Monday, February 28, 2011

141/365: A Sound That Catches My Ear

These wind chimes hang outside my back door.  The music they make takes me to a happy place.  I often take for granted their melody, but often enough, it reminds me of those I love and miss.

Poppy was my dad's dad.  He was from Southern Illinois.  He and my Maama lived there until the 1940s when the CCC work was done and Poppy needed a job.  He walked into the B&O Railroad to see what they had available.  They asked him if he could type.  He told them he had taken typing in high school.  They told him to sit down and get to work.  He responded that he hadn't brought dinner (lunch) with him.  They told him there was a diner across the street.  So Poppy worked there until the late 70s/early 80s when he retired.  After he retired, Poppy got into a lot of things.  One of the things he did was to make wind chimes.  All of his kids soon had a set.  While his chimes weren't as pretty as these, the sound of wind chimes always make me think of him. 

These chimes, in particular, hold a special place in my heart.  When my daddy died almost five years ago, my cousins bought these for me in leiu of flowers.  Their hope was that these were more permanent than flowers or a plant and that the sight and sound of them would bring me happiness.  It does. 

Sunday, February 27, 2011

140/365: A Glow

I don't like today's shot.  I was taking a shot of something that glowed.  I tried a few electronic items but the glow wasn't as visible as I would have liked.  I took this of the brick above our fireplace.  The stone to the ceiling is one of the things that attracked us to the house.  It looks beautiful at night when you're looking in the house from the yard or the porch.  Still, I don't think my shot is great.

I wish, instead, I could have taken a self portrait today as I was riding.  I glowed.  I did something today I've never done.  I rode up Hanover Road from Bluff Road.  I had a shred wish today.  I rode four hours yesterday, and I wanted to ride hills today.  I wanted my legs to ache.  Now in hindsight, I probably have ridden steeper, longer hills in Hermann or Ste. Gen, but I have never had enough confidence in my riding and climbing to take on this hill.  Don't ask me why, I can't tell you.  But today, I was mad enough, frustrated enough, that I wanted my legs to hurt as much as my heart is hurting right now . . . more on that later.  Next up is D road.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

139/365: Making a Connection

Today's assignment was to take a shot that illustrated making a connection.  I started to think about a shot of a human connection, my kids together, hands being held, or something similar.  I toyed with the idea of incorporating my wayward dogs into the shot as well.  Then I decided on this shot because, for me, it illustrates a double connection.  There is the simple idea of the fingers connecting to the keyboard.  But then there is a further meaning of using technology to connect to people. 

I've been thinking a lot about technology and the way it has shaped our interactions with others.  In many ways I am so much more connected with friends and acquaintances through Facebook, Twitter, email and blogs than I could have ever imagined.  I don't hesitate to send someone a quick text when I'm thinking about them, whereas prior to the that technology I wouldn't have been so quick to pick up the phone.  It's opened pathways I wouldn't have thought possible as recent as ten years ago. 

Technology is having an impact on the ways our kids interact and learn.  I recently read the first three chapters (sent out as a worked) of a new book, Understanding the Digital Generation.  The gist of it talks about how we need to teach kids skills for the 21st century instead of the skills we focused on during the Industrial Age until now.  I'll probably end up buying the book, hopefully electronically!, because it really peaked my interest.  I had the opportunity to hear two of the authors, Ian Jukes and Lee Crockett, speak within the last two years.  Interestingly enough, much of their collaboration for this and their previous book occurred without them ever meeting face-to-face.  That idea was my real muse of the idea of connection for this shot today.

Friday, February 25, 2011

138/365: Strong Horizontal Lines

The Daily Shoot's assignment today was strong horizontal lines.  So as I took a break from work tasks, I looked around my office for examples.  I took a few shots of the radiator, but the rust in the vents was not a pretty site.  I settled, instead, on this one.  Part of my job is to be well-read, to keep abreast on the latest research and trends in education.  As an end to that requirement, I have many professional journals in my office.  Some weeks I have time to peruse them, most of the time I stack them or file them, hoping to get to them later.  These are the latest additions that are awaiting my time.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

137/365: I Was Bored, Mom

What else would possess a six year old boy to crawl under his desk and cut his hair?  Instead of a sticker on his chart today, his teacher taped pieces of his hair.  I just shook my head.  I love this boy, but he's going to make sure I get more and more grey in my hair. 

