Author Archives: Kami

 
 

A Beast In the Night

I may be slightly guilty of complaining about my neighbors on Facebook. In most respects they are nice, normal people with young kids, relatives, friends, a dog and a trampoline. I wonder, though, if they celebrate more than the average family. And I also wonder, often, how to disable the bass speaker from their stereo system in a quiet, legal way.

This past weekend I found myself actually wishing for the simple annoyance of that bass thump thump thump vibrating through my bedroom wall at any hour of the day or night. What could possibly make me wish for such a thing?

Wilderness camping.

Yes, you heard me right.

Wilderness camping.

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Aw… peace, quiet, beauty and serenity

When I think Wilderness I imagine large open meadows filled with wildflowers, pines intermingled with quaking aspens, blue skies, birds twittering, chipmunks chattering, and the smell of a campfire, with a soft breeze rustling the leaves. Maybe it would even include a brief afternoon downpour, which makes the air even fresher and more wilderness-like.

 

Our little outing included all that in glorious abundance. Exactly what a person seeks when they go out into the wild. At least, that is what THIS person seeks when going to a wilderness area. Don’t you?

Apparently other people, people I do not comprehend, think wilderness is for unmuffled engine noises and dust and the smell of gasoline and exhaust.

 

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The Beast’s Minions, no doubt.

Not long after setting up camp, in the WILDERNESS, we realized we were way too close to a dirt road that apparently compares to Times Square in mountain terms. Holy smokes! Every motorcycle, ATV, four-wheeler, jeep, and zoomy loud obnoxious vehicle ever invented drove up and down that road.

 

We took comfort in the thought, the absolute certainty really, that once the sun set the traffic would abate.

But alas, we found that assumption to be completely and totally incorrect. In fact, some of the wheeled monstrosities seemed to amp up the volume after dark.

Somewhere around 10:30 p.m. someone unleashed some Mad Max movie vehicle from the depths of Hades. I told MSH, “I think the apocalypse is happening. Isn’t that what the end of the world sounds like?”

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This “War Rig” is actually from the movie Mad Max, but could easily be what I heard and felt.

I pictured amplifiers attached to where a muffler would be, flames shooting out the top and back, and a doomsday soundtrack that normally plays in a sci-fi movie when an entire planet is about to be destroyed. The driver most certainly looked like one-eyed Dennis Hopper from Water World. And I’m certain the beast was a half-track, or some tank or a war machine. This thing made our tent rattle and vibrate and I swear the ground shook. The fact that lightning and thunder were intermittently happening only added to the creep factor. Unlike the other vehicles that blasted through after dark, this one could be heard two to three miles away, coming and going.

 

Unnerving. Definitely not sleep inducing.

So MSH and I decided to read a bit and talk over what we were reading. A few more, by comparison, fairly quiet ATVs blasted through, surprisingly. Near midnight we turned out the lights and assumed we’d sleep through the night.

No flames shooting, since it’s daytime, but definitely similar to what I felt and heard.

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No flames shooting in the daylight,  but definitely similar to what I felt and heard.

Until 1:45 a.m. when The Beast Built From War Machines of Horror Movies returned, driving slower and if possible, louder. The mountains echoed with the roar of this monstrosity, I swear house sized boulders voluntarily rolled down mountains and trees fell of their own accord at the sound of this thing.

 

What little bit of sleep I did manage was nudged awake by birds and chipmunks at the first hint of dawn.

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A cousin of The Beast, no doubt. Not so scary in the daylight.

The ATVs didn’t wake up until five hours later, a very welcome respite.

 

If wilderness is so loud and ridiculous, how do I escape the noise and chaos of mankind and their machines? I guess I need to try backpacking miles and miles away from any roads. Or try setting up camp next to a very loud river. Or both.

I suppose I’d better get my backpacking body back in shape.

mad max 3In the meantime, I guess I could be more tolerant of my neighbor’s late night stereo blasting. At least it’s not some vehicle from Mad Max showing up at my doorstep, right?

Have you ever noticed that so much about life and the troubles we go through is all about perspective?

