Monday, September 24, 2018

Big Dog - Cane Corso

The Big Guys
My son asked if I could look after his dog, a Cane Corso, while he was on vacation. He said he knew it was a lot to ask but he was in a bind. I was glad to do it though I was a bit worried that the dog might not mind me. I was also worried that he might drag me down the front steps. He weighs over 130 pounds. I could certainly hold him on his leash, having a few pounds on him, but navigating the front steps could be a disaster. He was a great dog and obediently agreed to everything. (I wish my own dogs would mind as well!) And, as if he knew I had trouble with the stairs, Big Dog patiently waited for me on each step. (I call him Big Dog, but that is not his name).

He is such a good dog! He has an awareness that no dog I have ever known possessed. I told my son that the dog must surely be an old soul, a buddha.

On the second night, the big dog was very depressed, realizing his human was not coming back right away. I suppose to a dog it might seem as if their human is gone forever. They have no way to be assured a situation is temporary.

I enjoyed that big goof ball so much! He carefully agreed to everything at first but after a few days he realized he could get away with a thing or two, especially if he was acting goofy! He liked to sit with his back to me then try to look at me by lifting his head up and back. I guess simply turning his head was too mundane!

I had two big kennels in the house so I could sleep at night - Mattie in one and Big Dog in the other. After a couple of nights, Big Dog was allowed to sleep beside my bed. I knew he would not chew up anything while I was sleeping... the way a certain female German Shepherd would do! The last night he felt comfortable enough to buck the rules entirely. He carefully threaded his big, 130 pound bulk between the sofa and the small table loaded with all the paints and brushes including a big cup of dirty water, to sleep on the couch. Since he was so careful to not disturb anything on that table, amazingly, I did not say anything. After all, he was a guest - a very beloved guest - a beloved, well behaved guest.

My son has done an excellent job socializing and teaching his dog manners. When my son came home and Big Dog realized who was coming up the steps, he excitedly jumped against the glass in the front door! I was horrified he was going to break the glass and cut himself to ribbons so I shouted for the dog to get down - the only time the entire week I raised my voice to him. My son did not like that I yelled at his dog - duly noted in case of future grandchildren. (As if I would EVER shout at my grandchildren!)

I missed the big goof ball for a few days after he had gone back to the city. He also missed me and the farm and his two dog buddies. My son said he moped around for a couple of days after they were home. When I next visited them, the big dog almost knocked me down in his enthusiasm to see me again. We are buds now, too.

After he realized Ian wasn't coming back for him immediately. He rested his big head on the chair and stared at me, the saddest sad sack in the world!

He had his own bed in the middle of the living room so he could chill while I was painting.  He fell asleep watching tv upside down and chewing on a dog toy.  My own dogs do not have it this good!

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

My Daughter is Iron Woman!

My daughter's account of her long-distance bicycling adventures, in her own words - published on Facebook, 2018 

Coulee Challenge 1200K - August 2018

“90% of Life is Showing Up”