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

136/365: Imitation is the Sincerest Form of Flattery

I've written from time to time that there are days that I struggle coming up with photos.  While I'm following the advice of taking my camera with me everywhere, there are days when I'm just not inspired, days that it's all I can do to work, take care of the kids, and train.  Creativity?  Bleh!

My friend Shelly from high school has been changing up her Facebook profile picture a lot lately.  Some of her portrait shots are very cool.  I think she may have an app on her iPhone for editing her photos and adding monochromatic color.  Whatever she's doing, I really like them.  Today's photo is an idea I borrowed from her.  She had a similar shot posted as her profile pic for a few days.  I liked it so I decided to try it.  Taking it helped me learn a little bit more about my camera, which is one of my goals in this project.  I learned how to use the timer . . . and I did it without reading the instruction manuel!

Some of my photos subjects will be changing.  I did some googling today and found a site called the Daily Shoot.  It gives a daily photo "assignment".  I'm going to try to complete their daily assignment in addition to looking for other things which resonate with me.  I'm hoping it will jump start my sometimes stalled creativity.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

135/365: USPS--Fail!

For our fifth anniversary, Klucker bought me a heart rate monitor.  Romantic, huh?  While I can tell you at that time that didn't go over as one of the top five gifts he had ever gotten me, it does now rank up there with one of the most used gifts he's ever gotten me.  Overall, I love my Polar.  It's easy to use and program, it's reliable.  My only criticism of the Polar is that it has to be sent back to an authorized Polar repair shop to have the battery changed.  I've had to do that two other times in the last six years and both times it's taken a good two weeks for my watch to come home.  Now that may not sound like a big deal to some, but when it's your only form of data for your riding and running, and you're a data-addict like me, it's a huge problem.  It's actually what pushed me over the edge to buy a Garmin for my bike two years ago. 

When I got the low battery signal on my watch about two weeks ago, the impending sense of dread came over me.  It was time to ship it to Texas and to do without data on run for two weeks.  The thought crossed my mind to just buy a Garmin Forerunner 410 and be done with Polar.  But $30 versus $450 didn't seem like a logical and economical move.  I decided to try something else. 

I follow Polar's CEO on Twitter (@ChrisPolarUSA) and so I tweeted him asking how to speed up the process.  He involved the Polar repair center in Washington state (@PolarGuy88) and the next thing I knew I had a promise Rob would put the new battery in and ship it back to me the day he received it.  I would still be without it for a few days, but it was looking much better.  I mailed the watch via USPS Priority flat rate box on February 11.  Rob sent me a message on February 14 that it was finished and he was returning it via USPS Priority.  I checked the tracking number on Tuesday and there was no update.  I checked on Wednesday and there was no update.  I check on Thursday and it was at my local post office.  I was shocked!  I would have my watch back in less than a week--Amazing.  I shouldn't have celebrated so soon.  Somehow it took my local post office (that serves a town of 9,000) until Saturday to have it delivered.  And by that time I was in Texas at base camp.  In all reality, I got the watch back sooner than I would have otherwise.  Still, it makes me wonder if FedEx should be my choice next time.

Base Camp 2011

To help boost my early season fitness, I decided to participate in a cycling base camp. The triathlon team that my coach runs, Fit2Train, organizes the camp Presidents' Day weekend annually in Fredericksburg, Texas. The camp leaves out of "the Ranch" and features three days of riding through beautiful, challenging Texas Hill Country.

131/265:  Jimmy's "art".  There's a small crack near the chainstay.  Still beautiful.
I arrived in Dallas on Friday morning. After lunch and a few errands, Michelle and I headed south. Our five hour drive was uneventful, save for some traffic and a detour. We stayed at The CycleHaus which is only a five minute bike ride from the ranch. The place is a small house on Jimmy's ranch. In addition to ranching, Jimmy is also half owner of a bike shop in Austin and is retired from the rodeo. We got settled and headed over to the Ranch. Supper that evening was at Hondo's in town.