 

~~~~~~~

 

Disclaimer #1: When I was a young’un, dad and his pals and their families, all headed up into the mountains from time to time specifically to ride motorcycles all over the place. We were oblivious to the thought that maybe our noise and dust weren’t as delightful to others as they were to us. But once it was getting dark, those machines got parked for the night. No one would mistake our little engines for some beast from the underworld, that’s for dang sure.

Disclaimer #2: More logical people than I have suggested having a chat with the neighbors about turning down the music a bit after midnight. But, I’ve found it’s more fun to whine on Facebook about it than to resolve the situation.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Categories: Humor, Nature, Outdoors, Traffic | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments
 
 

The Night the Universe Spoke to Me

I think the universe might be sending me a message.

What would the universe say to you if it could speak its ageless wisdom into your mind and heart? Would you suddenly have your priorities rearranged? Would life become more meaningful? Would you change your daily walk and talk? It’s a profound thought, don’t ya think?

And how would that message make itself known to you? Would you hear some actual voice? Would thoughts flow into your mind in a color filled river of universe melding consciousness? Would a sign along the freeway have your name and words written just for you? Would you get a letter in the mail? Or may be it would even come across as a text.

iphoneMy message from the universe looked like HTML code. And it said one word I understood: “The”. How weird is that? Unfortunately, that message also went out to all my blog readers as well. They probably figured my blog had been hacked. In fact, one of my daughters asked if it had been hacked, which is how I found the message the universe sent me.

Now most people wouldn’t see much meaning in the word “the” and some HTML code. But I did.

So last night, after epic fireworks I won’t even attempt to describe here, the universe took matters into its own hands. (Does the universe have hands?) Actually, in this case it wasn’t hands that created the one word blog post, but a different body part, and it’s really close to my heart.

Without being any more vague than that, can I just say, it’s not a good idea to put your phone certain places for temporary storage. And let’s just suggest that a bra is a really dumb spot for a phone to hang out.

So that weird blog post I’ve taken as a sign from the universe. Actually, two signs. First, “put the phone away in the pocket where it belongs.” Second, “you NEED to get back to writing.”

Seriously, it’s the universe not so quietly telling me I need to finish “the” sentence. It’s time to get back to writing. Even if no one reads what I write, it’s always been something I do for myself, not for others, not really.

I paid big bucks to attend a writer’s conference a couple of months ago. I was looking for inspiration and motivation and camaraderie. And I found all of that there. But I failed to translate it into action. Putting my fingers to the keyboard just didn’t happen. But now it will.

I will get back to writing because the universe did the equivalent of a butt dialed phone call, except it was through WordPress and my boobs did the writing. That’s some weird karma, if you ask me.

 

 

 

Categories: Uncategorized | 2 Comments
 
 

The Average Person Awards Show

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From Hallmark.com

I have a very humorous friend on Twitter and Facebook (you should look him up and follow) who posted the following comment last night:

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and then one of his friends said this:


So I said this:

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thinking the idea would catch and spread like fire in an August field of dried weeds. But it didn’t. Weird. I suppose everyone was riveted by whatever particular daily famous people awards show was playing.

But I added another of my own: 

and one other guy added: img_7933

So (thanks to Lourie J Kolar whose brilliant idea it was) I thought I’d write up some more of my own categories for:

The Average Person Awards Show!! 

*Cue annoying music that cuts off mid-measure*

Here to present this year’s categories, wearing Riders Slim Fit She’s Not Kidding Anyone Jeans, with a Kohl’s 30% off three quarter sleeve purple fake sparkly T-shirt highlighted by her plain gold 36 year old wedding band is none other than the woman who everyone mistakes as their long lost aunt, cousin, neighbor or old girlfriend, Kami Tilby.

*Sound of crickets.*

Thank you for holding your applause. Let’s get right to it.

Category 1:

For Outstanding Efforts in Resisting the Call of Social Media when Real Life was More Important.

Category 2:

Working on a College Degree While Holding Down a Full Time Job and Supporting a Family.

Category 3:

For Holding Your Tongue When A Witty Response Would Have Been Stunning But Hurtful

And in the same category for the shorter interest span: Deleting A Scathing Comment Before Posting It and Walking Away From the Electronic Device.

Category 4:

Staying Up All Night With Your Kid/Mom/Spouse/Friend while they Puked/Cried/Seizured/Melted Down and Still Carried On a Full Day after No Sleep

Category 5:

Most Creative Multiple Late Excuse Note Writing for a Junior Or Senior in High School

Category 6:

Fixing Dinner for the Gazillionth Time Without Complaining Outloud

Category 7:

Waking Up and Going Off to Earn a Living for the Trillionth Time With No Recognition or Applause and Not Breaking Windows or Rioting While Having the Government Take Thirty Percent

Category 8:

Speaking Kindly and Forgiving that Sibling Who Still Pushes your Buttons
So The Family Can Be Together in Peace

Category 9:

Stretching a Dollar Past Its Physical Capacity to Feed A Family Well Beyond Reason

Special Semi-Political Category Because It’s My Blog and I Can Do What I Want:

Public School Teachers Who Selflessly Work Well Beyond Their Compensated Time to Meet All Standards Prescribed and to Teach, Cajole, Love, Care For and Protect Children They Aren’t Even Related To While They Get to Hold Down a Second Job to  Pay for the Opportunity to Work the First One.

Category 10:

Single Mothers and Single Fathers Who Do The Work Normally Handled By Two People and Still Raise Nice Kids Who Respect Women, the Elderly and Children

Category 11:

Starting a Small Business on a Feather and a Lot of Sweat and Prayer Against All Odds and In the Face of Economic Ruin

Category 12:

Being Honest and Trustworthy and Maintaining Integrity Even When It Costs You Your Job

A LOT MORE POTENTIAL CATEGORIES

Make up your own category and comment below. Nominate someone. Heck, nominate yourself. A few people need to be recognized for the outstanding everyday effort they put out continually and will never ever be noticed or applauded for it.

And no, this is not some lame, participation award people get just for showing up. There, I said it.

Maybe we just need to hand out compliments to people we know for a job well done. Thank the kid who cleans up after you’ve spilled popcorn while watching that movie. Thank the people who fill in potholes, keep the electricity running, haul off your trash, and clean up the parks. Give a high-five to whoever you think deserves it, because they probably do.

We can all use a little recognition for our efforts, don’t ya think?

This next part is the very important small print but in average size:

Voting for this year’s categories will be accepted until February 28. You can vote if you’re an average person. No famous persons allowed. Sorry. Being Average has its privileges. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Categories: Awards, People, Priorities, The World | Tags: , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Learning Love and Loss

When She Loved Me <<—(click on this link to hear the song. )
Today is a bittersweet day.

I received one of the greatest gifts of my life 29 years ago today. I celebrate the birth of one of my children every January third. She’s brought joy into my life, like children do, and like only she can. 

I also lost one if the greatest gifts of my life on January third three years ago. My friend Kathy passed away from the ravages of multiple myeloma. 

I only knew her, really, while she had cancer. Our lives intertwined in a surprisingly fast way. The friendship lasted only five endlessly painful (for her) short (for me) years. 

I wrote about her, about our friendship a few times. If you didn’t know her, you really missed out on one of God’s best creations. It’s easy to paint the dead with rosy hues, we humans do that. Kathy deserves it. But she was flawed, too. She could be bossy, and perfectionistic, but she did it with a charming smile and a strangely kid-like voice so you didn’t mind so much. 

My daughter moved a couple years ago, a three day drive away. Too far for frequent visits. Not to mention she’s busy raising a family, like all my kids are. In a way I’ve lost them all to life’s path. That’s what children do, grow up and leave you. 

Anyway, I’m a bit melancholy today and this song captures that friendship, that joy, the losses, the memories. 

Listen and see if you can hear Kathy’s laughter. Or maybe you’ll feel a bit of childhood’s hand holding yours. Either way. 

Happy January third. 

Categories: Uncategorized | 1 Comment

The Thing You Do, But Can’t

windup_alarm_clockYou know that feeling when the alarm goes off at whatever-dark-thirty, you reach over to turn it off, and every muscle in your body protests? Or maybe it’s your throat which feels like it turned into sandpaper overnight. Or your voice has dropped an octave and breathing feels like how Darth Vader sounds. Sometimes you’ve simply run out of oomph and the fumes you were running on have disappeared. You know that feeling.

Yup, that one.

Most days you just power through whatever aches your body normally carries. The constant twinge in your back, or the arthritic beginnings in your fingers, maybe a sore ankle from a decades old break or sprain, the hip that grinds away at your energy, a shoulder strain that needs surgery which you’re resisting; these are simply daily companions you’ve grown accustomed to, right?

