Chonky Caterpillars

Monday, July 6, 2020 0 No tags Permalink

The monarch beds are doing well, and these chonky caterpillars are eating the milkweed leaves like crazy. Soon they will be off to begin their metamorphosis.

It’s been crazy hot and we haven’t had rain in well over a week I think. But it’s a lovely Michigan summer just the same. You have to get in your activity in the morning before it gets too hot, and then stay in the air conditioning during the rest of the day. I don’t mind it at all. Much better than the cold.

Fat, Pretentious Bicyclist

Thursday, June 25, 2020 0 No tags Permalink

How I became a fat, pretentious cyclist…and why you shouldn’t hate me.

I know you hate me. You yell things out your window at me. You wait until you get up right behind me and lay on your horn. Thankfully, so far, I have yet to have anything thrown at me but I know the more miles I put on, the more likely I’ll be hit with a projectile. Probably you are mumbling to yourself about how my padded bike shorts make my legs look like sausages in casings. To you, I’m just another fat, pretentious bike f*ck. But let me tell you how I came to be this way.

I got my Trek Navigator 300 bike sometime between 2001 and 2003. I’m sure I have the paperwork somewhere. It was around $400. And with that, I got a helmet because safety is important and I don’t want a closed-head injury. That’s all I had. I didn’t ride very often at all. I didn’t especially even like to ride. I wore shorts and a t-shirt.

Time marches on. I aged, like one does. I had a tragic skateboarding injury. That led to pursuing other kinds of exercise. I have a Y membership and swim. I occasionally stand up paddleboard. And last summer, I dragged out the old bike. To my surprise, I liked biking better this time around. I’m biking in the neighborhoods of my childhood. It’s generally peaceful and relaxing. And as I am on a diet and trying again to lose weight, it should theoretically be helping that. But as I’ve put on the miles, I’ve had to add some things to my bike. Believe me, I don’t like adding all of the accoutrements as every bit takes more time and makes the activity less of a childhood pick-up-and-go free feeling. The more hassle, the less I want to do the activity. That’s why I don’t paddleboard as much as I’d like.

The first addition was SPF rated shirts. I don’t want to prematurely age. To that I added gloves to keep the sun off my hands, and a neck gaiter, because I don’t want a wrinkly neck. Simple changes.

Then I added a rear-view mirror for my handlebar. As I am riding local roads, I want to know what’s coming up behind me. I also started using hand signals – even though I almost NEVER see motor vehicles using them during my travels. I want people in cars to know my plans. I also added a bike bell (cute and kitty-themed), mostly for when I’m on linear park as I don’t want to come up on a blind curve and be hit or hit someone.

Now, although I am putting in some good miles, I am fat and on a low-carb, low-calorie diet so I don’t have a lot of extra ooomph to make me go fast. I am a slow rider. I am also rather uncoordinated. For those of you on a low-carb diet, you’ll know that one needs to drink a lot of water. I could get my little water bottle OUT of the cage while riding, but do not have the coordination to put it BACK. And when I would try, I’d drop it in the road and have to circle back around, get off my bike, put it in the cage, get back on and start up again. So this year, I bought an Osprey hydration pack, one of the little backpacks with a water bladder that you wear and drink through a tube. And you know what? If I keep hydrated on my ride, I don’t wind up with a blinding headache all afternoon. But this addition I fear has pushed me from looking like a fat middle aged woman on a bike to a fat pretentious cyclist.

The final step in the process happened last Monday. It was hot. In fact, the last week of rides were all rather hot. And you know what happens when you put on so many miles and it’s extra hot? You are required to take a few days off biking, avoid sitting, and start looking for padded bike shorts. This itself is a challenge. Bike shorts are not made for fat people. And if you get a size that actually you can wear, it’s not pretty. I warn others to avert their eyes lest they turn to stone.

I believe my final step will be getting a flashing head and tail light. When I see other bikers with them, you can really see them coming and it might make it just a little easier to be seen. And with that, my transformation will be complete. Born out of both the need for safety – especially with people in large vehicles who hate me for simply biking – and for my own comfort.

I did not add these items to belong to some elitist club of bikeholes. I’m just trying to get a little exercise on my lunch hour. I try to represent the bicycling world in a positive way. If the sidewalks are clear of pedestrians, I hop on there because I don’t want to be in your way either. If there are people on the sidewalk, I ride in the bike lane or on the extreme side of the road. I use my hand signals. I probably see you before you even notice me. I double and triple check for traffic before I enter intersections and while I am going through. So far this summer (since the end of May), I’ve put on 265 miles. Last year I hit just over 600 May – October. I average 12 mph and normally ride an average of 15.5 miles, all on my lunch hour. I’m not worthy of your hate.

Painting Update

Tuesday, March 3, 2020 0 No tags Permalink

I am continuing along with my painting, and really enjoying it. Above is a piece I repainted over like three times. Still only happy with some of it; the boats, reflections in the water and pier poles turned out as I had hoped. The buildings, not so much. It is another opportunity to determine what I enjoy painting and what I probably won’t do again (buildings).

