Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Hair and chickens

bantam roosters

hens of different colors  The little one, who I think is the prettiest, is a bantam hen The hens kept trying to escape me
My hairdresser keeps chickens. She offered to escort me to my car with a broom as the roosters can attack but I had to laugh when I found her flock as her roosters are bantams i.e. smallest chicken possible. Her other hens are much larger. Hey I faced down Bodine, the Rhode Island Red rooster..certainly I can handle a bantam. As it was not sunny, the black hen's iridescent blue and green feathers were not evident and the roosters' spurs were wet. She says they are so much prettier dry.

So one is only supposed to keep one rooster at a time because fights break out but although one rooster is clearly dominant, he lets the other share some of the duties in peace so she keeps them both.

So I now have nice hair compared to that total mess I sported just a few hours earlier. It is much darker now but that probably won't last.

July is just zipped by.  In the drizzle, I had a nice bike ride and I actually accomplished some stuff here so Yay me!

Tuesday, July 30, 2013


Tess on the computer at the library.  Tuesday is storytime. I bring Maya; Shanna brings her three and then all four play the afternoon
Fearless is the name of one of my favorite movies. A man and a few others survive  a plane crash. No one else but his fellow survivors can understand what he has gone through, certainly not his wife. He becomes a changed man.

Fearless was also a term that Soulmate used the other day to describe me. I had expressed some concern about going down steep hills in the rain. He was surprised  because he didn't think I was afraid of much. But I am very cognizant how my friend Dave died  just 2 years ago losing control on some downhill in West Virginia on his bike. But Soulmate made me feel good as I had been encountering some negativity from various sources. I needed to hear something positive even though I am not sure how true it is. There are many things I am afraid of but mainly things completely out of my control such as the fate of my children.

My high school friend and her husband came for dinner last night. So many things we shared so long ago! And then we had lost touch for 22 years or so. But it was so much fun being with her again, a special night.
I had some anxiety about how awful my house is. Shouldn't I be doing 'better'? And as I had Maya duty for most of the day, it was hard getting things just right. I can cook however.

I am tired, bone tired. I slept in the middle of the day despite having grandkids here. A combination of a cold, trying to make my absurd fitness goals, running around, trying to fix things, etc has just exhausted me.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Silly signs

This is from our neighborhood. First it makes being 'green' contingent on cougar adoption. Second, since when are cougars endangered? Maybe the Florida panthers (black cougars are) but certainly not those in the West.

This from our lunch place in Indian River. The door certainly looks like a door. There is a website for inappropriate quotation marks.

Trying to clean up the place is difficult with a 3 year old in tow. First she wants to help. You can guess how that goes. She wanted to help roll out tart dough, difficult to do as it is. So pear frangipane tart, salmon, cherry salad, coconut basmati rice and balsamic brussel sprouts (this time with fake bacon). Sound good?

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Settling back in

I haven't been home for much more than 2 weeks at a time for the past 4 months so I am a bit unsettled. Whatever heat we had up north, happened here too with no good effect on my flowers though my geraniums and impatiens are thriving. I have spent many a hour dealing with credit card issues, finally settled(I think).
Also in the works, a trip to the Northwest. Aside from Steve's family in Seattle, we will visit the beaches of the North Oregon coast and the Columbia Gorge. I had bought a Living Social thing for a wonderful place on Whidbey Island. Alas it was all booked up as many places are that I tried. Also for some reason, car rental rates are twice as much in Seattle as they are in San Francisco. Even the airline tickets were quite a bit more so this trip will bust our budget.

We are staying in a cute place in Astoria, Oregon that is more or less central to our explorations.

When we return, two baby showers and then I will sit tight until the baby comes in less than 9 weeks.

I resumed running made easier by the cool weather we've been having. I am still bicycling too though I have no rides this year scheduled.

When Shanna tried to mow her grass the other day, the engine exploded. They were told they didn't have to add oil but as it turns out, they did. They were lucky the flying metal shards didn't hit anyone.

Almost every day I have a grandchild or four, here. One night a friend and I went out for appletinis. Yum! Another night another friend shared a bottle of rioja on the patio while the fireflies flitted about. The lazy days of summer.

And now I have beautiful hot pink shiny nails that for once, are the same length.

To be done, wedding photobook for the happy couple and one for me.