You go through your ritual of stretching, steaming the aches awake in the shower, taking some over the counter mostly-placebo. And of course, mentally, whether you know it or not, you give yourself the pep talk, the “people are counting on me” speech, the everything-will-go-to-hell-in-a-hand-basket if I’m not there reminder.

Then you go, and you do. Whatever. It. Takes.

You get through it. You do it.

But some mornings, life throws on a few extra weights, like a cold, or the flu, or simply utter exhaustion from doing The Thing You Do day in and day out without ever really regrouping.

The Thing You Do: running a business, being the mom, school or college, caring giving to a loved one, training,  employment, volunteering, being the dad, driving the kids, getting to an appointment, attending an event, the endless list. It’s probably not just The Thing singular, it’s probably plural. In fact, it’s rare if it’s one Thing.

Somedays you gotta call it done before you ever get out of bed. But you can’t. Because you’re the only parent. You’re the only caregiver. You’re the ONE everyone counts on.

So you drag yourself to the shower, drag yourself through the pain, take a little more over the counter whatever might help and chase it down with extra caffeine and hope your can get through until it’s okay to call it bedtime.

If you have a back up person to call, now is the time to call them. If you can call in sick, this would be the day for that. If you don’t have any backup then you power on unending Netflix streaming for the littles and leave cereal and sippy cups out on the table and attempt to sleep on the couch or floor between requests for every little thing. It’s a sad picture of you with kleenex stuffed up your nostrils and the mangy robe wrapped around your aching, worn down, sleep-deprived body.

Now is a great time for prayer. And tears. Tears are good and cleansing and cathartic. Crying while praying can help a lot. Or it can make your nose clog up even more and maybe give you a bad headache to add to the other crud you’re dealing with.  And then you might end up feeling mad at God for not healing you instantly and maybe even blame him for feeling worse. Don’t do that part. That is not helpful.

If someone asks the unanswerable question: “Is there anything I can do to help?” don’t you dare answer with that wimpy, ridiculous reply: “Oh, I’m fine. I can handle this myself.”

That’s just nonsense.

Tell them, “Yes, as a matter of fact there is something you can do to help!!”

Pick something. Anything.

  • Wash, dry and fold a load of laundry? Yes, please.
  • Bring over a steaming pot of some delicious soup? Absolutely.
  • Chocolate? Of course.
  • Vacuum the floors? Amen.
  • Wash up the dishes? Bless you for your offer to help me.
  • Do a grocery run for a few basics? Wonderful.
  • Babysit the kids for a few hours of uninterrupted sleep? What a saint.
  • Take out the garbage? Hallelujah!
  • Stay with this person while I take a time out? Glorious.

I’m sure you could add other things you wish a lovely house elf or sparkly fairy or magical unicorn would swoop in and take care of.

Guess what?

Other human beings are the real elves, fairies and unicorns of our lives.

We should all have a list like that already made up for the inevitable day that LIFE hits the fan and the blowback is too much to handle. In fact, we could have each to-do item written on a card, like an emergency contact, and ask the semi-committed volunteer to select a card. Then you’re not even really asking but merely fulfilling their wish to be helpful. Is that an amazing plan, or what?

Not that I’d do that. Ever.

I hate asking for or needing help. I just want to be an independent island nation, completely self-sufficient and proud. Letting people help me makes me feel like a loser.

Right? Isn’t that why we say, “I’m fine, I don’t need anything,” even though we’re hanging on by our fingernails to the last frayed end of the rope with the wick of the candle burnt all the way through from both ends to the middle? (pick your metaphor)

But I’m not a loser if I need help. I’m just a human. And so are you.

Don’t you sometimes offer to help someone if they need something and they answer with that silly “Oh, I’m fine” nonsense? Don’t you wish they’d actually let you help? You don’t think they’re a loser, do you? Nope.

Alrightythen.

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Photo by Liz Lawley.

If you hit that wall. If you can’t do another freaking day of The Thing without a break, a rest, a respite, a me-day, a mental health break, then dang it, ask for help from wherever you need to. Call in, step away, turn off the phone, text, email, voice in your head. Take a day for you, to heal, to rest, to be.

 

I give you permission. The universe gives you permission. Actually, you don’t really  need permission. Just take care of yourself and let others help take care of you, even if it’s just you venting to them about the weight on your shoulders and in your heart.

Do it.

Just skip doing The Thing You Do for one day. Just rest.

Best wishes from a fellow human who occasionally needs people and rest just like  you.

Now I’m off to do The Thing I Do until the day I can’t.

Categories: Being Human, Mental Health, physical health | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments
 
 

