Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Southeast Asia Part 1

Some of you may have gotten this as an email....


I'm not sure how to sum up into words everything we saw, but I'm going to give it a try!

The first night in Singapore we stayed at a backpackers hostel, which is the preferred way of staying places if I don't have a floor or a couch to crash on. The hostel was really great, with awesome company and a whole bunch of people in town from Europe and south Africa for southeast Asia's biggest dance music festival, Zouk Out. This festival takes place on Sentosa Island, which is kind of like the Coney Island (but much more shiny) of Singapore, and has over 30,000 attendees every year.

We only stayed there a night because we had made arrangements to stay with my Brother and his Fiancee. They live on the far east side of town, in a very "regular" Singaporean neighborhood, which was nice because it kept us away from the city center, where it was tourism galore. We took the very clean subway, called the MRT (there is a 500 fine for eating on the subway there!) across town to his house, and met my brother there. He lives in a very typical, older Asian flat with three bedrooms and familiar looking marble floors reminiscent of the ones in my childhood homes. They will soon be knocking down the 30 story, 5 building complex to make a bigger one!

The most striking thing about Singapore is how crowded it is. There isn't a place you can go where you can be alone. Jon and I noticed this quite distinctly because we had previously been living in the country in Michigan and now we live on the edge of town in Colorado!

Being in Singapore was family time - I feel like we got to know Shi-Hsia's (my brother's wife) brothers and sisters better - one is a social worker and the other one is a professional break dancer. Despite hanging out with them a lot we still got to see quite a bit. Jon and I went to the Hawker's which are basically food courts where you buy stuff out of little stalls. They are noisy, crowded and you have to really hunt to find a seat at lunch and dinner time! Most of them are open air complexes, usually next to wet markets, which are places where you can buy fresh seafood, caught that morning and then packed on ice. Around noon the seafood looses it's "just caught" freshness so the meat stalls close up. You can also buy household things like brooms, or vegetables, or fake designer handbags. It's like an American flea market meets farmers market, and they go on all day. At the hawkers, a meal costs about 3.50 Singaporean, which is about 2 - 3 bucks US! Both of us ate regularly for under 10 dollars a meal, including drinks and desert. Jon's preferred method was looking for the word "vegetarian food" in the stall sign, while I picked the longest line and ordered whatever the person in front of me ordered. This led to some interesting dishes to pick through, most of them really excellent!

Jon and I also went to sentosa, not for Zouk out, though. We just wanted to go swimming in the oppressive heat and humidity (it was 94 degrees with 94% humidity every day!). As it turns out, sentosa island is the lowest point on Continental Asia and I have the pictures by the signs to prove it!

We headed out to little India a lot, and it proved to be my favorite neighborhood there. It not only housed the fabric district of Singapore where you could bargain down the incredible silks and brocades, but you could see fabric buyers for some of the haute couture houses picking up bolts and bolts of some of the most incredible, sparkling, and intricate fabric I have ever seen. At one fabric house, panels of handmade, hand beaded lace were going for 3,000 SD a meter! I purchased a meter and a half of incredible silk after some furious bargaining (it was way above my price range to begin with...) and later had it made into a dress for the wedding in Malaysia.

Another treat was walking by a temple on our way to dinner one evening that was hosting an Indian wedding - I have never seen such a technicolor wedding in my life - the women were dressed in pinks and blues and turquoises, yellows and roses, and the bride alone stood out in pounds of gold jewelry and a red sari with so much gold woven in she might have set off a metal detector if she would have needed to walk through.

We toured several temples, which, for some reason, always feels a little invasive to me. I don't know what it is, but whenever I go to someones place of worship to look around and peer in like a tourist, I feel really rude. We went into the temple of 10,000 Buddhas, which is this incredible 5 story temple in the heart of Chinatown. It has a lush rooftop orchard garden with a prayer wheel housed in the center. Lining the walls of the rooftop and the inside walls of the prayer wheel house are 10,000 tiny Buddha's, all numbered and claimed by people. They are all gold, set against vermilion walls, in tidy never ending rows. We also went inside of a mosque. I had dressed knowing we would be visiting houses of worship that day, in long sleeves and a long skirt down to the floor, but Jon wore shorts and had to wear a robe over his clothes. The mosque was light, open and airy and in a hidden upstairs room, behind many long curtains, dressed under layers of fabric themselves were dozens of women praying, kneeling and looking ethereal in the dim light, murmuring their petitions. I think that's the most rude I felt the whole time - they take such great care to veil themselves and here we are just traipsing into something we hardly understand.

Despite pockets of the city transporting you back in history, or over to India, Singapore is a very modern city with a huge population of westerners. It's primary language is English, and every three steps there is an air conditioned mall. When the heat gets to oppressive or you need to find a clean, modern toilet, you can just jump into one and relax for a little bit. Jon and I didn't do a ton of shopping in Singapore because everything is quite expensive and pretty much stuff you could find over in the states (like J. Crew clothes and Marc Jacobs handbags....).

Jon and I had coffee one morning in an empty coffee shop and the women serving coffee had studied graphic design in California and was trying to explain, to her, the difference between her life there and her life here in Singapore. "Here, everyone just shop, shop, shop, shops....they shop for things they need and things they don't need! The national hobby is shopping! In California I would go to Joshua tree and the Forrest with the redwoods but here we just go shopping." She went on to explain that she really missed the laid back attitude of the united states, as well as the national parkland, but her family was in Singapore. I think her assessment of a very shopping-oriented culture is correct, and never was able to find a place without some sort of mall.