Saturday we started with a pre-ride meeting at 8:30. The weather was overcast, 60, with mist. We rode out a few minutes after nine for an 84 mile route. The terrain reminded me a lot of St. Clair County in that the climbs were quick and steep, many of them stair steps. It was very much like riding up Triple Lakes Road from Stolle Quarry. We had great sag support, and only made one wrong turn! I also learned about cattle guards. These are sets of metal rods in the road that keep livestock from crossing. And boy did we see the livestock: cattle, steers, goats, sheep, alpacas, and llamas. By the end of the day I was tired but my legs felt pretty good. My lower back was tight, and my lady business hurt though. After a quick shower we went back to the ranch for Coach to talk on nutrition. As a group we headed back to Hondo's for a protein heavy supper. Knowing Sunday brought another long day, I opted for an early evening.

132/365:  Our first stop on Saturday.  Beautiful riding if not for the mist.
Sunday was a tough day for me mentally and physically. I didn't sleep well due to my icky cough, and the wind made the biking conditions less than stellar. To add to it, Chuck ended up with the short route group, so our long group lacked focus. Moreover, Rocky joined our band of cyclists. (think Bollwinkle and you'll figure out why I named him that). On the way to the tunnel, we faced a longish climb. Midway one of our girls faced a mechanical. A few of the group waited, but most pressed on. That's where I began to get crabby and fatigued. The wind was brutal on a smaller group, and Rocky just sucked wheel, doing no work, until he leap frogged to the next few riders. We finally all made it to the top and my legs and attitude were toast. I wanted to quit but knew we had some downhill on right ahead so I stayed on the bike. Finally at mile 36, I saw Michelle stopped and pulled the plug. My chest hurt, my legs were like pulled pork and my lady biz felt the red butt baboons' hineys look. We put the bike in the car and moved down the course. Luckily Michelle knows me well enough to know that I shouldn't quit so easily. She let me rest for a few miles, take some meds, and asked me if I was ready to go again. I hopped back on the bike and started pedaling. I should have been caught by the group within two minutes but wasn't. I kept going and looking back, no pack. I climbed a hill that reminded me of the ones on the Branson TT, still no group. Finally Michelle pulled back up and said there had been a crash. Jaime and two of the more novice riders were sent on and should reach me soon. When they got there I helped Jaime work with the girls. We rode as a foursome for about 15 minutes until the group caught on. The rest of the ride was good, and I even took a pull or two. I ended up with 68 miles for the day. My legs were tired. My back was great. My sugar still hurts to even type about her. The hills for day two were more like the Monroe County Hills, D Road to be specific. They were longer, but more sweeping, with a few good pitches.

Sunday afternoon brought a quick 20 minute massage, a trip to town, and another nutrition talk. Supper was at Alamo Grill. The fried food proved a bit too much for me as I revisited it around midnight.

133/365:  One of the shops we visited in town had license plates all over the floor.  Never fournd a MO or IL.
Monday all groups rolled out at eight. The weather was perfect. It was overcast and 60 to start with the sun coming out by nine. Our first segment was an 11 miles stretch with a good hill and a fun descent. The route choice was to turn around at the end of the road for a 22 mile out and back, or to head on for a 42 mile ride. In spite of the fire down below, I pushed on. The route had some challenging climbs and some great descents. I learned that I am not as confident of a descenders when I don't know what lies ahead. I spent a lot of the ride solo, or with Katie and Marianna. They're both strong cyclists with steady wheels. I pushed for a while to catch the group of six in front of us, but could never quite make it on.

Within 30 minutes of getting off the bike, I was showered and we were headed back to the Metroplex to see if I could catch on earlier flight home. While we made it to DFW with time to spare, AA had overbooked the early flight as well as my flight, so we had some time to kill. A little sushi, wine, coffee and conversation made the time pass quickly. Unfortunately bad weather in Chicago and Minneapolis caused my flight to leave 45 minutes late. Wheels touched down at 9:406 St. Louis time.