Open Letter to That Motorcycle Dude In the Hotel Laundry Room

Dear Motorcycle Dude in the hotel laundry room,

It’s been over a month since I ran into you at that hotel a couple hours outside Yellowstone Park and you’re still on my mind. I thought perhaps if I wrote you a letter it might clear my head, or at least sort out my thoughts.

I don’t normally wash laundry at hotels, in fact, this is the first time ever. I didn’t even know hotels had a laundry room that guests could use. Pretty handy.

Clearly I startled you more than you surprised me. I was just standing there with my laundry bag of whites waiting for the single washing machine to finish its cycle, wondering who else in the fully booked hotel needed to throw in a load. I figured whoever it was would be in shortly and I’d just wait rather than wandering back to the room. You walked in just as the cycle on the washer ended, which was dang good timing, if you ask me.

When you walked in with your face turned away from me and toward the washer I thought you were a woman with your long wavy hair. But I was wrong. When I caught a glimpse of your face the beard gave it away.

I said something dumb like, “Wow, good timing there.” And you about jumped out of your shorts. Obviously you hadn’t seen me when you walked in. If the situation had been reversed I’d have probably fainted.

800px-yamaha_fzs600_fazer_rj02“Oh, hey,” you said, sounding all cool and collected, as you gathered up your clean wet clothes and tossed them into the only dryer. You threw out a conversation starter with,  “I road my bike up from Cali. There’s a bunch of us. Been up in Yellowstone.” You reached into the washer a little further.  “Man it’s crowded up there.”

“Yeah,” I said, trying to sound cool myself. “I’ve been wanting to get back up to Yellowstone but I figure I’d try to go after the crowds settle out, maybe after Labor Day, in September.” In my head I knew it’d be pretty dang cold already in September, but that’d be the best time to go for someone who doesn’t like traffic and crowds like me. I don’t like the cold either, but it’s the lesser of the three evils.

“It was nice. Glad I went.” You settled your quarters into the coin slots and pushed in the lever, and started up the dryer. “All yours,” you said with a smile.

“Thanks. Nice meeting ya,” I replied.

“Same here,” you replied. And you were out the door and down the hall.

I started my load of washing, adding the miniature box of laundry powder MSH had gotten at the front desk, pushed in my own quarters and levers, and set my phone timer.

Half an hour later, when I went back to the tiny laundry room the washer hadn’t finished its cycle yet. So, once again I stood there waiting. The dryer was still tumbling a load dry, too. A couple minutes later you walked in and said, “hey!” like we were old friends.

“Hey there,” I said back.

electric_clothes_dryerAs you were pulling out your dried clothes you offered up this surprisingly personal information, “I have a couple twenty year old boys. One of em has a baby, dang kid. “

“Sweet!” I said.

“Yeah,” you answered, stopping with your laundry gathering for a moment. Then you added this gem, “I can be standing there at work getting yelled at by some plumber and my phone will ding with a text. “ Then you held your hand up like you’re telling a guy to hold that thought a second. Then you go on. “I’ll look at my text on the phone,” and here you held up an imaginary cell phone, ” and there’s a picture of the baby. Just then I could care less what I’m getting yelled at for. My face breaks into a smile. Man!” And your eyes lit up like how I feel when I’m with my own grand babies.

“Grandkids are the best, aren’t they?” I answered. “Makes it all worthwhile.”

“No kidding!” you said as you gathered your laundry into both arms. I grabbed the door handle and pulled it open for you. “Thanks!” you said as you made your way down the hall.

I gathered my wet laundry from the washer and tossed it into the dryer wondering why you chose to tell me about your sons and a grand baby. I don’t think you mentioned if it was a girl or boy. I wish I’d asked to see a picture. Dang it!

I felt lucky to have heard about this small joy in your life. I have no idea even what your name is or what part of California you’re from. I think the juxtaposition of a “motorcycle dude” as a softhearted dad and grandpa just caught me off guard. It shouldn’t have. After all, my son rides a motorcycle, and he’s one of the nicest guys I know.

I definitely have a tendency of putting people in categories, not as a judgmental thing, just as a way of simplifying life. If I think of every single person as a complicated, intricate puzzle of relationships and feelings I might get overwhelmed by worry, or love or responsibility or concern, but maybe I wouldn’t. Maybe I’d just be happier and more open to possibilities.

Thank you for sharing that tiny bit of information about a huge part of your life. You opened my eyes and heart. Every time I see someone on a motorcycle now, I smile. And I wonder how they are and who they are.

From now on, when I see a motorcyclist, I’d like it to remind me not to box people into categories so quickly. Sure, people can be messy and complicated, but they can also bring such sweetness and light.