Our trip to Singapore quickly came to a close, and we headed back for a puddle jump flight to Malaysia. I assume that this email is enough for you all to read in a morning and I'll send you part two of the Saga tomorrow! This will involve hiking in the jungle and losing our water down an open sewage ditch, trying to understand the political ramifications of colonialism, and my mother in law getting attacked by a monkey. (sorry Lynn, I have to put that one in :)

I have many, many pictures posted up here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/royal_wedding/collections/72157622985395406/

Monday, December 21, 2009

Singapore

JR and I had the priveledge of doing a little traveling here and there...we flew from Denver to NYC (Thank you Robin for dropping us off at the airport!), and spent the time in the airport waiting for our flight to Tokyo camped out, sleeping on the floor. From Tokyo we flew to Singapore, which is a tiny, crowded city state. It has bustling streets, a beautiful little India and Chinatown, and many, many temples. It also is COVERED in malls. It was really hard to do anything "outdoorsey" in Singapore, because the entire place is pretty much populated. The only "natural" places is a nature preserve that we heard about but never made it to.

The national hobby in Singapore is shopping, and there is a shopping center about every two feet. It's crazy. There is a street called Arab street that is covered in fabric shops, particularly silk shops...it's pretty much heaven to me and rivals the Fabric District in NYC...because it is bigger and much much cheaper. I saw quite a few people buying yards and yards of fabric for fashion houses. I also had the privilege of going into this room that holds fabrics that are 3000 Singaporian dollars a yard and up. They were these incredible hand beaded laces, these very fine silks, they were just incredible and lush. I imagine that may be a place where some couturiers pick up some of their fabrics.

I picked up a meter and a half of a printed silk to have made into a dress. I had it made in Malaysia which is quite a bit cheaper than Singapore.

Singapore was good, though, I enjoyed the weather (I hear Colorado, and the East Coast, where we head next, is covered in snow!) which was about 94 degrees and 94 percent humidity! That's my favorite weather - hot and sticky!

Here are some pictures!



Jon and I Camping at JFK...



We stayed at a backpacker hostel the first night in SG before we moved into my brother and Sister-in-law's place...you can write on the walls there...



At Sentosa Island, which is like the Singaporean Disneyland...they are actually building a universal studios there...



Self Explanatory....



This is the spiciest meal I've ever eaten in my life. Seriously. This dish brought me to tears and I have a realllllly high spice tolerance that impressed the Malaysians I met on this trip...

So that's it for pictures for now, I'm trying to upload over 800 pictures on the Changi Airport Wireless Connection (EG: slooooooow....). You are free to check out whatever I've uploaded at my flickr here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/royal_wedding/

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

The Final Michigan Days...

I am wrapping up my last week here in Michigan - in less than a week now I will be loading my things into a trailer and making the 1,200 mile drive to join my husband in Fort Collins, Colorado.

I have spent about 18 months in the great sinking state of Michigan. I feel privileged to have had the opportunity to live in Detroit, to really test my strength and pioneering spirit there. I am thankful I was able to start married life in the little cottage on the lake I am leaving now. (I am going to miss this house...). I have made some amazing, beautiful friends. I have cycled up and down the roads, and been through most of the trail systems in South East Michigan (and one in Canada, too!) I've learned to kayak and have seen some beautiful places. It's been a good run, Michigan.

While I still can't tell the schools apart (which is Michigan state? Which is the other one? I just call them "mgoblue" and "that one with the 's'") and I grumble at the drivers, and the way the politicians and people handle things, I have, overall, really learned a lot and enjoyed my time here...

I am starting a new chapter in life (It seems like I start a new chapter every three months or so, doesn't it? Moving, moving again, marriage, moving again :) and we are happy to finally be doing something we have always dreamed of - living next to the Rocky Mountains.

Also, as an added bonus, I get to participate in my dream job for a little bit - I get to be a stay at home lady :) My Primary Focus is going to be school, but in the interest of finance I will be defering the grad school part of coursework until we have resdency. After that, the program will take two years. I will defenently get a job at some point, but for the month or two until then I get do my favorite thing and...keep house!

Additionally, I have some General Ed Requirements in order to get the Teaching Certificate - Including three semesters of a Foreign Language. While Wisconsin only required 2 years of a high school Foreign Language, Colorado requires three years, or alternatively, three semesters. Right now I'm trying to decide which one to take - the possibilities are endless - I can keep working on french (I would probably need to re-take first semester...), start Spanish, which is a useful language in the United States, or move onto something else like Italian, Thai, Korean, or Chineese. Who knows!

Although I am overwhelmed with moving, I am excited to see JR again and set up house, as well as see what life is like on the Northern Front Range.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Elizabeth By Numbers - 1 through 10

1 - number of times I have been married :)
2 - number of years I have been eating gluten free
3 - number of fully built bikes I currently own: A mountain bike, a road bike, and a commuter bike. I have lots of parts and a frame or two sitting around...but...I'm not counting them :)
4 - number of lipsticks I own: Mac's Russian Red and Ruby Woo, A random Dior Shade, and random smashbox shade. I mostly wear the russian red and the smashbox shade.
5 - number of pairs of cycling shoes I've been through: cannondale tourers (those things sucked!), Adidas mountain biking shoes (those things sucked too!) Sidi road shoes, Sidi Tri shoes, and Sidi mountain biking shoes (those three pairs do not suck and they are currently what I wear!)
6 - number of women in my wedding party, including myself!
7 - number of grandkids on my mom's side of my family - my two siblings and myself, and my four cousins.
8 - number of vitamins I take before I go to bed - 3 vitamin C's, 1 Garlic, 3 physillium husks, 1 multi vitamin. As a bonus, I also take a tablespoon of blackstrap molasses before I go to bed.
9 - number of hours I have ridden my bike this week
10 - number of pushups I can do before I flop over (on a good day...)