134/365:  The beginning of a biker's tan.  I have a feeling it will fade before it's truly set in for the season.
I truly enjoyed the entire experience. I've never had the opportunity to devote so much time to my training in one chunk like this. It taught me a lot about my abilities, mentally and physically. It also gave me a chance to ride with other people and quickly learn their strengths and areas for growth.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

130/365: Leaving on a Jet Plane

Tomorrow I'm Base Camp bound.  I'm spending four days in Fredericksberg, Texas to get some mileage in my legs before the race season starts.  I'm borrowing Michelle's bike, so I just need my gear and clothing.  The only catch is I need my gear and clothing in a 20" carry on bag so that we can head out quickly.  Here is my packing job.  Somehow I believe I enough for three days of riding and off bike necessities.  Mind you my cleats and helmet are in this bag as well.  In the spirit of full disclosure, I will say that Michelle is bringing a jacket for me, but otherwise this pretty well covers everything.  I will definitely be testing the claim that wool doesn't harbor odor.  I'll share my product test results post camp!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

129/365: How to Devour a Cupcake

Step 1: Eat all the sprinkles.

Step 2:  Lick off all the icing.

Step 3:  Scrape remaing icing off with your teeth.

Step 4:  Shove half the cupcake into your mouth.

Step 5: Shove the other half in your mouth.

My kids were on a cupcake kick the last few weeks that has come to a screeching halt as of tonight.  "Mommy, please don't make any more cupcakes.  We want to pick from the special jar for our treats for a while."  In spite of that, Bella did quite a job devoring hers.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

128/365: I Hate 270

I spent the day in St. Charles today.  That means my commute included a major portion of I-270.  That highway is never fun at rush hour.  I travel about 2 miles in 20 minutes.  It was the stretch between Gravios and I-44.  It's just insane.  And it frustrates me immensely.  All you see for miles in the distance is the red, beaty glow of stopped car taillights.  I know we don't have as bad of traffic as Chicago or New York or Los Angeles, but that doesn't comfort me as I waste valueable time sitting.  It's days like today that I wish St. Louis' mass transit infrastructure was better.  If I have to just sit, I would rather it be on a train where I could read or do something else productive rather than back talk the people on the radio who can't hear me.

Monday, February 14, 2011

127/365: Getting a Shot

I've been at my 365 Project a little over four months.  Some days it has been incredibly easy to find things to photograph.  Other days, I am running around the house at 9:30PM, desperately looking for something, anything so that I won't miss a day.  Today was the latter.  It was a Monday as is any other Monday.  I had two workouts and work to get in today.  I lived my life and nothing really caught my fancy or made me want to capture it digitally.  So as I'm changing clothes, getting ready for bed, I decided to photograph my wedding ring.

I'm not a big jewelry person.  I used to really love pretty jewelry.  I would anxiously await the new Tiffany's catalog and then look longingly at all the pieces we couldn't afford.  I used to wait with baited breath to see if Klucker bought me a new piece of jewelry for me birthday.  Then I started racing my bike.  My carbon envy changed from rings and pendants to frames and forks.  And I'm ok with that.

All joking aside, here's the story of my wedding ring.  When we talked about getting married, I told Klucker I didn't want a diamond engagement ring.  I didn't want to be like everyone else.  So my engagement ring has an emerald as a center stone and has the same design as my wedding band on either side.  But they didn't come as a set.  We were out looking for bands, and up until the point we bought this one, the plan was for ours to match.  We walked into Beins Jewelers downtown and I saw this one in the case.  My immediate reaction upon seeing it was to say to the salesman, without asking size or price, I'll take that one.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

126/365: The Dirty Valentine's Day Ride

Today's high was 65 degrees--in February!  Of course we had to have a road ride to celebrate.  We met at the Chateau Nadeau and headed out to Clayton Road to get some hill time.  Steph is doing Iron Horse in May, so she's working on her climbing threshold.  I believe we had 12 when we headed west.  We lost a few along the way due to varying workouts and comfort level. 

The weather was beautiful.  While I thought I was prepared for the muck of the roads, I know I didn't expect this.  No, those aren't spotted tiger sharks on my knee warmers, that's road grit.  The patch of skin I had showing between my knee warmers and my socks looked like I'd been sunning in Jamaica due to the dirt I collected along the way.  I will happily tackle the laundry issues if it means that outdoor riding involves less than three layers.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

125/365: The Reward

Superbowl Sunday

Boo:  Mommy, how come we never order pizza?