Tomorrow my good high school friend who I reconnected with last month in Maryland comes here. Can't wait. And then later in the week, lunch with my birthday buddy (we remember each others birthdays even when no one else does).

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Are Monster Trucks for Real?

The other day, I was reading Daniel a book about talking trucks. With talking animals and various talking inanimate objects, sometimes it is hard for an almost 4 year to distinguish between fantasy and fact. Oliver, now 5, listens to storytime stories with a cynical ear. I find it difficult to believe that dinosaurs can build houses and that a dog could swallow a cow, he likes to interject whenever he hears something that he believes is absurd.

But monster trucks sounded too good to be true to Daniel. Off we went  to troll the internet for 'real' monster trucks doing their things. He was rapt for a while then asked to view train crashes.

Last week 3 of my former Brownies convened at Shanna's house. Between them, they have 9 children, 7 of whom are, heaven forbid! boys. Lots of swinging around Star Wars laser sticks. When I de-armed them, they used train tracks to 'fight'.

Time marches on with a faster and faster cadence. Just yesterday the three were cute little 6 year olds missing front teeth interrupting each other clamoring for attention to tell the tale of tooth loss and doll procurement  and now they are women in their thirties.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Sturm und drang

The 'sturm'

My friend buying a crepe, a welcome stop in Good Hart. By then the storms had passed

Cutest tea shop ever with my bike

My favorite table for the tea room
My friend being lifted at the finish line. Hmm..wonder why Pitbull didn't pick me up?

Legs Inn We went back there after the ride for a wonderful lunch of smoked whitefish, bigos, golumpkis and pierogies

We drove past things we missed in Harbor Springs and Charlevoix

Smoked whitefish: quintessential Northern Michigan treat

The lone bike versus the storm. This photo is from my friend. I love it.

Inside Good Hart store
Sunset over Bellaire ski resort we stayed at later

My friend's friend's art exhibit in Traverse City we visited the next day

Pink tips to a northern evergreen. I haven't seen these down here

Boardman River in TC
Things did not look good Friday morning. Storms all night with more to come in the morning. We sat out several waves of torrential rain before deciding to take off in a small break in the action against 30 mph headwinds. It was so dark, I could not read my odometer (a solar one that has been faithfully ticking off the miles for 16 years with a 4 year break somewhere).  My rain jacket is not good for bicycling as it blends in perfectly with the dark sky and greenery (yellow-green or orange, the best). But the car drivers were sleeping or waiting out the rain. I worried about my friend, still ill and vulnerable to cold. We did have a few periods of no rain but as we were going up and down short, steep, curvy hills, the wet roads meant little braking power.

When we were about 22 miles in, the sun came out for good. And as our path was an enormous 'C', the head winds turned to tail winds. M-119 is The Tunnel of Trees. Very, very pretty. We had an extended stay in Good Hart for their excellent crepes and coffee. There also is the cutest tea room/antique store there.

226 miles of riding and 21 hours on the clock (which included the slow drags through sandy shoulders up the hellacious hills) and we were done. Most of the time I felt good and had fun. After cleaning up, we took the shortcut to Cross Village for our Polish lunch and some beer. Very pretty gardens. Then we retraced 1.5 days of our ride remarking on how steep some of the hills were even by car. We took a few side trips in Harbor Springs to look at the Beach Road houses and then the mushroom houses in Charlevoix.

My friend had booked a room in a pretty ski resort. Our balcony was on top of a ski lift. A light dinner overlooking the sunset over Bellaire Lake, some hot tubbing and off to dreamland in especially soft sheets.

I got up early to try to run. Either I run down a steep hill or up one, no flat parts. My legs were still swollen from biking so running was not pleasant. The same story the next day. By Monday, I was fine.
While my friend worked on her computer, I sat outside on the balcony with my coffee and puzzles. Nice and cool. We made a stop in Alden on Torch Lake (which I think is Michigan's prettiest lake) for the best caramel nut roll. Lots of hills around Alden. I had been through there on the Dalmac ride years ago. I think next year's Michigander may include it.

My friend was going to visit family on the west side. We went to Cherry City airport where she rented a car. Like the old Seinfeld episode, the rental company was not clear that a reservation meant you got a car at the time promised. Fortunately another company had a car. We went to an art exhibit where her friend's art work was featured. Then I met up with Josh for lunch. He had been there for 4 days in a cabin south of TC as Julie's close friend had a wedding. They had taken all 95 guests for a wine tasting trip in buses on the Leelanau Peninsula the day before. I did a bit of shopping and then the long, lonely ride home.