Sunday, November 08, 2009

When Peace Like a River Attendeth My Soul

I have had that hymn stuck in my head for the last two days. I really really believe that it's a great hymn and I'm happy it's stuck in my head.

I rode my bike for just over two hours today, at a moderate clip (for the offseason...) with some of the women from my cycling team. The weather is beautiful here - 66 degrees! I was able to ride with only a jersey and shorts - my back pockets (or "back fat" as C calls it...) were chocka full of mittens, legwarmers, armwarmers. We did stop about 45 minutes in to peel off layers!

After the ride we went out for brunch, which was nice and relaxing and felt nice to eat after spending time on the bike with only a smoothie for breakfast! I had a 'mediteranian" Omlette with black beans and fetta cheese (why that is mediteranian, I don't know...but it was good none the less!) I handed my toast over to C and on her coaxing took the hasbrowns home. I'm not sure if I'll ever eat them, but we'll see!

After brunch I went to the Co-op while I was in AA and picked up some things I've been meaning to get and restocked my fridge with veggies. I was down to JUST broccoli!!! How did I let that happen?!?

When I am eating on my own I do pretty well healthwise. It's when I'm with JR and we have to stock up on quantity, not so much quality, I don't do so well. I can actually tell a difference in the week or so he's been gone and I've been cooking to myself. I feel more alert, awake, healthier, and like things are "working" better, biomechanically. I really need to figure out how to up the grocery budget *sigh* that's one thing I miss about my single days! And lets just put it this way: we both eat a TON because we ride a lot. The problem is that he will finish an ENTIRE meal off while I usually can cook something and it'll last at least another day. I don't want to go back though! Healthy feels so good!!

This week was my first of training for 2010, which is good. I've been waiting to start and have just been riding hooptie rides and puttering around town for fun. I can say this past year has not been so great on the bike, I've only done a handful of races, my team pretty much disolved halfway through the season since the person who was running it moved away and there wasn't an existing structure to sustain it (which I guess I later became, but that's a WHOLE 'nother post...) I got married, and I had a minor medical problem towards the end of the season that kept me off my bike for about two weeks as per doctors orders. So, in essence, I feel out of shape and am very excited to be back on the bike in a consistant manner. I'm excited to see how this season in CO shapes up. I feel like the fields will be deeper and know the races will be harder (ie not michigan flat!) so I'll be hanging around at the back of the pack for the year, but I think (know!) work will pay off.

I'm tired from riding today and a stressful week at work, so I'm going to go do what every good cyclist does...take a nap.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

The Convent

I have been struggling to come up with the words to explain how the weekend I spent at the convent before I got married influenced my life, but I can't come up with the right way to say it. Perhaps I'm not supposed to and that tiny but profound moment in my life should be kept between myself and the Divine.

Perhaps some things are better left unsaid.

But if you want to try, you can listen to this and perhaps understand a little better, without me writing endless paragraphs about the experience:



Friday, September 11, 2009

New Shoes!

I got these confections of a shoe on super-duper sale ($13!) at REI tonight!



And with all these good things about them, I don't feel guilty about it at all!
  • The Big Kid's Macaroon is a vegan friendly and veggie friendly shoe; contains no animal products or byproducts.
  • Certified 100% organic heart printed cotton uppers
  • A Mary Jane style with certified 100% organic cotton linings
  • EVA pedbed covered with certified 100% organic cotton
  • Yes, those outsoles used to be a car tire
  • Vulcanized rubber sidewalls, toecaps, and heelcaps
  • 100% post-consumer paper pulp foot forms

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

A little house tour - How we live!


I love our tiny house! One of the best things about living small is that you neither need a lot of stuff nor want to keep a lot of stuff! After my last post on "stuff" I got a question or two about how much stuff we actually have and how we keep it.

We have had to get creative with storage, toss out quite a bit of stuff, and make sure we don't have anything we don't need and don't love in our house. After taking these pictures, though, I still want to decluttter more, mainly in the bathroom and the yoga studio/harem (you will have to look at the pictures to figure that room out!).

For your viewing pleasure, I put up a flickr set that details what my house looks like here.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Date Night


Traversing the bouldering cave at the rock climbing gym.

Every Tuesday, Jon and I have date night. Throughout our relationship, ever since it got "serious," we have had a once a week time that we designate as an open forum. Date night has always been a time when we enjoy the simple pleasures that we both enjoy - bike rides, walks, kayaking on our lake, dinners to restaurants we enjoy. They never need be expensive or exhausting. We have had many free date nights close to our house! Now, however, we do budget a certain amount of money every pay check to use on date night. I like a respite from the kitchen once a week! Despite the different activities we do, we always make time to have conversation that revolves specifically around us. We do, of course, discuss other things, but this is "relationship work time."

We have a tradition of asking these four questions:

What is good in our relationship?
What is bad in our relationship?
What are your dreams?
How can I help you achieve them?
I'm sure as life progresses those questions will change or be added on to, but for now they suffice. They give us an open, neutral space to discuss our relationship, help us to stay in touch with each other's perceptions of it, and figure out what is going on in the hearts of our spouses. While some people may not need a designated set of questions, we find it helpful!

For the past three weeks, date night has consisted of rock climbing and dinner out. I think that these have been some of the most fun date nights!