Me:  We have pizza every Friday night.

Boo:  Yeah, but you make it or it's frozen.  We never order it.

Me:  That's because we're poor.

Boo:  The TV says it's only $10 at Pizza Hut.  I have that much allowance.  If I pay for it, will you order pizza?

Me:  How about this?  If you get a sticker everyday this week at school, we'll order Pizza Hut and you can even choose what kind we have.

Boo:  Sissy, we're having pizza from Pizza Hut Friday!  It's gonna have cheese on bottom, pepperoni, hamburger, cheese on top and cheese it the crust.  You'll like it.

That's how the conversation went last Sunday.  And sure enough, even with kissing OR on the bus, my scammer of a son was able to pull off a perfect week of school.  Since I was going to be out last night, he agreed to put off having Pizza Hut until today.  We even decide to eat there instead of having it delivered.  And he got the pizza he described to his sister and even managed to eat three pieces.  Now, if only he's that good at school next week!

Friday, February 11, 2011

124/365: Girls' Night Out

I can't say as I remember the first time I met Shannon, it just seems as if I've always known her.  I know we have photos together from the school picnic parade when we were in kindergarten.  Stacey moved to town in second grade, but was in a different class.  We met in Mrs. Lucas' class in 3rd grade.  That was more years ago than I want to count.  By all rationale perspectives, the three of us shouldn't be friends.  We lead incredibly different lives and hold very different interests, yet I know at any time I could pick up the phone and call and ask for something and either one of them would make it happen. 

We don't see each other or talk as often as we should, so tonight was special.  Shannon had a birthday last week, so we went to dinner to celebrate before heading to a party for another classmate of ours.  It amazes me how easy our conversation is, how willing we are to share details with each other, even though we'll go weeks or months between conversations.  Ours is a friendship from a simpler time, from a time where you swapped peanut butter and jelly for extra potato chips.  We have lived through friendship beads, leg warmers, junior high, big hair, birth, break ups, divorce and death together.  Ours is a friendship that has withstood the test of time.  It's a safety zone for me.  It's a warmth inside.  I can't quantify it or measure it.  I can't explain it.  I can just feel it.  It's like that pair of warm, fuzzy sweatpants you reach for when you've had a rough day.  It envelops me with a comfort that lets me know everything will be ok.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

123/365: It's Still Not Gone

It's been over a week since our last snow storm.  We had a weekend with temps in the upper 30s/lower 40s and we've had a lot of sun, but the snow still remains.  When the storm moved in last week, it didn't seem all so big.  But the snow still remains.  I'm sure the extra few inches we got last weekend didn't help with clearing out this latest winter mess either.  This weekend looks to have fabulous temps though and the long range forecast shows warmer weather, so we may be seeing grass soon.  February usually seems to be our snowiest month, but maybe it will be that it all came early this year.  While I am usually one pulling for large amounts of snow, I'm ready for it to be done and over this year.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

122/365: A Life Changing Experience?

Three years ago I enrolled in a professional development opportunity.  It was my fourth attempt at attending this particular event.  It's a year-long leadership development series, with two sessions monthly and four out-of-town sessions.  It a huge time and resource commitment for participants and their sponsoring school districts.  I had heard the legend of attending the academy.  "Life changing experience" was the phrase most often used.  Now, as I think back on that time, I wonder about my own experience.

Let me start by saying that I learned many things during my year.  I got valuable information on SMART goals and data use, things that schools should be doing but typically only give lip service.  I got opportunities to listen to renowned experts and talk to some of the best minds in my field.  But I hesitate to say life-changing, or even career-changing, in that regards.

One of the most talked about pieces of the Academy is the outdoor experience.  The cadres from throughout the state converge on Lake of the Ozarks State Park for team building experiences, including a day/night of orienteering.  During OLE, you are in a group of 10-12, and it is doubtful you know any of them.  On our first day, we repelled and climbed a rock formation in addition to participating in team building exercises.  On our second day, after some rudimentary instruction, we, with our two guides, were taken out into the woods and dropped off.  We had to traverse the woods using topo maps and a compass, and locate eight flags.  We "cooked" two meals while we were orienteering and had many, many hours to form bonds.  As of today, I can name one other person in my group and my two group leaders.  So much for lasting relationships. 