motorcycle-safety-signHey, you stay safe out there, especially on those California highways. I wish people in cars would be more careful, y’know, look twice, pay better attention. I’d hate to have anything bad happen to you.

 

With affection,

The lady in the laundry room,

Kami

 

 

 

 

 

 

Categories: Being Human, People, Transportation, Travel | Tags: , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Happy Birthday to One of the Good Guys

Big J always did like a hot bike… Even better if he could ride with a friend, or a cute chick on the back.

Happy Birthday to one of the best guys I know. I might be a little biased, since he is my son, after all, but he’s definitely one of the good guys! And everyone seems to agree with me, so it must be true.

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Riding his Hot Wheels with the little sister on the back. 

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Is this a cool looking kid? He’s cook looking cuz he is cool!

jer and steph and Harley

The Happy Harley couple a few years ago.

Categories: Uncategorized | 1 Comment
 
 

Back in the Saddle, Again

June 14, 2016 Tuesday  ~ A month after my bike crash.

I woke up to a debate in my head.

I was tired and so I thought maybe I could justify not going out on my bike because of that. But I knew I’d feel better psychologically and physically if I rode. I tried to tell myself I’d exercise somehow at home. A bike ride sounded scary, potentially dangerous. My face remembers hitting the sidewalk; my head remembers the pain that lasted several weeks. My whole body remembers feeling out of control and suddenly, inexplicably, thrown to the ground.

I somehow have to push past all of that and make myself get out of bed, dress in my biking clothes, put my necessities in my pockets, fill a water bottle, tie on my shoes. I remember to leave the bedroom door open so if I have to call Lynn he’ll hear the phone ring. I put on my helmet, tighten up my chin strap a bit, since I remember the helmet coming off after hitting the sidewalk, or at least it seems like it did. I set my phone to track my ride distance and speed. I roll the bike out of the garage; push the button to close the garage. I adjust the pedals; I walk to the end of the driveway with the bike in hand. I look both ways down the street.

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Not my helmet.

And then I’m riding. Every push on the pedals feels awkward, I can’t get comfortable on the seat, and my grip is too tight on the handlebars. My knees remind me that they took a hit and aren’t quite fully recovered. I’m on high alert for any tiny obstacle, extra careful on turns. I’m tired already after only half a mile. I remember that the first mile is just to loosen up. I try to relax and start to get a rhythm.

I turn the bike south, the sun already too warm on my left; I push through and start to find I’ve settled in to the seat. I start to remember the exhilaration of moving under my own power, although I’m certainly not riding at any speed to remark about. If a runner came by they’d probably pass me.

I told myself I would only ride four miles and not cross any major streets. And yet, I find myself at a major arterial road and wait, probably longer than I need to, for traffic to clear. Then I ride past my own personal boundary line. A half mile later I turn and ride back to the same road, take my time, cross back, negotiate a curb and ride north an entire mile. At that point I’m sensing the bike react to every nuance of the terrain beneath me. I lift myself off the saddle to negotiate a large bump in the path. The bike manages through some rocky terrain as I turn south again. My hands squeeze the handlebars too hard and go numb. I shake the feeling back into each one, hesitant to let go even briefly. I regret this unpaved section, with its unpredictability and slippery sand and varied rock, but I remember that I’ve ridden this path dozens and dozens of times without incident at a much higher speed.

I turn, I negotiate another sidewalk to cement, and then cement to sidewalk and I don’t slam to the ground. I finally remember to breathe, although I’m sure I’ve been unconsciously breathing the whole time. I roll into the driveway, hop off the bike; punch in the garage code, back my bike into its parking spot.

I remove my helmet. I look at my phone and the app tells me I rode four and three quarter miles. Not much, not far, twenty-five percent of what I was doing with frequency only a month or so ago.

I report in to my cousin with a text.

Her response heartens me, makes me feel like a champion.

I did it.

I can do it again.

There’s no guarantee that a fall or crash or some craziness won’t happen again. In fact, it’s probably inevitable. But I’m more mindful now, less cavalier. I know there’s a lot I don’t know about the sport that only experience will teach me.

I know I can’t give it up. It’s one of the major things that keep my mind alert and my depression-prone psyche on an even keel.

Maybe next time the pre-ride debate will be shorter. And the time after that, or two or three, maybe there won’t be a debate at all.

