Saturday, February 25, 2012


I'm sorry I'm not blogging, world. Sometimes it's just too much to ponder. What to do, what to do?

BUT..... yesterday I heard a robin chirping, and the day before that I saw a coltsfoot blossom. So even though there's snow on the ground again today, whipped by the wind into little tornadoes, I still hold onto this: I heard a robin, I saw coltsfoot.

Been battling Achilles tendonitis. I think my body got confused by my Appalachian Trail preparations, thought AT means Achilles tendonitis, which I barely recovered from in time to start the AT (the Trail, that is) 3 years ago. Since whether or not I have AT affects whether I'll be able to hike the AT, my body gets confused when I start preparing for the AT, and develops AT.


Sunday, February 19, 2012


I never hike in shorts or long pants. Skirts rule.

A running skort is good, but I cut out the shorts liner. My favorite, though, is one I made out of men's swim trunks, again cutting out the liner. Lightweight, quick-drying.

I like a skirt because:
  • It's airy.
  • You don't have to undress to add or subtract warm layers or rain pants.
  • Nothing tightens around your legs when you take a big step up or down.
  • You don't have to strip and squat to pee, or even take off your backpack.
Long ago, as a marathoner, I discovered the art of the no-strip, stand-up pee. As a runner I accomplished this wearing loose running shorts (pull the leg to the side, practice at home over toilet or in shower.) As a hiker, well, nothing beats a skirt (do the leg maneuver with whatever you have as underwear, which you do need with a skirt.) Once I peed standing up w/o showing anything, behind a Dumpster with several guys and a squatting girl who had chosen the same spot. She and I rejoined the course together; she met up with a fella she was running with, who had waited for her, and she said, "Sorry for the wait." He said, "Yeah, I guess women can't just pee standing up." She said, "I just found out we can, I saw a woman doing it. I'm gonna learn." Be converted, girls. I have even done this during triathlons, wearing spandex bike shorts. It's not as easy but it's doable and you don't have to sit on that yucky porta-pot seat.

My hiking skirt is black, so black microfiber underwear looks like it could be part of the skirt if someone below you on a climb happens to look up. I also like boxer shorts, for modesty and ventilation. Men's medium work just fine. Again, with some maneuvering I can just pee out the leg, although it's not as easy as with elastic-leg underwear.

BTW, the men's swimsuit to skirt conversion is so easy I did it on the trail with my minimalist sewing kit on a "nero" day ("near-zero", hike in the a.m., take the afternoon off for chores and rest.) Cut out the leg-to-leg crotch seam, trim excess fabric a little longer than leg hems, sew existing seams to incorporate any extra fullness, trim seam, hem, you're done. Half an hour at most. I bought the men's trunks on sale at Trail Days in Damascus, VA when I went through, because I'd gotten too small for my running skirt with a 10-pound hiking weight-loss. The men's suit has an elastic waist and drawstring, to accommodate further loss (or post-hike gain.) That was in 2009, I wore it from Damascus to Harpers Ferry, WV, have worn it on section hikes from there to the AT midpoint in PA, and will be wearing it on my midpoint-to-Maine hike this summer.

Friday, February 17, 2012


I love these.

Lightweight, waterproof, leakproof, easy-to-spot storage for 2 items per case.

On the trail or on the bike, I always pocket one with emergency meds: Benadryl in case of bee sting in one side, pain reliever in the other. And one more: stomach-settler in one side, panic-attack pill in the other. (I hate panic attacks, but once in a while I get one.)

We're leaving in a little while for a weekend trip, and I put my face cream in one: Day cream in one side (the one with the light cap), night cream in the other (dark cap.) Beats carrying two jars.

Vaseline, little safety pins....

How many uses can you think of? Contact cases are cheap; if you wear contacts, you get free ones with new orders from 1-800-CONTACTS.

Thursday, February 16, 2012


Why am I blogging when I have so much I need to get done?

We're heading out to Ohio for our grandson's 16th birthday. My 90-yr-old mother, who needs a lot of help, is going along. We're leaving tomorrow after lunch. In the morning I have to:
  •  Take Mother to the hairdresser
  •  Take her dog to board at the vet,
  •  Pick up a wheelchair for the weekend,
  •  Phen pick up Mothe
  •  Leave.  
That means all other preparations have to be done today.

This includes:
  • Bathe my dog, who is going with us
  • Shower, do hair
  • Pack
  • Take Mother to the gym
  • Skip my yoga class
  • Leave at 3:30 with my husband to take care of our granddaughters for the evening. 
  • Return from that and watch American Idol with my mother.
So essentially I have to be ready for the weekend by 3:30 today, Thursday, because the rest of the time until departure is taken up.

