My weekend things!

Weekend. It’s a lovely word, isn’t it? I know I talk about the weather a lot, and I know that can be a boring topic, but why stop now? It’s been kind of a dreary start to spring. Occasionally the sun and warm air cooperated, but mostly it’s been chilly(ish) and gray and damp. So, when the weather turned last week and gave us a full week of sun and warmth, you’d think we’d all won the lottery. Friday afternoon goodbyes at work went like this:

Coworker: Enjoy the beautiful weather this weekend!

Me: No, YOU enjoy this beautiful weather this weekend!

Coworker: I will!

Me: I will, too! My husband says we’ve earned this good weather! We deserve it!

Coworker: Well, he’s right!

Me: I agree!

[As I type this, I can hear the sound of neighbors embarking on yard work projects and the sounds of the lawn mowers and weed eaters are music to my ears.]

Yesterday, Josh and I biked all the world over and every now and then I’d get the sweet whiff of a flower or a lilac, which are blooming like crazy right now. It’s such a beautiful time of year. I went on a bike ride Friday, too, and on this ride I confirmed that Spring 2.0 has arrived. This is a revelation that came to me as I saw that there are green leaves atop all the trees now and wildflowers are starting to pop up all over the place. So, if this is Spring 2.0, you might be wondering what comes prior to it? Well, it’s like this (brace yourself…here comes even MORE talk of weather):

Sunday, March 20, 2016 was the first official day of spring. Really, though, this is just a date on the calendar to mark an astronomical event: the vernal equinox. This occurs when the sun is shining directly on the equator. The vernal equinox marks the day when both day and night are roughly equal. It is when the northern hemisphere (where we are!) begins pointing toward the sun, thus opening the door to longer days and, eventually, warmer weather. In Michigan this means nothing, though. At the onset of spring, we still have months to go before we can hear the first whispers of spring. (This was not the case in NC where I previously lived. There, I’d find crocuses blooming in February and daffodils in early March.) So, basically, the first phase of spring, I realized as I biked along the River Trail on Friday, is also the last burst of Winter. Or, you could also look at it as Old Man Winter’s Last Laugh. The first phase of spring is marked by cold, damp, an occasional burst of snow, and an occasional peek of sun and warmth. Spring 2.0 begins when there are more trees budding with flowers and with green leaves decorating their limbs than bare trees. When you begin to see the wildflowers and get random mouthfuls of bugs on your bike rides, that’s when you know you can begin to rest easy. The chirping birds are here to stay. You can take the flannel sheets off your bed and ignore your sock drawer for the next several months. Spring 2.0 is also characterized by friendly neighbors and passersby you encounter on your walks and bike rides. People will smile at you and greet you. It’s the most wonderful time of the year.

So all that is to say that yesterday Josh and I spent hours on our bikes to usher in Spring 2.0, and also to have a belated anniversary celebration. On our bikes we: got coffee, went through Scott Woods leading up to Hawk Island Park, found a new-to-us pathway that showed us Lansing sites we’d never encountered before, biked to REO Town and got bbq for the first time at Saddleback BBQ, went to Old Town and up to Turner Dodge House, then finished out the day with about 9 more miles out to Clinton County and back.

Exhausting? Oh, yes. But so, so fun. We ended the day with a few friends at the house and a homemade tofu curry…and ice cream for dessert.

 

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My weekend things!

moments on a bike

Favorites:

  1. The first time I biked to work. I didn’t have a bike, so I borrowed my husband’s. I biked up what I perceived to be a big hill, felt like a badass, and then got lost when I couldn’t find access to the River Trail.
  2. The day I found the River Trail and decided Lansing might not be so bad. It was a Saturday or Sunday in May 3 years ago. I had to work a shift at a special event for work and had a bit of time to kill. Josh was…somewhere (refereeing soccer maybe?). I hopped on his bike and putzed around, sticking to the sidewalks and slowly, slowly venturing further. I don’t quite remember how I found the River Trail; I just remember arriving there and soaking up the sun of what felt like the first sunny day since the previous early fall. Lansing, I decided, was an okay place to live.
  3. Anytime I bike through the woods approaching Hawk Island.
  4. Anytime I see animals like deer, raccoon, rabbits, or unusual birds.
  5. Biking with my husband.
  6. Biking up north, along M-22 on our mini bike tour last September. I mean…that  weekend was pretty much perfect.
  7. Making it to the top of a hill.
  8. Biking down hills.
  9. The first time I biked 20 miles.
  10. The first time I biked 30 miles.
  11. That one time I biked 40 miles (and almost barfed).
  12. Biking around Mackinac Island on a tandem bike with Josh.
  13. Listening to good music (Van Morrison), a good podcast (2 Dope Queens), or a great book (Yes, Please by Amy Poehler) while biking.