Overall I did make some professional, and deeper, friendships with my local cadre.  I feel very comfortable calling upon the group if I am looking for a resource or idea.  For the first 12-24 months, there were a few that I talked with regularly.  As far as long-lasting friendships, there is only two participants with whom I still talk, and one of those is a current colleague.

I write about all this because I wonder what about the experience was life changing for enough people that aura.  I wonder if it's my personality that prevented me from being rocked to my core by the year.  I wonder if it was our group as a whole because I only know of a few who still speak to each other, and they were friends prior to starting.  I wonder if it's just a lot of hype created by former participants to justify that much time away from work.  I'll never have a definite answer, but I'll keep my commemorative mug on my desk and continue to ponder.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

121/365: My Schedule

eMy workout schedule hangs on the refrigerator door.  I originally started doing this so that Klucker would know what I had to do for the week; it seemed to help him buy into my training and understand why I was out of bed at 5AM on a Saturday morning.  It also let him see that I was trying to arrange my workout times so that they interfered with family time as little as possible.  Having it hang there has had some unintended consequences as well.  The workouts seem to mock me as I open the refrigerator door for a snack.  You notice I have a single black magnet on a day.  That only gets moved when the day's workouts are complete.  It's a silent yet loud reminder of the work I have in front of me if the schedule dictates an evening workout. 

I would venture to say I complete 94-100% of my workouts every month.  My only non-completion days lately are when it's sub 20 and I'm supposed to walk for 40 minutes.  I can't seem to dress warm enough or get my body temperature high enough to stay warm. 

It's funny, as much as this sheet of paper seems to dictate a large portion of my life, I never fail to get excited when it arrives in my Inbox.

Monday, February 7, 2011

120/365: Feeding the Addiction

 Six years ago shoes were simply a functional piece of clothing.  I wore matronly heels to work.  I had Timberland books to clunk around in during the winter and my Birks for the summer.  Shoes were utilitarian.  Although I watched Sex in the City, I didn't quite understand Carrie's facination with Jimmy Choo's and Manolo's.  I can pinpoint the day that all changed. 

I was pregnant with Bella.  I was rapidly gaining girth and wearing those not-so-flattering maternity clothes.  You know the ones--they want to be sexy but miss by a kilometer.  My dad was battling stage IV lung cancer.  I was working 60+ hours a week and had a toddler at home.  Get the picture?  I was at Nordy's doing a little shopping.  Since I couldn't buy cute clothes, I was gawking at shoes.  There they were.  Black patent leather peep toes.  Four inch wooden heels.  Sassy, sexy and everything I wasn't.  I bought them in a skinny minute and wore them to work Monday even though I had no business doing so.  My feet killed my by the end of the day.  Damn, I felt good though.  That was the beginning.  Slowly the sensible shoes started disappearing.  As I bought new "work" shoes, they all seemed to shoes I could wear working at another profession.  Eventually I learned how to walk in them, and actually run in them if I had to break up a fight. 

But wearing such killer shoes to work created a problem.  My feet ached on the weekends.  I watched the UGG trend unfold.  I saw girls in them all everywhere.  I swore I would not give into there plush, fur-lined warmth.  I can remember that fateful trip to Nordy's as well.  I set out to buy a pair of warm boots.  It was a snow day afterall.  Anything but UGGs would do.  I asked for the Northface, the Nikes.  Who knew size 9 was such a popular size?  The sales lady kept pushing the UGGs and I kept saying no.  Finally, with no other options, she tried one last ploy.  "Just try them on."  Five pairs later I think I maybe should have kept saying no.  But how I love them.  I actually get out of the shower in the morning, dry off, and put on my bathrobe and UGGs while I get ready.  I know that's probably TMI, but I really, really love them.   

Sunday, February 6, 2011

119/365: How Long Has That Been Here?

My 365 Project has caused me to be more aware of my surroundings.  I find myself looking for opportunities to take photos.  I also find whereas before I would think "I wish I had my camera" now I pull it out and take a shot.  Of course sometimes I wonder what people around me must be thinking as I snap away like a crazy papparazzi. 