Monday, August 24, 2009

The Whisper in the Rubble


One of my favorite stories in the Bible is the story of Elijah - Elijah probably had one of the hardest vocation in the world - prophet in a society that really didn't like him. Elijah, hunted by Jezebel, flees to the desert and cries out to God in the middle of his pain and human anguish. God, watching out for his beloved and chosen feeds him, then takes him to the mountain. This is what transpires:

1 Kings 19:11-13
"Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper. When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face."
Much has been written about the significance of God's whisper here, and I have mulled this over a lot when I have been seeking to follow God's will. I am guilty of searching for the earthquake, the fire, the whipping wind. I want God to have giant flashing bulbs and arrows point in the direction I need to go, but it doesn't usually work like that. Sometimes God's silence is the answer.

To write candidly, this year has been the first time in my life that there has been a very clear silence from God. It was terrifying. It lasted for what seemed like forever. I searched and searched for his ever-present quiet whisper, those gentle nudges. I wish I would have found this passage earlier, because I would have known what would have come next - a conversation with God and the sweet relief of direction. (oh, but it's so hard to GO in that direction sometime! A whole 'nother post can be written on that!)

So - back to the story. God was there, quite after the violently whipping wind, earthquake and fire. Elijah, knowing better to look at God, pulled his cloak over his face and had a little conversation with God that went something like this:

Elijah: "God! What should I do?"
(paraphrasing mine.)
God: Go find these people and tell them what they need to do! I'll make it work!
And guess what - Elijah, the hunted, the hated, the divinely inspired, went down off the mountain where he had known fire and wind and movement and then finally, peace. He did what he was told to do, and God watched this, blessed him, and continued his presence in Elijah's life.

Photo by SLworking2

Sunday, August 23, 2009

The Five Mile Challenge


Jon and I are on a quest for simplicity. We've been on this particular mission quite a while, and I have to admit that living in the country has simplified a few things in my life - I don't have the rush of things to do, decisions to make, and life certainly does go slower (though the weeks fly by still!). Our food is more and more local since things grow, well, right down the block. We "commune with nature" a whole lot more, since we live right in the middle of it, too!

However, we drive more. One thing about michigan is that it is just so darn car friendly and just so darn bike unfriendly - at least outside of the People's Republic of Ann Arbor. I have, even a year later, still not adjusted to the fact that what was 25 or 35 in Wisconsin is 45 (and since everyone goes ten over, it's more like 55!)

I had pretty much given up on bike commuting. Until, that is, Jon pointed out that we drive so much and everything is pretty much close by! *According to the Nationwide Personal Transportation Survey, 25 percent of all trips are made within a mile of the home, 40 percent of all trips are within two miles of the home, and 50 percent of the working population commutes five miles or less to work. Yet more than 82 percent of trips five miles or less are made by personal motor vehicle. Oops...and I call myself a cyclist!

Jon and I have decided that all trips five miles or less are going to, from here on out, be done via human power! He has also promised me he's going to finish the grocery getter bike tomorrow before work so I can effectively do this. In milwaukee, I NEVER had to think or deliberate about whether or not I'd hop on my bike to go somewhere - I would just do it...I have lost that moving out in the country.

I'm not sure what killed the commuting spark, perhaps the asshole michigan drivers, the really high speed limits, or facing commuting death on a daily basis? Or, maybe it was the one time I commuted the 55 miles home from work on our first 97 degree day, which included a two mile stretch down woodward...but, I'm ready to give it a try on a smaller scale, with the five mile challenge, and get back to my commuter roots.

Photo Credit: Amsterdamize
*Source: League of American Bicyclists

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Happy Father's Day Dad!

“Remember to pack a snake bite kit!” he admonished me. “When I was in boy scouts, I watched a boy’s life get saved by someone who had one and knew how to use it.”

I cradled the phone to my head and smiled, knowing that even though he isn’t here to double check my pack I know that I will be hiking up the side of a canyon in true boy scout fashion, with every little gizmo and gadget I need to save my life come water, wind or fire. This is not because I am a boy scout (and never will be one, since I am a girl!) – this is my dad’s long distance way of protecting his daughter. He, among other things, has taught me how to survive the wilderness.


I was raised by an amazing father. We, of course, were not without disagreements but our relationship is like a rare vintage – better with age. My Dad is an incredible man, who has raised three incredible children, married one incredible women, and worships an incredible Savior.


My dad is a country boy for sure – he was raised in the north woods of Wisconsin and sometimes, if you listen closely, has just the slightest bit of a north woods accent. He doesn’t like it but I find it charming in the same way I find Jon cute when he slips into that tiny southern accent while talking with his mom or grandma on the phone. I know he is very content when he is out in the woods sleeping in a tent with his civil war re-enacting buddies, or hunting.

My Dad didn’t have an easy life growing up, but it hasn’t left him bitter. Instead he is the gentlest person you will ever meet. When life is hard through someone else’s doing you can go two directions - you become mean and hardened to the world, or you go the opposite way and try to alleviate the suffering of other people because you know what it’s like to hurt. We are so very fortunate that he went the second way. My dad works with senior adults at a church and he loves these people with a passion that I know comes through the practice of loving people like Jesus. I am constantly amazed at the breadth and depth of his love for the people he works with, and it comes out with every word he speaks and action he takes.


My Dad’s most under-rated talent is being a Dad and husband, though. He doesn’t get public recognition for this and no one gives him a paycheck, but he puts in an incredible amount of energy into raising and protecting and loving his family. If every girl had as an amazing father as I did then the world would have no ills.