Least Favorites:

  1. Bonking on any long ride. It’s super hard to recover from a bonk.
  2. Sometimes I assume hopping on a bike will improve my mood if I’m feeling angry, frustrated, or sad. Usually this is the case, but sometimes it is not. Those rides are hard and feel like a chore.
  3. The time I was harassed while biking in a bike lane by some joker in a van that was practically held together with duct tape.
  4. That time I biked 40 miles (and almost barfed).
  5. Biking on my light-as-a-feather road bike on a windy day. When the wind picks up and pushes you to the left or right, it’s truly frightening.
  6. I love the River Trail and the access it provides to folks on bikes, runners, walkers, dog walkers, roller bladers, and skate boarders. I am filled with rage; however, when any of the above exercise poor etiquette when it comes to sharing this path. Stay on your side! Be aware! Share the trail!
  7. Biking somewhere…and then having to deal with torrential rain when it’s time to bike home.
  8. We biked up lots of hills while on our mini bike tour, but there was one hill, in particular, that almost killed me dead. This hill just would not end. A person going on a casual walk could have probably passed me as they walked up that hill. I hated that hill.
  9. Potholes. Sweet holy mother. Nothing makes me grumpier on a ride than potholes that cause me to swerve on a road that is already lacking a bike lane. Practically as bad: potholes that have been “filled.” Those really stink, too.
  10. Biking anywhere that is not bike friendly or lacking in bike infrastructure. Biking on busy streets or in areas you only feel “safe” on a sidewalk is never fun and always stressful.

The End.

moments on a bike

My Beef with Gilmore Girls

This is not a post about books or bikes. It is just something I need to get off my chest.

First, let me state that Gilmore Girls (GG) is one of my favorite shows. I watched it in high school and college and Rory and I were the “same age”…so suffice it to say I felt connected to the show and considered (…and still consider) myself to be an unofficial citizen of the fictional Stars Hollow, CT. I collected all of the seasons of GG years before they showed up on Netflix, and now that they are on Netflix, I “watch” the show over and over. Basically, GG is the soundtrack to my life. (To be clear, I don’t literally watch the show constantly, but I will have it on as I clean, read, putz around the house, etc. It keeps me company.)

There. Now that that’s out of the way, I can dig into what’s really on my mind. I feel that after repeated viewings and of this show, I have earned the right to weigh in on (pun intended) the treatment of food in this series. Yes, yes I know that there have been many other  articles that focus on this. However, most articles focus on the following:

  1. Ways to have a Gilmore Girls themed party (with recipes)
  2. How REFRESHING it is that a show let women characters enjoy and embrace junk food
  3. That there is NO WAY women, or people in general, could eat this way in real life and remain thin/healthy

My gripe with food is a little different. What I’d like to discuss are all the FAKE BITES OF FOOD that happen at various snack and meal times throughout the duration of the show. Not all characters are guilty of this, but Rory was THE WORST. Just the worst. Rory orders a hamburger. The hamburger is delivered. Rory takes one itty bitty little bite of the burger…and then she has to leave and go be studious somewhere or go pretend to like Dean. She just took the worst fake bites of food ever. I was never convinced she enjoyed any of the food.