Today Steph, Kate and I took the cx bikes out for a ride on the Columbia Bottoms.  In spite of the massive amounts of snow we've gotten lately, the roads were in pretty good condition--cinders being the only real hazard.  On the way out past the sod farm, I was counting down the minutes until I got to turn around and begin heading home.  I assume my head was down because I didn't see this tree.  Of course, I've ridden past this point countless number of times and I can't remember this tree.  I don't know if it was recently struck by lightning or if I've just been oblivious or if the starkness of it against the snow caused me to take notice.  Whatever it was, it caused me to stop my hard effort to snap a shot.  The landscape in the bottoms felt raw and harsh yesterday.  The snow had blanketed the fallow fields, with only the carcasses of past crops showing through.  During the ride, the barreness seemed to zap my energy and make me feel as if I were running from something.  While it was good to be outside, not on the trainer, I was happy to be finished and home where it felt more secure.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

118/365: Snowy Girl

Waiting for Castlewood to open. 
Meet Ernestine.  She's the newest addition to my stable. 
I got up this morning and ran a quick 30 minute route, not realizing what awaited me.   We had 3-4" of fresh snow, with more still coming down.  So much for the flurries predicted.  I guess that forecast was along the same lines as Snowpocolypse earlier this week.  The running was a bit frustrating in that I dealt with blowing snow and unplowed roads.  It felt like I was running in sand.  My post-run plan was to meet a group out at Castlewood for a mountain bike ride this morning.  Now I was more than a little apprehensive. 

Klucker loaded up the bikes and while I took care of some Frostbike business.  We headed west.  The highways were anything but clear.  As we descended to the entrance of Castlewood, I really wondered if it was a good idea.  We got there and had to wait for the gate to open--they were still plowing the lot.  We finally got geared up and ready to go at 8:30.  Ryan, Mike, Lee, Klucker and I headed down the road.  It only took about 200 yards before Ryan got an up close idea of how deep the snow was.  We stuck to the trails down by the river; that was fine with me.  My bike handling still needs a lot of work.  All in all, I was pretty happy with my efforts.  I wiped out twice.  Only one section where I felt like I had to walk the bike.  But of course we were on the flat, easy trails too.  I'll give mountain biking another go next weekend.  I don't see it becoming my main focus, but it was a good way to be able to ride outside in some pretty unfavorable conditions.

Friday, February 4, 2011

117/365: Really, Diesel?

Klucker and I met the Nadeau's for dinner tonight.  I can't tell you the last time we went out for dinner, much less went out for dinner on a Friday night without kids outside of Columbia.  It's a pretty big deal for us.  We had dinner at the Fountain on Locust.  The food was good.  The ice cream was fabulous.  The company was incredible.  Excellent evening all around. 

We got home and I began getting things ready for tomorrow's ride.  I tend to forget things if I'm rushed, so I typically plan and organize ahead.  For some reason, I focused on the kitchen counter.  It's then that I realized that a bag of bagels was missing.  I love good bagels, so I buy a baker's dozen from Bread Co every two weeks and keep them in zipper bags to stay fresh.  It's a much better option than grocery store bagels.  However, recently I've had to buy bagels weekly.  Why?  The picture should tell most of the story.  Diesel has amazing reach and a love for good bagels that matches mine.  Leave that baggie any where near the edge of the counter and poof! it's magic.  Diesel makes them disappear.  The furry fiend ate four tonight.  He's been know to take on a half dozen.  I've been getting better and either keeping them in the pantry or at the very back of the counter, but our cleaners must have rearranged the items when they wiped the counter off this afternoon.  This dog and his bagel habit are getting expensive.

Let's Bring Back the Good Ol' Days

Ah, the good ol' days . . . you remember, don't you?  The time of milk and honey—the days when kids and society weren't "soft"—the days when kids trudged to the bus stop or school through snow and ice and extreme cold.  Just because we did it, does that make it right?