Thursday, July 25, 2013


Natural teepee of fallen trees

Lighthouse on nearby island
Total tent collaspe

The sky at 10 am as we waited for the ferry. Soon yet again, we were running for cover

Rocky shores

Flowers all around

My back after being caught in the rain
cute houses

cute church

The Grand Hotel

Giant Ford head I keep seeing in various places: first Onaway, then Grand Rapids now here
Onaway also has Lincoln and Washington heads. Wish I made the driver pull over for a photograph

The Petite Grande owned by Dr. Putz as the sign says

leaving on the ferry.  Way way in the background is the Mackinac Bridge
principal means of transport
My  friend photographing the beauty Note bridge again

Arch rock..look carefully and you can see little people on the shore

The day did not begin well. After breakfast, not good, we surveyed the tent. Usually it is the easiest to find as it is so tall. Well the nail that sticks up gets hammered. Staking in sand proved useless against the strong winds of the night before. The poles ended up sticking our neighbor. Added bonus, the tent collapsed on her and she needed help to get out. No one was amused and lots of blame pointed at me.

We tried to dry things out, a Sisyphic task as it would rain on and off for the whole day( and the next night), our rest day. We decided to go to Mackinac Island (note strange difference in spelling between the city and the island even though they are pronounced the same) and hope for a few moments of sunshine. That didn't look promising as a storm blew in while waiting for the ferry. Suddenly we were cold. I kept trying to guess the weather. It did look like it would clear up. It was dry for the ferry ride itself and for the first half hour we were there.

 We took the bikes. No cars are allowed on the Island. Transportation is largely performed by teams of Belgian horses.Drayage, the term is.Even Federal Express has a team of Belgians. The island is ringed by a 8 mile road where I ran a race maybe 27 years ago during the Lilac Festival. Finished in an hour flat! Yeah I know how tiresome it gets with reminders of my former awesomeness. Odors become more intense while exercising as one sucks in more air. I remember the bizarre olio of horse poop, lilacs and fudge. No lilacs now but they have added citronella to the miasma.  I guess it keeps the bugs off the Belgians.

But what a pretty place!! Flowers all around, cute little houses, impressive mansions, limestone formations, cairns on the beaches, pretty horses, impressive interior forests, art work, quaint shops. It is the gem of Michigan: Pure Michigan as they would say. 

We started off on the 8 mile loop. Lots of people rent bikes, people who must never have been on a bike in years and forgot that a straight path is the safest for all involved. And although these people must drive cars, somehow they think riding on the left is OK here. And without helmets. Kids are unpredictable and I am not shy about giving them pointers on safe riding but the parents.... Three miles into it, an hour long storm hit. By radar, it looked that we had an hour of rain free existence but then this popped up. My friend was sick still and extra mad. She tried to get a prescription then learned that there is no pharmacy in either Mackinaw or Mackinac. We took shelter in an abandoned nature center that although dark, was dry. I am not mad at you, I am mad at myself for listening to you.

Yep we were having fun. The rain stopped but the inch of rain that had dropped plus the considerable run off of the surrounding hills had made the path a mess. No avoiding the puddles now as the whole road was a puddle. And then there is the horse poop. In the 'city' someone goes around and cleans it up as fast as possible (talk about a sucky job) but on the 'outskirts', it is allowed to fester and mix in with the rain. So with no fenders, a good part of this ends up on our backs.  Recently there have been a series of races with names such as 'tough mudders' in which people pay to slither in the mud under concertina wire and are timed. Lots of them inhaled the local dirt and became quite ill. Horse poop again?I stupidly wore cotton, impossible to clean in a sink. My friend bought a new shirt and offered me her jersey which is much easier to clean. Unfortunately she is about a zillion sizes smaller so I literally oozed out of that shirt. It was an effort to even zip it so for the duration it remained open showing off my lop-sided cleavage (thank you cancer). 

But we were sort of clean enough for lunch. And the sun came out so the afternoon was very nice. We explored the island on foot. Again the place is just so precious. We had ice cream at the Grand Hotel, walked through woods, saw the picture perfect Arch Rock, walked along the East Cliffs where the mansions are. Pretty, pretty, pretty.