It’s hard to find the “theme” of this 755 mile bike ride from Apple Valley, Minnesota through the North Western sections of Wisconsin in 88 hours. So much content, such beautiful landscapes, and amazing people. So, I’ll begin at the beginning and end, at the end perhaps the golden nuggets will appear.
Disclaimer: What I’m about to write is not to brag or boast by any means, but hopefully to inspire. I may one day not be able to bike or ride, but for the here and now I’ve been blessed to be of sound mind, body, and spirit and Cycling has become such a wonderful gift in my life in the here and now, that I like to share it with you. When my insides don’t’ always feel so great or my heart is broken, I’ve been given the gift to be able to ride my bike and for that I’m eternally grateful, and met such wonderful, amazing, and beautiful human beings that enjoy the simplicity of riding a bicycle under the sun and the moon too.
Before we get on the Coulee Route, I must share how I came into Randonneuring in the first place to then arrive at this juncture in the Coulee’s Minnesota.
Background: I decided to ride through the Florida Keys alone, last year. But, before I set sail alone a series of events happened: the stars aligned, a handful of people were met, to include two Randonneurs from Florida (Jackie Shellow and Rudy) in which a 3,000 mile round-trip (via car), and 5 of us road 400k through the Florida Keys and a Baby Randonneur was born.
Dec 30, 2017: 200k from Florida City to Florida Keys.
Jan 1, 2018: 200k from Florida Keys to Florida City.
Feb 3, 2018: 300k Austin, Texas Brevet
Mar 17, 2018: 200k Springfield, Missouri
Apr 14, 2018: 300k Pomona Lake (only 130 miles completed) due to rain, sleet, snow, & wind.
Apr 28, 2018: 200k Leawood, Kansas Perm
May 5, 2018: 400k Grain Valley, Missouri Brevet
May 19, 2018: 600k Grain Valley, Missouri to Paris Brevet
May 26, 2018: 200k St. Joe Crank
May 31, 2018: 1000k Nebraska Sandhills (only 473 miles due to Achilles and tremendous wind)
Jul 7, 2018: 200k Princeton Roundabout
Aug 13, 2018: 1200k Coulee Challenge Grand Brevet
It was not my intention initially to complete the whole SR Series in one year, but one thing sort of led to the next ride. As for the month of May…well, I thought if I can do a 400k, why not try a 600k, and then the 1000 and then the Big Kahuna, 1200k! Encouragement has come from various seasoned and experienced Rando’s along the way. One of which was Michael Turek in Florida, Wayne Dunlap in Texas, and our very own Rodney Geisert, David Mathews, and Gary DelNero in Missouri. Because of a few words they’ve said, I’ve pushed myself to the next rung.
I’ve also been inspired by some amazing cyclists, one of which is Superman, although he likes to keep himself anonymous, Spencer Klaassen and Joe Edwards. To be able to ride alongside these Big Rando Dude’s, an honor for sure. Wow. (Of which I’d like to tell each of their stories, they’ve been on one epic adventure after another over the years, and often times together.)
Through all of the Big Rides, my thoughts have been, “keep up, keep up….and for God’s sakes, keep on their wheel and then I just might make it.” Through all of these rides, I’ve learned how to navigate by reading a Cue Sheet and the use of a GPS system. This has been super empowering.
Nutrition has continuously evolved and changed over time and I imagine will continue to improve. For the Coulee’s I packed Hammer Ultra Fuel in baggies, drank one water bottle full per hour (give or take), it’s never exact for me, but I try to stay on target. Hammer electrolyte pills, I took 2 per hour (or so), plus one water bottle of water every 1.5 hours or so, sometimes more, sometimes less. Hammer Gue Gel (with Caffeine I saved for the late night riding, which is always the most challenging for me, when I tend to bonk or have tough time staying awake. This really helps).
In addition to these supplements what’s been of utmost importance, second only to hydration is FOOD, REAL FOOD! Although I’ve been Vegetarian and Pescatarian over the years, on ultra-distance bike rides, I eat whatever it takes to get the job done. Whatever I’m hungry for, I eat and eat often. I’ve learned if I can stay fed and watered, I’m golden on long rides. At Control’s, usually a Kwick Shop or Casey’s, the food can look pretty bad, but there are some nice options like an Apple, Lunch Meat, and a half a cup of Coke or an egg salad, crackers and a Sweet Tea or Grapes and Slim Jim and Cheese. Just little combo’s of proteins and carbs. These items have sustained me to the next control.
Bike Fit has helped immensely to avoid injury. I had an Achilles tendon flare up on the 1,000k in which I made worse by a piss-poor wrap job and adjusting my own cleats while on route! Big no-go. I really tweaked myself. Thus after a DNF on Day two, I was determined to get those dialed in. Going to a Bike-Fit-Person who you trust and have good experience with is ideal. And I’ve found my Golden Bike-Fit-Guy. Thus before the 1200k I had him look at me and bike on trainer one last time. We made one tiny adjustment, raising the saddle 1/8th of inch and marking the old and new seat position with a Sharpie. This paid off, zero knee and/or Achilles trouble. (Well, there were normal aches and pains of endurance cycling, but no injury). Also, flat-pedaling when conscious and aware to avoid injury helped.
Physical Therapy: I did have 6-weeks of PT after the 1,000k to ensure my Achilles healed properly and faster and I believe I DID recover faster working with the PT by stretching and one deep needling treatment. I also wore compression socks before and during the 1200k. Next big ride I may consider wearing the compression socks to bed too (but would need a clean pair) don’t want to be the stinky girl on the route.
Mind Set: It is scary to be staring down the barrel of a 1200k bike-ride at 33,000 ft of climb. The old tapes of “can I do this” are there. This is a valid question. And my honest answer at the start was, “I don’t know but let’s see if I can.” 90% of life is showing up, the rest will come. And here is the Golden Nugget.
That is precisely what I’ve done on each and every big ride, showed up. I’ve not allowed my own or others’ fears hold me back. Yes, I’ve been nervous and afraid, but I’ve shown up anyway. These rides I’ve had to dig deep and of the two that I DNF’d on, I didn’t dig quit deep enough, which bothered me a lot. Thus, I’ve been driven to go back and try again until I’ve gotten it right. Which is what we’re doing here in Earth School anyway right? Showing up and trying our best and when we fail, we learn lessons, it hurts a lot, and then we’ve really learned something of value, then thankfully, we get to try it again and this time, hopefully with success. Which has been my experience, thus far.
Mental and Emotional: Staying positive on these long rides is essential. There are many highs but some occasional lows and when I’m there, I tend to keep quiet. There is no one coddling one another on these Rando events, so if feeling blue, it’s a time of reflection for me and creating an inner fortitude to get through to the next control and as Aaron Russell in Texas said, “get fixed up.” Boy was he right! It’s important to keep yourself “fixed up” with food, mental or emotional wellness. Not an easy balance always, especially if in physical pain. Like I was on this 1200k.
Physical Discomfort: Saddle Soars for two days were the most formable for me during this ride. Although I used Butt Butter, it wasn’t enough. Along the route I picked up and used Bag Balm and Vagisil that helped save the day. It didn’t completely heal the troubled areas on route but it did relive some pain and suffering. Any tiny bit of relief was welcomed, less pain is always better than more pain.
This Mammoth Ride is a challenge to write about and to find that inner voice that was there all along the route. Hope that voice has not gone dormant, thus this ride report is more technical and physical. There was much on the inside though, as there always is for all of us I’m sure.
Day One 236.3 Miles: Apple Valley to Black River Falls One hour of sleep
Day Two 180.2 Miles: Black River Falls to Reedsburg One hour of sleep
Day Three 197 Miles: Reedsburg to Winona One point Five hours of sleep
Day Four 141.8 Miles: Winona to Apple Valley Slept good in hotel after this ride!
Lessons Learned: Bring Ear Plugs! This will help with sleeping. Get a back bag so not have to wear string bag and carry all “extras’ on my back”. Get a plastic rain jacket that balls up nice and tiny to keep onboard, just in case it rains.
There is more to unpack with this ride. But, I think the inner lessons were mine to keep and to not share at this time.
In the meantime. Thanks for reading and your support. What a great adventure this has been thus far. More to come readers. Until the next Big Deal, just keep Showing Up! Its 90% of life, right?! Tschuss! ☺