I took a walk yesterday, around my neighborhood, and saw a dad tossing a baseball with his daughter, who looked like she was about twelve or thirteen. She was pitching and he was catching, and when she pitched a ball that went under the deck he said “Don’t worry, I’ll get that for you honey!” Down he went under the deck, into the mud so she wouldn’t have too. I wanted so badly to go up to the girl and say “Look what you have! You are so blessed because you are so far ahead of the world! I see in his face how much he loves you, to sit out here and joke around and crawl under the porch and rescue the mis-pitched balls so you don’t have to go by the spiders!” but instead I just smiled, walked on and remembered the incredible kindness and love my own dad has shown me!


I will never be able to write down all the small kindnesses that my dad has given me, all the time and instruction he has invested in me. When I was young I thought certain experiences were the most important – going to prom, for example – but as an adult, the things that I remember are not that. I remember my dad promised me an airplane ride if I memorized my times tables. He must have scrimped and saved to take his daughter up in a tiny little airplane but I dutifully memorized my times tables and up we went, flying high above the tiny town in which we lived. I also remember when he surprised me by buying me a soccer jacket that the rest of the team had purchased, but I didn’t ask since I didn’t think I could afford it. I still have that jacket – it has my name and number on it. My dad went camping with me, taught me to shoot a gun and use a compass, how to appreciate God’s vast beauty and that you should never drink untreated water.


My dad also taught me to never be in a relationship where I was not respected, to work hard, and to value my femininity. He used to take my sister and I out on “dates” as a little girl. I know I wouldn’t have ever gotten through my awkward teenage years without him constantly telling me I was beautiful, and I had inherited the “good” genes in the family. (Sometimes when you’re feeling awkward and gangly, knowing you had the right genes behind you is a blessing!)


I both my parents with my spiritual upbringing and my deep hunger for God. From my mother I learned prayer, and from my father I learned devotion. Every morning of my life and still, when I come home to visit, I see my father leaning over his bible. I know that without his example I would not have such a great spiritual life.


I just want to say that without my dad my life would not be as fun as it is. I always say “I am my father’s daughter” because I have inherited a lot of his personality.


So, thanks Dad! I love you!

Friday, May 08, 2009

The world is wonderful!

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

First Races

Somehow the race season snuck up on me! All the sudden I had to pack a bag, drive to a race, race, drive, unpack, repack, sleep, drive, race, unpack, do laundry and sleep.

It all feels familiar, which is good. It's been a year and a month of racing, almost a year and two months.

I guess here's my weekend in pictures.

I have to start you off with a link since I can't save this pictures since even though it's of me it doesn't belong to me.

Here's me racing the Time Trial:


http://www.sb.smugmug.com/gallery/8008483_wLJim#521887687_uRUtL-L-LB

This was my first race in a 1/2/3 catagory and I got, well...frankly...I got smoked.

There were some problems with bike fit that made it one of the most miserable rides I've had in awhile as well as a cramp that happened on the second to last lap that slowed me down a bit and made me catch my breath. What I thought was a cramp was probably a strain from pushing in a bad position since it hindered Sunday's racing as well.

I was fried from Saturday's race, so I decided to race again on Sunday for fun and relaxation. Jon and I loaded up the car and did our first "family" racing event (you know the type of people that load up the car and have a good ol' time at the MTB race drinking beers and swapping tall mountain bike tales? that's us now I guess!)

Jon raced sport (Say it with me now! Sandbagger!) because he didn't have a current licence. I raced beginner (Say it with me now! Sandbagger!) because I was fried from the 1/2/3 race. He went off the line first and came in on time to see me off.



(Him muddy...me...not so much yet!)

My race started poorly, was pretty tough in the middle and ended poorly with a glimmer of "where'd I get the energy to chase that guy down?" at the very end.

I was suffering right off the line fried from yesterday and the pulled muscles in my right leg kept nagging at any climb I had to do little bursts of power for. Ouch! I ran out of water around mile 4 of 9, which was particularily bad because they sent me out the gate at high noon, so I was racing in the worst heat of an 80 degree day. Usually I LOVE heat but the heat and coolness of spring is so sporatic that I haven't gotten a chance to get used to it. My max heart rate was 205 for this race, I think, and I'm still recouperating from the sunburn that I have from that race.

Karen, the women in second caught me and I said "congraduations" when she passed because I knew there was no way I could even hope to chase her down. Later on the podium we promised eachother another showdown in another race.



(That's me fried after the race.)

I have to say that the course was AWESOME! Despite being in a whole lot of pain I really loved the perfect loops and ups and downs and flowyness of the trail. It's pretty hilly and the decents are technical (which I am bad at...) but I was so exhausted that I just rattled my way down the hills, and back up them. I want to go there with fresh legs someday to just enjoy it and ride it at a comfortable pace. It's kind of like the Kettles in Wisco, but the hills are bigger and it's rockier.



(This is my favorite picture from the race...Jon won and, used to bigger podiums, did the victory salute and the other guys, who are random sport mountain bike racers were like "what is this guy doing?")



(Karen and I in 1 and 2...)

ETA:

Here's a link to the shot of me racing. This is ALMOST indecent because my jersey was unzipped so far. Oops....

http://tenmilemedia.smugmug.com/gallery/8031308_uHHBf#522891591_XhWBv-L-LB

Sunday, April 05, 2009

Race Schedule for the Year

This post may become a sidebar...kind of like what's on everyone else's bike blog...but for now it's just a post :)

I have a sort of "set" schedule of races I need to be doing this season, so those are all on there, as well as ones I want to do for myself. I want to do a quarter more races this year, so that will bring the total up to 23 or 24 this year...It's not a lot...but at the same time it is a lot when you factor in travel and time and training and race entry fees and blah blah blah.