No wait for the ferry this time, a quick ride to camp to try to further right things and pack up the few things that were dry leaving them in a softball dugout.  Reasonable dinner (good make yourself salads)A bottle of wine, some hot tubbing, and off to dreamland.

But yet another storm blew in this time wiping out the remaining tents. People huddled for safety in the ice arena. We were however high and dry a mile away.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Laser night in Mackinaw

Mullett Lake early in the morning. One of the largest inland lakes

Topinabee train station repurposed as a library. Darwin sits outside of it

Pretty butterfly weed. Should have used the good camera

Sunset over Mackinaw City Should have been on the beach for this

My purchase late at night
Hotter still despite going ever further north. Much of this day's ride (one week ago now) was along Mullett Lake. My friend took to the roads as those narrow tires were a hindrance on the trail, though she could fly on pavement. After a while, I took to the roads myself as the same effort to go 10 mph on gravel translated into 14 mph on pavement. Given the heat, I went for the path of least resistance. I rode for a while with a couple of older dudes, one was a UM alumni from Palmyra NY where the golden tablets were allegedly found and then lost (how could Joseph Smith misplace these?!?). He was at one point, the managing editor for Parade magazine infamous in our family for its puff piece on my ex-brother-in-law, the habitual liar.

 This stretch, I had ridden twice before so I knew to stop in Cheboygan (though I still managed to make a wrong turn!!!) for an excellent coffee and pastry shop, raspberry chocolate scone and a large iced latte. Temp outside reaching high 80s, temp inside 60. We riders were hesitant to leave. On top of this, my friend developed bronchitis tiring her further. It just became hotter and hotter going to Mackinaw. First time they ever had a heat advisory for 100 degree heat indices. We had the great Northern treat, pasties downtown at Cunningham's. Rutabagas, another vegetable I don't like. To me, it has a musty, dirt taste but fortunately the chicken ones did not contain this. Also fresh, homemade cherry pie.

The recreation complex we set up at had good air conditioning inside. While my friend went for a walk downtown, she rented a room as she didn't feel like tenting while ill and with the 100 degree heat index.
She fell asleep exhausted early. Mackinaw City stays open late in the summer. I did some shopping buying the dress above, a cute top and yet more decorations for my crowded patio ( I was missing the Ann Arbor Art Fair again).

Then on to the Laser Light show downtown. Lots of eager tourists, including my fellow riders from the complex a mile away were in attendance. Well it was amusing with lots of green lights lighting up the surrounding trees. Kids were impressed.

In the middle of the night above the constant roar of the overworked air conditioning, I heard what sounded to be dumpsters dropped from high. It was a huge storm. Would my tent and most of our belongings survive? Stay tuned.
Riders basking in the cool
Some riders ate at The Yeck outside of Cheybogan featuring fried pizza
Cairns dotting the Lake Huron coast 8 miles south of MC

Color changing fountain of the motel where I spent time sitting catching up on Facebook while my friend recovered

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Tubing the Sturgeon

Serene beaver dammed pond en route

our path

Every day they would have one holiday themed sag stop: this was Halloween
This was our easy day: We started at 1370' and dropped to 602" in just 28 miles. However it was the first unpaved path and my friend's rental bike, despite assurances to the contrary, had narrow, treadless tires that easily mired in loose gravel in which there were several pockets notably around road interfaces making this not so enjoyable for her though they had a paved alternate route for road bikes nearby.

It is a pretty path going by beaver dams, through dense forests, through wildflower fields. Temps again were in the 90s by noon. What to do? Tube the Sturgeon which has the fastest current in lower Michigan (though it is very north. 14 feet per minute. It is spring fed so it is clean and always cool. However, there is no free ride. Due to numerous turns and obstacles, one had to constantly paddle with ones hands. There was one stretch though that we could just float. If one became overheated, the cold water was right there to splash on oneself. By this time, my friend had it with tenting and arranged to have a room.

We hot tubbed, swam and drank Melange a Tepid (that's what autocorrect did for me, does not recognize trois). According to our fellow riders, it just never cooled down back at the campsite making sleep uncomfortable. So much for the long range forecasts of highs of 80s and lows of 50-60s. We however had air-conditioning.


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