~~~~~~~

“Inaction breeds doubt and fear. Action breeds confidence and courage. If you want to conquer fear, do not sit home and think about it. Go out and get busy.”   ~Dale Carnegie

 

 

 

Categories: Biking, Mental Health, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Do I Hold On or Let Go?

While out biking a few months ago I discussed the following question with a friend of mine.

“When you’re falling off your bike do you think you should hold on to the handlebars or let go of the handlebars?”

Bouncing the question around got us no where other than she had a story to tell about a friend’s husband who chose to take a steep path downhill when the rest of the group decided to carry their bikes around the obstacle. It didn’t have a very happy ending, short or long term.  I think she said he held on to the handlebars, but that didn’t have much bearing on the painful long-lasting consequences of a plain old bad decision.

I even asked my cousin, the super athlete, for her opinion and she said it didn’t really matter and that it depended. Which at the time I thought was a lame answer.

This morning I came to understand her answer.

FullSizeRender-3 copy 5Woke up long before the sun kissed the horizon today and planned a quick six or eight mile ride to round out the weeks mileage to at least forty. I was on the trail hoping to avoid crowds. A gloriously cool morning after a 100 degree day yesterday, I reveled in my freedom and the glow of the sunrise. I was making good time, for me, and enjoying every minute of it.

Making the transition from gravel onto the sidewalk, which I’ve done hundreds of times, my wheel caught the edge and refused to pop up over and instead threw me to the ground.

It happened in this slow motion super fast way I can’t explain. It’s like being in a dream where your brain just can’t quite process what’s happening because it’s so out of the norm of your experience doing this easy thing.

What I remember most is thinking: this is my face smashing into the concrete. Everything is going to be broken and shattered and I am in deep trouble.

Here’s the answer to the title question. I had no idea where the flip the handlebars on my bike were or where my hands were.

Shock is the first thing that happens. So I just lay there. I might have rolled over on to my back. I could taste blood. And everything hurt, especially my head. I felt my face and came away with a handful of red. Oddly my glasses were still on my face. That’s how I knew my helmet saved my brain and most of my face.

I hoped someone would come along the trail but didn’t have a lot of hope for it that early on a Saturday. Lo and behold a friend of mine rolls up and says, “Hi Kami, what are you doing down there?” Or something equally hilarious if you aren’t the one on the ground. “Stan?” I said. “Am I ever glad to see you!”

He did a quick assessment and pulled me up off the trail of ants I had landed in. (Surprisingly didn’t get bit!!!)  Brushed the ants off of me, got my bike out of the way and told me to sit tight while he rode back and got his truck to drive me and my bike home.

A couple minutes later another friend happened to jog by. When she was sure I had help on the way and was okay to be alone, she suggested I use the ice in my water bottle on my face to keep the swelling down.

Another friend called a mutual dentist friend later in the morning who came by my house and made sure I hadn’t really ruined any teeth even though they hurt a bunch.

Needless to say, I felt like a crew of angels had been dispatched after I learned my lesson to not be so cocky on my bike, be more careful of transitions, and make sure MSH can hear a phone ringing if I’m going out riding alone. Oh, and the lesson to always, always, always wear my helmet.

Everything hurts everywhere almost ten hours after my fall from Grace. (Isn’t that a cute name for my bike?) I feel way worse than I look, which isn’t saying much, I suppose. My knee feels swollen, I have bruises that I can’t explain.

Oh, and the bike is okay. Some scrapes on the right side of the bike even though I fell left. The handlebars must have turned completely around to face me. I’ll get her a nice tuneup at Global Bikes next week, just to make sure I didn’t do any permanent damage. I’m not going to be riding for a week or so, I’m guessing. But I’ll be back out there again, for sure.

For today at least, I’m sucking meals out of a straw and hanging out on the couch bingewatching stuff and alternating Ibuprofen and Tylenol and icing the knee and mouth.

I’m also counting my blessings that I can still walk, and talk and laugh about all this.

Biffing it just aint fun.

So hold on. Don’t hold on. Just stay safe while having fun.

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A Mother’s Day Gift from my Son and Daughter in Law. Perfect!

 

 

 

Categories: Biking, Exercise, Outdoors, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments
 
 

Friday Letter to My Kids: That Was Real In Tents

March 25, 2016

Dear J, J, L and L,

Sorry for the bad pun in the title. I couldn’t help myself. But this letter happens to discuss tents. One tent in particular.

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Very handy

Your father and I recently went camping. Yes, camping in March in Arizona. We got up in to the pines but not into any patches of snow. We’ve done that with L and L as I recall. That was the “Little Muddy Foot” and “Queen of the Flame” with snow patches around us trip. That was cold. Oh, and once with Aunt Ny, up American Fork Canyon in April. Brrrr.

I digress.

So, as I was saying,  your dad and I went camping. Instead of the two-man tent, which is pretty snug and requires crawling around and barely allows kneeling upright, we chose to bring the good ol’ six man tent. You remember that one, a big yellow and white dome with a gray rain fly. Yup, that tent. It’s big enough for standing up to get dressed and maneuvering around in. It’s a spacious and comfortable temporary abode for two people.

For six people, it’s a snug fit. Oh, but the warmth generated inside there is awesome on a cold camping night. We’ve had a few of those in that tent.

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Ponderosa Pines and sunshine!

If I put my brain to it I’m sure I could almost come close to remembering all the times we’ve put up that tent and slept in it. We’ve slid the poles through the sleeves on that tent in a bunch of states. Washington, California, Idaho, Utah, Arizona, New Mexico, Wyoming, (oddly, never Colorado) Oklahoma, Arkansas, Tennesee, and North Carolina. Let me know if you think I missed any.

I remember a Thanksgiving in North Carolina with raccoons visiting during the night. And two days of rain camping also in North Carolina a little too near a stream that rose a few feet. There’s the New Mexico fiasco as part of the camping our way across the country. Pitched our tent across the lake from a nuclear power plant in Arkansas, where I was sure I was gonna die but somehow didn’t. We’ll never forget rain camping with a grand mud fight in Oklahoma.

We’ve had some grand adventures in that tent. We’ve also experienced angst and anger, aggravation and sheer boredom in that tent. If that tent could talk, imagine the tales it would tell. We’ve owned that creative piece of engineering genius made from fabric since October 1989. That makes it 27 years old. That’s quite a long life for a tent.

How can I be so sure of the year and month? Your Dad called me from Oakland, California where he was working in a skyscraper on October 17, 1989 to tell me he was in an earthquake. We decided in the days following that disaster that we needed to be more prepared for whatever the world and life threw our way. Owning a tent and some camping equipment would make us a bit more self-reliant if we ever found ourselves evacuated or homeless for whatever odd reasons life comes at us with.

One of the best investments we ever made was that tent and those sleeping bags. I hope you agree.

IMG_5981A few years back the rainfly became a congealed mass of guck. I think it spent a month too long in the back of the truck on an extended road trip and the heat did a number on its chemistry. The manufacturer no longer made that tent or rainfly (imagine that after 27 years) so we didn’t haven a replacement.

On this most recent camping trip we jury-rigged a rainfly out of a blue tarp. We did that not for any rain in the forecast, but to keep the heat from escaping out the mesh panels at the top of the tent. It looked a little amateurish, but it served its purpose.

Breakage kind of defined this camping jaunt. Luckily no bones were broken. But one of our cots broke, which was inconvenient but not unbearable. And one of the camp chairs collapsed while your dad was sitting in it. That was inconvenient. (I knew we should have thrown in an extra one.) And then after nightfall a zipper broke on one of the tent doors. As a quick and dirty fix we simply duct taped it shut. (Red Green would be proud.) But by morning the wind had kicked up and the duct tape didn’t hold things together in all that swaying. I woke up to a cold breeze blowing through the tent.

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My sewing job included a needle poke and blood.

We debated what to do about that, since we wanted to stay another night. I dug through my backpacking pack and found a sewing kit and guess what? I sewed that broken zipper opening shut! Was that clever or what? I was pleased with myself. Luckily that tent has two doors, so we simply used the other one.

Between the rainfly and the tent door we got the hint that it’s time to retire the old reliable family tent. I knew you’d be broken hearted to hear this. Or at least semi-interested. So I thought I’d let you know about it before we give it a fitting farewell. It almost feels like we ought to be respectful and burn it, but I don’t know if I could watch that happen. Saying goodbye is a tough thing.

Of course, we need to buy a replacement tent before we do that. I’d like a four-man tent that you can still stand up in, at least in the middle of it. I think we’re past the backpacking stage, but you know your dad will want to camp in all four seasons, so it’ll need to be a rugged piece of equipment.

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These Flutterbys were everywhere!

I have so many happy memories that revolve around that tent. We had some great times camping, didn’t we? I’d love to hear about some of your favorites sometime. To me, they were all epic and made us the family that we are.

Even though three of you are out of state this Easter, and I’ll miss coloring eggs and putting olives on our fingers during Easter dinner, I’ve been feeling a strong connection to you this week, thanks to that old yellow tent.

Thank you for always being willing to go along on those outings, and for being part of the joy of the outdoors that’s such an integral part of who I am. Here’s hoping that a love of nature and camping has woven itself affectionately around your genes as well.

Love you each beyond expression,

Mom

~~~~~

“My tent doesn’t look like much but, as an estate agent might say, “It is air-conditioned and has exceptional location.” ~ Fennel Hudson

 

Categories: Friday Letter to My Kids, Friday Letters, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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