I follow a lot of artists on social media, and became interested in gouache. I decided to try a few little fast pieces with gouache. Here is the first.

It is really different to work with than acrylic, but I enjoyed the process and think I may do a gouache in between each acrylic study.

Here is my last work, a still life.

Making some kind of progress, I guess. Again, I really enjoy painting and probably so far prefer acrylic. I think I will do another gouache next, but with a very busy week in store I’m not sure when I will have time. Soon, I hope. I find I am having to train myself to really look at things, especially shadows. If I do what I normally do and just get a quick look and move on, I miss all kinds of subtlety just by thinking I know it already. That’s a good metaphor for all of life’s interactions, I think.

In weather news, the past few days have been a bit warmer and we’ve had some snow melt. Mom has seen robins, but I haven’t yet. My Christmas cactus is blooming for the second time in just a few months. We’ve done some projects at Mom’s house, including painting the bathroom in preparation for new tile and replacing the light in the eating area. Today is Maxy’s 17th birthday.

Misc. Updates

In 2020, I decided that I would take up painting with acrylics. Thought it could work a different part of my brain. I have started my first painting, which is based on a photograph I took of a sunrise at the shelter. It’s not quite done yet, but it is coming closer.

If you know you will be sending international mail over the next year (say, you write holiday greeting cards on behalf of the homeless cats in the Humane Society shelter, and those cats have an international following), you’ll want to note that some postal rates including international stamps go up in price on January 26. First class forever stamps are unaffected. It’s only 5 cents a stamp, and I’m happy to support USPS. February is International Correspondence Writing Month – InCoWriMo. So hopefully friends and family will receive some snail mail. I’m not committing to a letter every day, but hopefully those with whom I regularly send letters will receive one during the month.

So far, we’ve had a little bit of snow in November, December, and January but lots of more reasonable temperatures in between. I know a lot of people don’t like the freeze/thaw cycle, but I find it nice to have snow and cold and then have it all go away. I can’t personally do much to change the weather anyhow, so I might as well enjoy it when I can. I am not quite counting down the days until spring, but I am looking forward to the day the sun rises before 8:00am.

Crochet Lap Blanket Extravaganza

Monday, June 17, 2019 0 No tags Permalink

If you were to ask me what my favorite thing is to crochet, it would have to be lap blankets. I enjoy picking colors specifically for individuals. I like using a nice big hook and a HDC stitch with either a rippled or scalloped border. I make them in the evenings while I’m binge-watching something on Netflix. And so far this year, I’ve made quite a few lap blankets…working on number seven, and that doesn’t include a smaller one for a cat with cancer that I made back in January.

I started out with this blanket, made with all kinds of colors, for a special lady who crochets blankets for shelter cats:

Next up was a blanket for a friend’s mother who was having surgery:

Then a blanket for a friend’s mother who was moving into a nursing home (the orange color with the blue and green edging reminded me of a sunset over the Caribbean Ocean):

Then a sage-colored blanket for a friend who is facing a serious health issue:

Then a pink blanket for the feisty daughter of a friend who was in the hospital:

And lastly, now I am working on a blanket for a friend who is moving someplace really cold. I’m doing something a bit different with this stitch pattern:

As you can see, Maxy often helps me work on the blankets. He especially likes it when they are long enough for him to nap under while I’m working. There is something meditative about working on a lap blanket, the same repeating stitches. It’s very calming.

Rexall Drugs

Thursday, May 2, 2019 0 No tags Permalink

Through the years I continue to come back to the Rexall Drugs sign. I’ve shot it with numerous cameras during all different kinds of weather and all four seasons. This shot, around lunchtime, was before it started raining again. At least it’s a little warmer. And hey, we saw our first oriole at the feeder yesterday evening.

Too many gray days
The rain gives me a headache
There is no escape.

Rose Gold Coffee Kalamazoo

Wednesday, May 1, 2019 0 No tags Permalink

If one must attend meetings, one should reward everyone involved by selecting a coffee shop as the location of the meeting.

And if one has a meeting in Kalamazoo, Rose Gold Coffee Company downtown is especially lovely.

They make their own syrups for the lattes. The atmosphere is peaceful. It’s a really great place.

In other news, it is officially May but it still rather feels like March. And the rain in incessant.

Never-ending rain
Dampens the soul and spirit
There is no respite.

2019 Bullet Journal

Thursday, February 14, 2019 0 No tags Permalink

It’s a new year, and I just started on my third bullet journal. You can read the original post here. I really enjoy the creative process of putting the journal together, and I enjoy tracking things like the weather and the amount of sunshine we receive here in Michigan in the winter (not much). I understand my Grandpa used to keep track of the weather as well, so it must run in families or something. My monthly goal pages look just about the same as in the original post I made, as is the monthly tracking log. The weekly spreads are also pretty much the same. I have added some new overall tracking pages though, and I think doing it for so long, it looks a little cleaner.

Weekly Spread:

2019 Monthly Plans:

Sun Tracker: