whether it will be possible to ride my bike outdoors. I'm somewhat behind where I'd like to be in training because it's been "too cold." We had a thaw in February, with a couple days in the upper 50'sF, and I was ecstatic, looked forward to it all week, dismounted my bike from my indoor trainer, and did 25 miles. Next week I needed 35, but when it was time for that, we were only going to make barely 50*, but I thought, well, with an extra sweater... let's try. Thirty-five miles in the bag. Temps have just plain deteriorated from there. The day of my 40-miler, we were only going to make 47*. Well, 47*, 50*, there's not that much difference. It was windy and I was chilly and took a really hilly route, but made 37.5 miles. I could have done the extra 2.5 but that meant riding past my house, and I was cold and tired and the temptation was too great. About 10 days ago I made 50 miles, temps in the mid-40's. And it's been dropping from there. No relief from daytime highs in the 30's for close to a week now. Having tasted the open road, I'm averse to mounting the bike back on the trainer. But 30's? I can't bike when it's in the 30's!! Except today I did. Two pairs of tights, two sweaters, a wind jacket, thick wool socks, fleece neck gaiter convertible to lower-face mask, fleece hat under my helmet, full gloves under my bike gloves. I was overdressed. Long hills were hard, not because I was tired but because I was hot. Sweat dripped down my back. But my feet still got cold. Have to work on that one. So now I know I can bike when it's 35*F. No "It's too cold" excuses left, since I don't expect any more days in the 20's. Hopefully. Sunday is supposed to be around 50*F with 0% precip chance. I need a 60-miler, starting after church. So glad daylight saving time was early, even if spring hasn't been!

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Awhile back, probably about the time of my 58th birthday, I wrote that I was going to start a project to arrive at my 60th birthday in the best shape of my life. ~Sigh~ Well, I do have a passion for extreme endurance athletic events, and I'm registered for a 125-mile bike ride the end of June, but I have so let myself go this winter. I need to lose 10 pounds (again) and I just this week broke down and let the doc prescribe me cholesterol medicine. I have a bit of rebellion, suspecting that the cholesterol hype is just that, hype, promoted by drug companies who naturally want as many people as possible consuming their product. But even I had to acknowledge that, given all current knowledge, this was a little much and I might need a few pills. I've also decided to forgo most animal-based foods for awhile: meat, milk, cheese, eggs. I guess a little skim milk or egg whites wouldn't do any harm. I'm not convinced that dietary cholesterol and saturated fat are the culprits anyway (I suspect that's part of the hype and deception) but I'll give it a try for a bit. I don't mind being vegetarian. I've done it before. Meat's not essential for me. There's plenty of protein in the plant world. I keep thinking, there's so much that goes on in my mind, if not my life, and if I don't write it down it will all be lost when I'm gone. Living with my soon-to-be 90-year-old mother is a constant reminder that none of us is here forever. I would like to live to be her age, but I would like to arrive there with my back straight and my body strong enough not to have to rest after walking across the kitchen.