I'm a baby cat 3 this year (there, I said it...I'm a cat three...scary!) so I don't expect to do super hot in the Pro 1/2/3 fields this year but racing fast is a good way to get fast, I guess...I was doing middle to front of the road pack and winning most of the mountain bike races at the end of my season (cut short by elections and injury), but I think mountain biking comes more naturally to me than road does when I think about it. I get seriously ELATED to be in the woods riding my bike, I can't really describe it but I love mountain biking and the time flies when I'm out there...It's like all of the sudden it's 3 hours later and it's time to go home.

I will be trying track in May with the assurance and coaching of my Veteran Track dude roommate/spouse/coach/biggest fan. I will probably just go down to the track for their beginners clinics since I'm an absolute beginner at that.

You may even see me trying cross in the fall if my season is still fun by then :)

I'm missing a big chunk of July because I'm getting married then, as well...right in peak season...hah!

Okay, here is my wishlist of races, and these are subject to change.

April:
25th - Willow TT - 10th
26th - Pontiac Lake TT (MTB) -2nd

May:
3rd - Cone Azaila - DNF
17th - Bloomer Park XC (Can't do Kensington because of a work commitment, but I can do this MTB race) - No Dice, Traveling!
23rd - Tour of Frankenmouth
30th - West Branch Road Race OR
31st - TT on the Track (depending on how my Track abilities go...) OR
30th - 31st - some sort of MTB stage race thing right around my house at brighton. That sounds fun! - Can't do these, Traveling!

June:
7th - Td Cedar Creek
13th and 14th - Td Mont Pleasant Crit and RR (though this may not happen, depending on how Worn out I am from the 5 successive weeks of racing...) OR
14th - XC Ruby Campground...Hmm..maybe a MTB ride to break things up a little (or maybe a break :)
20th - Allen Park Crit
21st - Wolv. State TT
26th - 28th - Superior Bike Fest OR
27th - Stony Creek marathon XC if we are not going to superior

July:
Getting Married, Honeymooning. Don't expect to see me racing much :)

August:
1st - Mosiac/ADA crit
7th and 8th - Hmm...qualifiers for track. I'm shooting for the moon here but who says I can't :)
9th - Hines Park TT
22nd - Milford Crit
23rd - E. Grand Rapids Crit
29th - Cherry Robaix Crit
30th - Cherry Robaix RR

September:
5th - Trophee d Grimpeurs
7th - Debates Devos Crit (it's a monday so I have to see about work...)

October:
Dunno...maybe cross? Maybe not? I should, but it'd be just another bike to buy...

November:
7th - Iceman.

So that's 28 races scheduled, with some pick and choose depending on schedules/travel/what races the teams are going to do/how much I like track racing...we'll see how that goes!

Saturday, April 04, 2009

New bike Puzzle...




Oh yeah, and some of this, too:




Can you put this puzzle together?

That's the new bike :) YAY!

Friday, April 03, 2009

woah!

I dropped two dudes in the woods yesterday! On trails I'd never ridden before, too! As I pulled away I heard them say "Oh man, she's fast too! Hey Wait!"

Granted they were easy trails, but...that would never have happened last year ;) Something must be working!

Have you noticed that this blog is mostly a bike blog these days? I think it's official that the sport has taken over my life. Welll...what can you do.

Anyways, I have an off day so I'm using the time to clean up the house, file a stack of papers that has been sitting around, draft the budget for the next paycheck, and watch a movie that is pretty overdue to the library. I am also going to hit the hay early since I'm pretty wiped out from this past week, and the grey skies don't help! I have three hours tomorrow, which I am doing on my own since the road bike is still in the shop and there's no way I'm trying a group ride on the mountain bike. That's a bit over my head.

I'm planning on hitting the trails tomorrow AM if they are dry (things are sandy around here so they dry fast...) until I start steering into trees, and then I will switch to the road where I can wobble a lot more without crashing into foliage. If things are wet, well..I guess I go around island lake and kensington on their roads for three hours, avoiding all the triathletes that can't see me because they are SO AERO!!!!! and can't look up to avoid crashing into people.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Life as a pair of Athletes

Regarding a conversation about crank sets I wanted to buy and dance class I wanted to take:

"Elizabeth, as your coach, I don't think ballet class is a good idea....And, as your Fiancee, I don't think those carbon campy record cranks are a good idea!"

And, still in his coach mode, while watching me run around the track at 8:30 PM, as he sat on the cold bleachers:

"What are you doing walking? I'm not sitting here in the dark and cold to watch you WALK around the track! Go Run!"

I have great motivation for this sport ;)

Monday, March 30, 2009

Once I used to Ramble

I found a blog I kept from about 1999 to 2005. It chronicles only about half of that because in a fit of anger I took down a lot of it, so really it just chronicles the first few years of college, my anger at my parents (Before I got over it and moved on...) and a relationship that ended years ago and seems so far away (but was this anxious, contentious, beautiful part of my life for so long!)

It's interesting to read over these things, as if reading the past can help me predict the future.

I had forgotten how much I have done. I have gone around the world and back in terms of change.

And what luxury! (To be able to change who you are on a whim or a blink!)

But how real!! those experiences were. How beautiful and exciting and new everything was there! I lived and lived and lived, and my eyes were so bright they glistened like two bright stars in warm velvet skies. I was anxious for each next day because I knew it would be different, exciting.