Take, for instance, the episode I had on earlier today (season 3, episode 4). Here are 2 instances of perfectly good food going to waste:

  1. Rory pours a giant bowl of Rice Krispies to “share” with her mom for breakfast. Lorelai then adds in a bunch of mini marshmallows. And, to Lorelai’s credit, she actually munches on a mini marshmallow she pulled out from the bag like a normal human being would. Then, they sit down for breakfast, Rory takes ONE minuscule bite of the cereal and then abandons her cereal to go shower and get ready. WHO DOES THAT?
  2. In this same episode, Lane runs into Luke’s Diner, where Lorelai and Rory are getting ready to eat their hamburgers. Lane takes Rory’s burger and takes a classic fake bite. The camera even managed to get a clear shot of the “aftermath” of this bite. And do you know what she actually got a bite of? THE BUN. That’s right. Lane stole Rory’s burger so she could eat a bite of the dang bread.

This kind of thing happens all. the. time throughout this show. Little baby bites of food. The very tiny corner of a candy bar. A pretend giant bite of a sandwich that literally doesn’t alter the shape of the sandwich.

Are we, as viewers, supposed to pretend that these allegedly food loving ladies are anything other than dieting, food-fearing actors afraid of gaining weight in an industry that praises them for being skinny?

And, here’s the thing that bugs me: If these actors never go within a mile of  Twizzlers and Pop Tarts in real life, that’s fiiiiiiine. But they should, at the very least, act as though they are enjoying the food they’re trying to convince the viewers they love.

End rant.

(I said this wasn’t going to be about books, but I’ll end on a bookish note. I checked out a book I somehow never managed to read as a kid a few of my coworkers were gushing about last week: Julie of the Wolves. Wowwy wow wow. It was such a good book. I’m a sucker for books about people adapting, learning, and working with the natural world and this book contained bucket loads of that. While the subject matter was less than uplifting (death, rape, effects of industrialized world on indigenous people, etc.), I was so rooting for Miyax to find her way.)

My Beef with Gilmore Girls

Moving right along

And then it was May! Things are full, busy, and good. May in Michigan is lovely. The month typically starts off in this weird limbo land of spring/not spring, full of weeks of sunny warm days and chilly dreary days, but ends triumphantly with green leaves on trees and flowers blooming a-plenty. The end of the month will also bring my first trip to Sleeping Bear Dunes, a true Michigan traveling must. Josh and I will spend Memorial Day weekend camping and hiking. I can’t wait.

April saw a visit from my folks early in the month, as Josh traveled to two conferences back-to-back. After they left, Michigan was graced with the most gorgeous sunny warm weekend. Josh was still traveling, but I knew I needed to spend as much of my time outdoors to soak it all in. Thus, my first solo biking/camping trip was born. Drunk on sunshine and possibility, I packed up the car with our small tent, basic camping gear, and bike and headed west to Holland State Park. It was…amazing. Granted, camping with Josh is more fun, but it was incredibly empowering to go camping by myself and to bike as much as I did. By the end of the weekend, I’d biked close to 50 miles. I chased the sunset on my bike and watched it set as I gazed out over Lake Michigan. I biked from Holland to Saugatuck, drank delicious iced coffee, visited a few stores, and then biked back to Holland to refuel with a burger and beer. A purely magical weekend in Pure Michigan.

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Car is loaded and I’m ready to ride!
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Gorgeous Lake Michigan sunset.
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Good morning! Slept in a tent by myself…with a hammer next to me to ward of “intruders.”

I also, just the last week, was able to make a quick trip to Milwaukee, WI to meet up with my very best friend from college. She was in town for a conference, so I got to meet up with her, explore a new city, and even managed to set a meeting with the head of Donor Relations at Discovery World Science & Technology Center. It was so fun! Milwaukee is a very laid back city — I was often surprised at how empty downtown seemed, which typically means a city doesn’t have much to offer. I didn’t find that to be the case, though! Milwaukee is right on Lake Michigan, boasts several amazing museums, and offers a wide variety of dining and shopping. I loved it! I also loved the opportunity to spend some quality time with my main gal-pal squeeze.

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Taking a silly pic (or 20) and dining on brats and beer at Brat House.