Sunday, September 2, 2018

You and Your Mama

I ran across an internet video of a talking head passing judgment on fat people. I know it is hard to believe that anyone would take to social media to make fun of fat people, but yes, it certainly happens. Being fat and being old are the last two hold outs for socially acceptable buffoonery and bullying. I said "socially acceptable" - not that those two states of being are the only thing that people are targeted with shaming and criticism and intolerance. Basically, everyone is the butt of someone's joke these days.

I could only think of one thing to say to the arrogant, uneducated videographer: "Fuck you. And probably your mama, too." People are so damned ignorant that they believe obesity is as simple as eating too much, or eating the wrong thing. If you are fat, it is believed to absolutely be your fault which therefore makes you fair game for the collective shaming, jokes, and all manner of other insulting behavior.

Of course, every fat person feels as if becoming fat was in his or her control but actual scientific studies show that science honestly does not understand all the causes of obesity. It certainly does not know how to help people without also subjecting them to risky, incredibly unnatural surgical methods or dangerous medications that often ultimately cause heart failure. Of course a person bears some responsibility, but if losing weight and keeping it off was easy, there would not be a fat man, woman or child on this planet. - never, ever in the history of human beings. No one WANTS to be fat - except sumo wrestlers.

I was not fat when I was young. My metabolism was normal. Even after the birth of my first child I was able to lose weight relatively easily. But sometime in my later twenties, something changed. The genes I inherited from my maternal grandmother kicked in, and what I was used to normally eating suddenly went straight to excess pounds. I have tried a dozen fad diets, exercise regimens, diet supplements and support groups. I am able to maintain whatever regimen until I have lost around thirty pounds. For whatever reason, I begin to falter at that point and soon I am back in my normal routine. The weight comes back plus some, and after 40 years of this, here I am - the object of fat shaming and jokes from a particularly ignorant asshole on the internet sharing his pseudo-expertise. If I knew where he lived I would egg his house every week for as long as I could get away with it. Then I would pay someone to egg his house.

Of course, fat people (plus immigrants and poor people in general) have been blamed for the skyrocketing cost of health care. Fat people have been villainized as the lazy, irresponsible lard asses causing everyone to pay more for health care. What about fat people who are healthy otherwise? Perfectly healthy? I have arthritis in my knees - which is not caused by being fat. Arthritis is exacerbated by being overweight but does not cause it. I know perfectly healthy-looking people who are diabetic, have heart problems, high blood pressure and all manner of other ill health. I am not diabetic, do not have high blood pressure, and though there is some weakness in my heart, it is not heart disease. I also know "normal" people who have never been overweight who need their hips, knees or shoulders replaced. But, go right ahead and blame the overweight folks. We have broad shoulders. We can take it.

I have spent too many years being ashamed and feeling as if I should have been able to avoid being fat. After all, I am not a stupid person. I am not a genius but I am also not a Forest Gump. I know all the currently accepted reasons and failings for why I am fat. I was looking through old photos one day and found a picture of my grandmother and all her sisters. And yes indeed, there in black and white was the proof of my genetic inheritance. These were women who never even had the opportunity to eat fast foods, not until very late in their lives. If they wanted food, they had to either grow it or raise it, preserve it, or buy ingredients from the store. Then they had to laboriously combine these whole food ingredients into consumable food, which took a LOT of time and effort and burned a lot of calories. Hard to overeat in those conditions yet, there they were, all of my female kin, overweight, some more than others, but certainly fat.

Of course I wish I was slender! No one wants to be fat! No one appreciates the judgmental looks if you happen to use an electric cart in the grocery store. "Why are you even in here buying food?" If my grocery cart was full of sugar, potato chips, slabs of bacon and cases of soft drinks, then you have my permission to glare at me. Otherwise, you know what you can do... and probably your mama, too.