So now I'm reading this journal of this cheeky, witty girl, who was entirely assured of herself (it comes through the writing) that never ate a thing (I talk about my weight and the food I eat SO MUCH...but again, I was a ballet dancer at the time...not that it's an excuse) and wore the most fabulous clothes. She fights with her boyfriend (every third post or so...) and publicly announces that sort of thing, brags about trips to Chicago to hang out with sort of famous people, and racks up scene points like no one else's business.

Who was that girl? Was that really me starving and running the show?



Here is an excerpt for you, a post entitled "I am a bad band girlfriend"

I don't know how I've come to almost hate everything I used to love. I hate music now, I hate movies, I hate riding my bicycle.

I don't know what I like anymore. I just sit in my apartment and read about other people's real or imagined lives and decide that I hate music and I suffer every time I listen to it, and that movies are pointless and make me fidget.

When I started this, I took great pride in filling out the "Music I listened to" section, placing lyrics here with gusto, and ranting and raving about my favorite artists. Now it is all meaningless. I never wanted to be a musician. It was enough for me that I could play one song from Amelie, the moonlight sonata, and make a few others. I never tried to find people to play in bands with me. But I loved everything about other peoples music. The blanket that encases you, the removal from your emotions, and even the ability to redefine and streamline what you feel. Give it words and wings.

And now when I listen to things, I feel and hear noise and never anything productive, soothing or charging. I don't want words anymore. I think I could dance just as well in silence as I could to music, and I do it often. Perfection of technique, and style, when you are dancing to a click. Who needs musicallity anyways?

I have been dating someone who has built their life around music. Recording it, playing it, listening to it, collecting it. All memories and thoughts tie to that in some way. I wonder if, when he is lying in bed next to me, he thinks "This reminds me of the first time I heard green day." I wouldn't be angry if it was, but simply curious because then there is absolutely no independence from music. I am to be measured in song, and not myself.

Perhaps I don't like it because the gratification of all things related to it will never measure up to the gratification he receives. In the first year I met him, I went to every show except two. I know. Because I counted. Now I don't go to any. I did everything I could to help him, schedule, encourage, become a sounding board, listen to things about band problems. I watched him smile and play and enjoy himself. I heard about every single piece of new equipment, ten thousand times over. I listened to him rant when his show went horrible, he couldn't fit practices with his one million bands in a week, or his studio was having problems. Wisely, someone gently told me to step out of that situation, exactly at the moment I was starting to burn out and other people were starting to bring me their problems problems with him in the bands, and I did. And I have hated music ever since. I don't care if it is shellac, or bright eyes, or fiona apple. Even tori amos brings no joy any more.

And now, I do listen to him talk about music, because that is what he knows. It brings him joy and in turn brings me joy, but I cannot participate. I can only go so far. Never far enough to make it fun, but far enough to exhaust myself, wear myself out, and that is exactly the problem with being a band girlfreind.

Maybe someday he'll at least put me in the liner notes. Or, since I do not listen to music now, he won't.

I am going to symphony tonight with a friend of mine. He and I have not known each other very long, but we wear hats and walk on the beach in the snow. I cannot imagine starving for music the way they did a hundred years ago. No records, no cds, nothing but live orchestra's. Perhaps that is now it should be for awhile. A starvation diet to make things right. That is my usual cure.

So tonight I will dress up, and leave the boyfreind behind. He will go to someones house and play risk, or maybe to the studio and have a band practice. I will watch violins and cellos, and drown. I will come home and he will say, like he did when I told him I was going, that he didn't think the symphony was a big deal. And I will tell him, for once, that I hate music and everything it entails and he will break up with me on the spot.

Or he will snatch back the records he has given me, his cds, and our conversation will end for good because he will have nothing to talk about.

or he will ignore it, and everything will keep on going. The same. For ever and ever and ever.

And I will have to put on a hat and walk on the beach. And all the noise will become music to me.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Progress in the Garden



Started some seedlings



Jon helped me put together the raised bed walls - I accidentally picked out some hardwood instead of the cheap pine but maybe it'll last longer. We broke two drill bits!



I also made a pea and bean trellis out of sticks. I love budget gardening! The pea trellis is missing horizontal supports and some twine to make it look pretty and cover up the twist tie wire that I have holding it up now.


Saturday, March 21, 2009

Productive Day!

Rarely do I have such a productive day as this!

Here is what I did:
  • Cleaned the kitchen
  • Cleaned the living room
  • Cleaned the bathroom
  • Did a load of laundry and hung it outside to dry
  • Tidied the bedroom
  • Finished a book on finance
  • Staked out the garden and edged the boarder with sticks.
  • Put cardboard on top of garden to start killing grass
  • Put away clothes
  • Road two and a half hours on my bike with a new friend
  • Had coffee with said new friend
  • came home and cleaned the shed
  • Tilled (With a hand tiller!) the garden plot and flipped the grass
  • Took compost bucket and buried and spread it in garden
  • Bleached old pots to ready for next season's growing plants and the herbs (which I want in pots on my porch to keep them from taking over the garden!
  • Started seeds in six packs - three types of peppers, and lavender
  • Cleaned up trench planter outside, introducing extra soil I had sitting around.
What a list! It makes me tired just looking at it! I aim to buy (and start) the rest of the seeds for the garden that are on my list, as well as buy and the 2x12's and brackets I need to make the raised bed! I'm so glad spring has sprung! It gives me new energy to be out in the warm weather working with my hands.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Lovely Things





Towels Drying in the Sun



Brick Patio Under Water



Old Bindings



Stack of Old Magazines to Thumb Through



Perfectly Made Bed



Neatly Organized Jewelry Drawer



The Start of an Inspiration Board



A Breakfast Table on the Front Porch



The Airy, Crisp Dining Room



The Flooded Lake Backing Up to the Porch



Setting the Indoor Plants out for some Sun



Long Road to the Mailbox



The Tall Stand of Trees

Monday, March 16, 2009

Some of my favorite parts of Detroit.