I’ll keep the book news of the month brief. In April I read 2 books: Jane Steele by Lindsay Faye and Shelter by Jung Yun. I enjoyed both books, for very different reasons. Jane Steele is a fun work of historical fiction, loosely based on Jane Eyre and follows Steele from her humble beginnings as an orphan to navigating the rough streets of London on her own to her attempt to make a claim on her childhood home…and making some deadly encounters along the way. Shelter wasn’t as “light” of a read. Kyung and his wife Gillian are struggling financially. As they begin to take desperate steps to climb out of their financial hole, their lives take an unexpected turn as they deal with a tragic event that happens to Kyung’s parents, whom he has always tried to keep a safe distance from. This event forces Kyung to revisit issues from his youth, face the icy relationship with his parents, and deal with issues in his marriage.

Other notable and important news of the month: Josh and I celebrated our 3 year anniversary…but he was traveling on the actual day of our anniversary. That meant we didn’t get to do any thing “special,” but Josh and I do a lot to celebrate our relationship. Our anniversary marks a truly happy and wonderful day in our lives and we’ll continue to celebrate it moving forward! (However…the one hour massage certificate Josh gave me, and which I have scheduled for tomorrow, has me so excited. I don’t get a massage often at all, so this will be such a treat!)

Onward into May and spring and other lovely things!

 

Moving right along

Hey! A post about books.

READING. Remember that? I do. I’m still doing it. I’m not sure what book I last posted about… so I’ll just dive into the present:

Josh and I spent a long weekend in Florida visiting his folks. I flew Spirit, because I’m the kind of girl that loves an adventure, and packed one little TEENY TINY duffel bag in order to comply with their one small tote for free policy. No room for books. Thankfully, and luckily, I was able to raid my mother-in-law’s bookshelves. She had some good ones! In between napping and eating and sunning and swimming, I read a sweet and funny collection of essays by Nora Ephron called I Remember Nothing. I knew Ephron had written books, and I’d always been kind of interested in reading at least one of them. It was the perfect book to read while on a mini-vacation. The book is filled with personal anecdotes, stories, and her musings on life. She entered journalism in a time when it was still very much a “man’s world,” so it was super interesting reading what that environment and culture was like. I also got a GOOD chuckle at her essay called My Aruba. She had an ornery, cowlick-y spot of hair she dubbed her own personal Aruba, as it reminds her of the trees that have been blow sideways from the strong winds on the island of Aruba. I don’t personally have an Aruba of my own, but my mom does, and she refers to it as “her beach hair” and her “dippity do.” I’m laughing even just thinking about it. Ephron notes that no matter how many times she fixes her Aruba… it always comes back. In conclusion, this was not a profound collection of stories and essays, but it was an interesting, fun, sweet read.

And now, let me move on and talk about my library book problem. I put so many books on hold that sometimes a whole bunch become available at once. Does this ever happen to you? First I’m excited. A bouquet of books! Then I’m overwhelmed by my choices. Then I procrastinate. Then I only manage to get through one of them…maybe two. It’s a problem I’m working on. Anyway, right now I have about 5 or 6 books checked out and the one that “stuck” is Pat Conroy’s The Prince of Tides. How have I never read any of this classic southern writer’s books? I may not be from South Carolina, but I’ve spent plenty of time there, since I grew up in North Carolina… and the marshy, swampy, beachy land where his stories take place feel like home to me. I can even smell the wetlands as I read about them. (Isn’t that a wonderful thing about books? You can open them and feel at home.) Now, I’m finding some of his language to be a bit…flowery. But I give him a pass because the guy is southern! Flowery descriptive writing just feels right in this book. I’m only a little over 100 pages into it, but I’m already loving that this book is giving me southern grit lit feels. It’s dramatic. It’s over the top. It’s based on his own life growing up. Love it.

So that’s where I am in Book Land these days. I’ll be honest, I do wish I’d read a few more books thus far into the year. I think Ephron’s book was my 9th. Honest moment: I follow a handful of book bloggers and really enjoy reading their musings on books. I get so many good recommendations from them! But, often, at the end of the month they’ll recap how many books they read and give a brief over view of their reads. Where I read anywhere from 2-4 books in a month (4 is a REALLY good month), they’ll read 6 or 7…and then say it was a light reading month for them because they were stressed or had a lot going on. I tend to rush through those posts because they leave me feeling like this:

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BUT! I try to just brush it off. I love reading. I love spending the time reading the books I’m able to read. That’s all that matters.