This winter has really gotten under my skin.  Perhaps it's because I'm a more frequent visitor on social media sites and so I hear and see more of people complaining about days off school for kids.  Yesterday about half of the school districts in the area cancelled classes.  I can't answer to the exact reasons for all the districts, but I trust, since yesterday's cancellation became the first "make up" day for most districts, it was made in good conscious.  What bothers me are the people who are complaining about it.  And what really bothers me is that they are continually pushing back to the days when they were in school, as if nothing has changed in education or society since 1982.


When I was in school, we didn't have computers in every classroom.  I guess that means we shouldn't have them now.  When I was in school, teachers didn't have telephones in their classroom or voice mail.  Let's pull them out.  When I was in school, a typical lunch consisted of a slice of pizza, corn, apple sauce and milk.  Let's bring back that uber healthy fare.  When I was in school, I rode my bike there without a helmet.  Let's do ban bicycle helmets.  When I was in school, students with special needs were pulled out of the classroom and labeled and stigmatized and regarded as stupid.  Let's revive self-contained classrooms.  When I was in school the teachers still smoked in the teachers' lounge.  Let's fill our schools with smoke again. 


I'm not an automatic fan of the latest and greatest of everything.  If something isn't broke, I don't take the time to look for a solution.  I also don't make a habit of second guessing professionals in their business.  If my accountant tells me that a deduction isn't allowed on my taxes, I don't take it.  If a radiologist tells me my arm is broken, I trust that it is broken.  If my technician tells me my car needs a new battery, I replace the battery.  If your child's district cancels classes, trust that they believe it's the best decision for the kids.  And trust that if they err, it will be on the side of safety.  It won't be done because the superintendent wants to stay home.  Typically he or she travels to the office regardless.  I know it's frustrating to rearrange a schedule to accommodate a snow day, but it's also part of being a parent.  

Thursday, February 3, 2011

116/365: A Hard Day of Play

Snow Day 3 for the school goers in the Klucker family.  Today we changed it up a little though.  The kids were stir crazy and wanting to see friends.  Their pre-school was open, so we decided they should go.  Obviously it was a big day for Boo.  I came home from a haircut to find him on the couch like this at 7PM.  He wanted to watch the History Channel to see if the alien show was on . . . Klucker looked up a few minutes later and he was out cold.  We woke him up for supper, but it was obvious his heart wasn't into eating.  It didn't take him long to go back to dreamland once I got him snuggly in bed a little later.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

115/365: Phase I Completed

My snow days have been a blessing in more ways than one.  I used the last two days to get things done that I didn't have time for over the weekend.  One of those things was my laundry room remodel.  I spent a few hours yesterday and today painting my first two walls.  I also put together the freestanding drawer unit that now houses my laundry supplies.  The next step will be mounting the hanging hampers on the wall under the window. 

Today Bella and I were home alone, as Boo went to work with Klucker.  She's such my clingy child.  She sat on the floor in the laundry room, with my iPad, the entire time I was painting.  I had to giggle a lot because I heard how I must sound as I encourage her to do things.  "You're doing such a good job, Mommy."  "Your painting is so pretty."  "You're really doing a great job staying inside the lines, Mom."  "Mommy you're a great painter."

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

114/365: Snowpocalypse, Snowmageddon, SnOMG

The storm of the century turned out to be the hype of the century for St. Louis.  All along the forecasters were saying that this would be a hard system to predict.  Early reports were saying that Kansas City and Jefferson City were getting massive amounts of snow and that the system was headed straight to the Lou.  My photos for today are my time lapse of evidence of what happened and what didn't happen.  I took pictures every hour from 7AM until 4PM, hoping to chronicle the massive amounts of snow we were going to get.  Well, as of now, the snow has just begun to fall and the expected totals for the area are less than three inches.  Now, that's not to say we didn't get inclement weather.  Schools were cancelled for today and are already cancelled for tomorrow due to about three inches of sleet and ice.  My understanding is that the upper atmosphere didn't get as cold as expected in this area so we got hit with the ice.  Areas to north, where the atmosphere was colder, got pummelled with snow.  To be honest, I was disappointed when I heard Chicago got the thundersnow we were expecting.  I was hoping for massive amounts of the white stuff so that we could build snowmen and go sledding.  I have to be satisfied with the two days off work though.