It's only a weekend. It's the two days before that are the challenge.

Sunday, February 12, 2012


Cigar tubes are just plain trash that I find along the road while I'm running or biking. I love them! They're lightweight, waterproof, color-coded little containers for all kinds of stuff in my backpack and bike-jersey pockets.

On the trail, I use them in my food bag for seasonings. On the bike, I carry my electrolyte tablets in one. I can flip the cap off, shake one tablet into my mouth, and replace the cap, on the fly with one hand. I'm not going to list a whole bunch of uses because you can easily think of your own.

They can easily be cut to desired size, if you want a shorter one, and the cap still fits. Cut the rounded end off one and keep it with your water supplies: if you can't get your water bottle under a trickle, stick the tube into the trickle and you've got a spout.

My hiking buddy had an ingenious idea: again, cut off end,  fill the tube with stick deodorant, cap one end, and when ready to use, uncap and push up from inside with your finger. I've augmented this concept by sticking a cotton ball inside at the "push-up" end -- it pushes up more easily.

(Yes, I do use deodorant on the trail. It's not so much about odor... on the trail armpits are only one contributor to body odor. It's just that I hate the feel of wet pits.)

Keep your eye out for these on the shoulder of the road when you're out for a walk, run, or ride. You're picking up litter, so that's good, too. They're convenient little bits of MacGyver-esque fun for cheapskate dirt-bagging lovers of do-it-yourself gear. And they're free.

Saturday, February 04, 2012


They make me go ballistic.

Since sometime in my early teens, I have felt my guts, muscles, nerves, brain, hair, and fingernails go tied into knots at the sound of anyone chewing, licking, sucking, slurping, crunching, slobbering (insert any other mouth sounds you can think of), and by the sight of gum-chewing (let alone its sounds.) In public, I have had to leave rooms because someone near me was chewing something. At home, my children knew they had to take an apple or carrot into another room. Gum in the house was pretty much out of the question. I have asked people to spit out their gum when I was in their house.

When I was a teen, my parents hollered at me for kicking or clobbering the dog for licking itself. Nowadays, I just rocket off the couch and poke the dog, or sometimes throw something at it, but I'm using extreme restraint.

Mouth sounds and sights send me into a frenzy of tension, rage, anxiety, and other feelings of distress that don't even have names.

But I have learned that the aversion to masticating sounds DOES have a name: misophonia. I'm not inserting a link because all you have to do is google it and you will discover that this is a real disorder, not something you have made up or deliberately cultivated or are doing to get attention or any of the other things people may have told you all your life. I have had people deliberately chomp and slobber at me because they think it's funny. It makes me feel as though I'm crawling inside with maggots. I want to choke them and bash their teeth in.

Little is known about it other than that it is real, usually with an onset around the age of puberty, and that it is most probably not psychological but physical.  Some auditory-neurological connection in which the brain perceives certain normal little sounds as threats to safety and sanity and responds with a fight-or-flight reflex. Sufferers often have the urge to do violence to the perpetrator. They are usually not bothered by their own sounds, and sometimes not by others' sounds if they themselves are also eating or chewing at the same time. Some can eat with other people (thankfully, I can) but others can't. Also, the closer you are emotionally to the person making the sounds, the harder it hits you. Good heavens, this must be why I have learned to tolerate it (barely) when strangers and friends are chewing gum, but go into near-panic when my husband does.

It's only recently recognized and named, in its infancy of research and treatment, but it's not a new phenomenon to people like me who have suffered with it for 50 years.It's kind of like when science finally acknowledged, "Yes, there really are menstrual cramps." We who have it have always known it's real. We are not crazy. There's a cause. They just haven't found it. In the meantime, we just go on controlling ourselves and asking those around us to be considerate, or at least to condescend.

Friday, February 03, 2012


I'm just about back.

My mother was desperately sick. I have seen elderly people more robust than she is die from a GI illness like that. I made a deal with the doctor: Imodium and Phenergan, hospital if any deterioration in next hour or no improvement in two. She did not deteriorate and the puking and the runs stopped but it was 24 hours before she could even sit up in bed unassisted.

By that time it had hit me. And I'll tell you what, I don't know how a 90-yr-old survived.

She slept for two days solid. I would have liked to but I had to take care of her. My husband's nursing capabilities are limited to bringing drinks, and he wanted to keep his distance hoping not to get it. He didn't.

It's been a week now and we're more or less functional again. We get tired easily. A day of a little too much results in a day of feeling like crap. This thing hangs on. The three of us had a cooked dinner at the table this evening for the first time since last Thursday.

It was bad enough for me, and I'm having trouble regaining my normal functionality. I'm glad I'm not 90.