I’ll report back…hopefully sooner rather than later on the rest of my Conroy book and bike rides (which are going great, by the way!).

Hey! A post about books.

How to handles the jerks

I was going to title this post something a bit less hyperbolic. In the end, though, I had a run in with a Jerk, and I calls it likes I sees it.

Today, as I biked in a bike lane on a fairly busy street, I encountered a Jerk. At a stoplight, an old beat up van pulled up alongside me. Immediately upon stopping the passenger in the van rolled the window down and began harassing me. Thankfully, I couldn’t make out what he was saying to me, as I didn’t bother to look over at him and I was listening to music. I’ve never been so thankful for earbuds. He also laughed at me and made weird, howling type of noises. I was very grateful when the light turned green and they sped off ahead of me.

How I felt during this strange 10-15 seconds of my life:

  1. Humiliated. I may not have heard his exact words, but I didn’t have to. I knew the point was to make me feel self-conscious and powerless. It worked for a nano second.
  2. Angry. Understandable.
  3. SERIOUSLY angry. Like, blood-boiling angry.
  4. Vengeful. I came very close to wishing I could have a Towanda type of moment:48a7b6ce55c546dedd3c3edd2772ab6b

I wondered if I should just turn around and go back home. Was this Jerk a bad omen for the rest of my ride? Ultimately, I decided I wanted to bike. So I should. Why should I let some stranger, who we have established is a Jerk, call the shots with what I do with my free time? So on I biked and, gradually, my intense anger and rage dissipated. The sun shone, the wind blew, and I saw so many deer, geese, ducks, and other wildlife. I listened to good tunes. I waved hello and exchanged smiles with quite a few other cyclists. It ended up being a really nice ride.

In conclusion: I won. The Jerk, who thought he’d ruffle my feathers or get in my head didn’t. And… I’ll be back on my bike tomorrow, too.

How to handles the jerks

The week: previous and upcoming

It’s been one week(ish) since I fell back in love with the idea of biking to all the places. Of the four workdays I worked in the office, I did bike two of them. One day I had a conference to go to that started at 8 a.m. and after looking at the bike routes to the conference location(and the 60 mph winds that were anticipated), I knew biking wouldn’t be the best idea. I also didn’t bike on Friday because I knew I needed to leave work early to attend a previously scheduled appointment. All in all, I’m happy with the two days I was able to bike to work. I rode my Bianchi Torino Dama both days, which I’ve decided is the bike I like commuting to work on the most. My road bike, a Giant Avail, is the best bike for longer adventures as it’s more efficient. On my two mile ride to work, my Bianchi, with its upright geometry, make for a more comfortable ride in to work for the day. (Speaking of my road bike, I’ve finally come around to the idea of selling it and investing in my for-eva-eva bike…once I figure out what that is. I love my road bike. I do! But I’m not a racer and I’m not interested in biking to Win or Go Fast. I’m thinking an investment in a steel frame beauty is the direction I’m headed…)

Biking to work is the perfect way to center yourself before settling in for the workday. I listen to my tunes of choice and marvel at the way the sun hits the buildings downtown as I get closer to work. One day, after eating a quick lunch, I even decided to go on a quick bike jaunt to round out my midday break. Thankfully, my work is situated right on the River Trail, so it’s easy to hop on my bike for a 10 minute ride. Also, with moving the clocks forward an hour, there’s more daylight in the evening, which opens up the possibility to take a more meandering way home as time and energy permits.

This upcoming week will be fun… it starts out pretty normally, and then on Wednesday I am driving to Detroit to hop on a plane to take me to visit my in-laws in….SUNNY, WARM FLORIDA. When I think of sunshine and warm weather and wearing sandals and seeing flowers, my heart legit skips a few beats. It’s going to be such a nice getaway, and it will be so nice to spend several days with family. I won’t be going into the office tomorrow, as I work from home on Mondays, but I should be able to bike in on Tuesday. Wednesday I’ll be heading to the airport straight from work, so I’ll be driving the ol’ car.

In conclusion, I heart bike. I heart spring (HAPPY SPRING!). I heart sunshine. I heart biking in the spring sunshine.

The week: previous and upcoming