This last one is probably the best picture I've ever taken in my entire life.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Another blog!



My new blog is my grown up solution to stylediary :)

All my clothes get their very own blog! Be forewarned, I only own two pairs of wearable jeans so there will probably be a lot of repeats in the pants department!


Friday, March 13, 2009

Grief


"And grief is a measure of your relationship..." -Luci

I have been lucky to not have lost much in my life - the people who I love and cherish are still here, walking bodies among the living. I can call them, talk to them, cuddle them, have them open the jars when they get stuck.

But for some reason, as I get closer and closer to my wedding I am re-grieving just a bit for my grandpa who died in 2004 - almost five years ago. I think it has to do with the fact that he won't be there to dance with me, and one of my favorite memories of him was of us dancing to the wind up Victrola in his den, with a tinny song on a shellac record lulling us with the words "I'll dance with you at my wedding..."

(
I only cry in the mornings now, about these things, and only in sunrises. These early spring mornings, when I imagine walking out on the frosty yard with him and remember the sharpness of the cold air and the crispness of the frost on the ground, silence with him, just being inside his weathered, wisened universe.)

We were waltzing around the room, or maybe it was a box step - I can't remember the tempo now, though I remember the melody and he stepped back and looked at me, realizing, I think, at that moment, that I wasn't a little girl any more. (this was 2003 - I had just graduated high school). I promised him a dance at my wedding, and here I am, four years later, with that promise still standing - and it aches a little bit.

It hurts twice as bad but is just as sweet to know that my grandpa would have LOVED Jon. They would have been best friends and it aches to know that they won't meet each other. I can see my grandpa and Jon together in the woodshop in the garage, feeding logs to that rusty barrel stove, creating all sorts of little knick knacks. Jon would have remembered with him, and soaked up the stories of the farm, of dexter and prince, the clydesdales, of his mothers and sisters. My grandpa would have taught jon the names of all of the different types of cows, and together they would have worked in the garden. And I know that Jon would have richley rewarded grandpa's life too. They both love honest hard work, and have that incredible admiration to the earth and all it holds, finding beauty in tree leaves and forrests and God's incredible outdoors. I wish they could have met. Grandpa could rest easy knowing that his granddaughter would be okay, because I am in the hands of an honest, upright man.






Thursday, March 05, 2009

Misconceptions about Moving to Michigan


Note: this post title has a lot of alliteration!

There is a place that I drive by every so often called "Madonna university." I used to think that it was called that because you know, Madge is from Michigan, and she MUST have funded a university that not too many people knew about!

Imagine my disappointment when I learned that was not the case...I really wanted to live by a school that had a degree in cone bras and loving material goods. Bummer...

There's not a whole lot going on in life right now that's interesting - I got a library card and got a bunch of books about gardening, so I've been reading those. I'm still ignoring wedding planning even though the dates about five months out. (EEK!) We haven't sent save the dates yet but those should be out next week. I need to make a wedding checklist to hand to Jon, and maybe, just maybe, get a little farther on my dress (If I'm ever allowed to be home this would happen...).

I have been rock climbing at the indoor wall at my gym, as well. That has been super fun and I'm getting better, but my hands are being ripped apart. I was reduced to duct taping some fingers in order to climb today. I'm subbing rock climbing for my upper body instead of doing whatever exercises, and I can really feel it. An hour on the wall (and I don't just daintily climb, I like to do things like this ninja move where I jump and try to catch the holds...) leaves me feeling really exhausted and sore, with the exact same muscles aching that would usually be done in the gym.

Rock climbing is a sport that really really pushes the limits for me in a way nothing else can - I'm terrified of heights. I'm the girl that cried on a Ferris wheel because it was too high once, and had to be coaxed up the tour d'eiffle. I think it's funny that I enjoy the sport and it's strange (to this cyclist) physical challenges so much, but I don't go up much. I usually go down, around, sideways, under, and over. I am slowly working my way up though, I get a little bit higher and a little bit more comfortable with being higher every time I go. I guess you could say I'm trying to conqure my fear of heights...

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Happy Birthday!



Happy Birthday Victor Hugo! He would have been 207 today!

"Certain thoughts are prayers. There are moments when, whatever be the attitude of the body, the soul is on its knees. "

More quotes from this great man all week in celebration of my favorite author's birthday!

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Snow Day!

Today I went to engage myself in party politics! I got up for the Hour Drive to the convention at about six o'clock and stumbled out to my car, eyes bleary with sleep. We were expecting a rather large snowfall today, but the snowfall had not hit, and instead I was greeted with a BRILLIANT, beautiful red and pink sunset. I don't usually get up with the sunrise, so I don't get to see many (I'm trying to remedy that...) but this is certainly one of the most beautiful of the handful of sunrises I've seen.

I made it to the convention in good time, registered, and settled in for a long day of politics. We had a GREAT turnout for a day that we were expecting eight to twelve inches of snow! After taking meeting minutes for not one but two caucuses (which involved lots of furious typing and not a few shenanigans) I headed back to South Lyon. By this time, the snowfall had hit!

It took me two hours to get home! After the drive, and the slid off cars, and watching some lady slide right into a tree, I was frazzled. I took a nap, and then I did what any Wisconsinite-transplant-Michigander would do! I went skiing!

If I can't go dirt road riding, I'll go dirt road skiing!


Blazing trails in my backyard!


Off I go!

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