I might have an illness

I was headed out to tackle some more of my untamed garden (the strawberries are strong with this one), and as I passed through my garage, I looked up at Surly bike on the bike tree and thought, “Maybe I should go for a bike ride.”  Which was quickly followed up with, “WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU?!”  I dug up a bunch of things instead.

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Bun in the sun

I did not know how much Uther bun liked sunbathing until we moved.  He loves, more than anything, to station himself in front of the patio doors where he can look out into the yard, and sleep in the sun.  He is dozing right now, propped up against some rolled up towels that I left for him.  Bunny bolsters.  Maybe I should sell them.  He spent a lot of time in our old place inside of a large box, where he felt very safe and secure.  Perhaps his bad experiences there made him reconsider?  You’d think he’d become more hidey rather than less…  Sweet little prey animal.  May you make a multitude of droppings while I am at the grocery store.  (Direct quote from the Rabbit Prayer Book)

What else has changed?

CSEC asked this of me a few weeks ago…

I have processed All the Things!  And moved on.  To NEW things.  12 years ago I was co-managing a book store and working part-time at a library and thinking that people don’t know how to research anything, because they come to the bookstore to find information and say that their librarians are SCARY.  I decide to become one of the not-scary variety (I think I have mostly achieved this).  I have no idea, no inclination at ALL that I will spend so much time with teenagers.  But this kind of suits me, since I’m somehow still a teenager myself in a lot of ways.  All those John Hughes moves, I suppose.  I received confirmation of this not too long ago, when I told one of those teenagers that this was the last year of my 30-teens, and he said, “Well, you don’t seem *that* old – you really relate well to young people.”  Heh.  Or maybe *he* really relates well to OLD people.

I had different bunnies.

I lived (for a couple years) with my folks.  And hung out with my brother like we were best friends – we used to call each other at work and chat and make plans to do things.  And was a vegetarian – until the cheeseburgers lured me back to the dark side.

I did my first long bike ride – 20 miles – with a guy I met on OKC, who said, “I didn’t think we’d go this far.”  And I’m STILL not sure if that was a comment about my cycling abilities or what.  He was a grad student and studied people’s sleep patterns and the effects of melatonin on sleep (which made me extremely nervous while we were talking, because the words melatonin and melanin are so close, and I was worried I’d use the wrong one and appear to be unintelligent). We never hung out again.  But even HE taught me something: bar cookies are incredibly easy to make and should accompany one on bike outings.

Too many cookies (too much sugar?) make me break out.  Like a teenager.

I met a lot of new people and then lost them.  I reconnected with a lot of old friends, too.  Some of these relationships I’ve sustained, and others have gone back into quiescence.  I find that I am more comfortable in my own company most of the time (or, my own company with a couple of rabbits at my side).  I have tried to open up my life to the people who have become special to me – some with more success than others.  We are all busy and distracted and caught up in our own stuff – the good and the bad.  I wish sometimes that some people were more accessible, but realize, too, that I probably would not see them any more than I already do, because it’s simply not convenient no matter HOW close you are in proximity to one another.  If you don’t work or live with someone everything has to be scheduled.

Art!  Creative projects!  Bees!

I am older.  Sometimes I am wiser.  Often, I am just crankier and creakier.  I may not know everything, but I can look up most things.

Still in the process of acquiring more useful skills.  Home improvement projects will probably further this endeavor some.  Actually, I think I will always be in the process/business of learning new things.  It’s one reason why the librarianing thing works so well for me.

What about you?

One Million Miles

Ok, it was only 100.  Only.

I rode in the Apple Cider Century yesterday.  It’s a biking event (as opposed to a race), with upwards of 5000 registrants every year.  This is the 40th year of its existence, and it’s quite a tradition for some cyclists (their website says it is the most popular century event in the Midwest).  They have a number of different routes you can take from 15 to 100 miles (with a bunch of options in between).  One of the nice things about it is that you pretty much start whenever you want – though, if you’re doing a longer ride, it’s recommended that you start EARLY, so that you finish before rest stops close and they stop serving the spaghetti dinner you get at the finish. Since people arrive at all times and use different routes, none of them is ever crowded to the point where it’s annoying.  This all takes place in and around Three Oaks, MI, which is a lovely area with farms and views of Lake Michigan.  I think this is the first time one of my routes has taken me through New Buffalo (right on the lake), and biking through town was fun.

A friend of mine and I had agreed to do the FULL century (as opposed to the metric century, which we did last year).  We’ve never actually done this ride together – as in alongside, let’s ride together together.  We get there and text each other a lot at the rest stops about our progress and what we’ve seen along the way.  This year I saw a lot of horses and alpacas (or possibly llamas, since I can’t really tell the difference).  There was a whole farm specializing in Belgian horses (they’re a big drafty sort).  Lots of woolly bear caterpillars, too.  And a husky that was rolling in something (probably disgusting) at the side of the road with all of his legs in the air and an expression of pure bliss on his face.

It takes a long time to ride 100 miles, and Three Oaks is a couple hours away, AND they’re in the Eastern time zone (you lose an hour in that direction), so I had to get up early…  What’s early?  I thought I’d try to leave at 4am.  Then I realized that I really needed to be up before that to do a few things (like put my bike on my car) before I left, and I should probably give myself another half an hour for those things.  Ok, 3:30.  But, maybe, countered my feverish brain, maybe you’ll need MORE time.  FINE, brain.  We’ll get up at 3:00.

My first mistake was getting the coffee ice cream with the fudge swirl and chocolate chunks the afternoon before – which was delicious, but which kept me up waaaay past my bedtime.  That and the excitement – “I get to ride my bike, I get to ride my bike!!!”  I didn’t sleep particularly well.  Plus, I don’t have the knack for falling asleep whenever I want/need to.  And, so, I was wide awake past 11pm.  I tossed and turned after that, and finally, got a text at 2:30 and figured, eh, it’s almost 3 anyway, and got up.

I got into Three Oaks by about 6 (7, their time), and got some rock star parking (I’ve never gotten there quite so early before).  It was way too dark to ride, though, and I hadn’t put any lights on my bike, so I had to wait about 20 minutes for the sun to start to come up.  But it was beautiful – biking through mist and watching the colors slowly appear in the sky.  Some man was behind me for the first few miles – like right on my tail behind me – and that was a little irritating, but eventually he decided I was too slow, and passed me up.  I made good time to the first rest stop.

Oberon got to be my timekeeper – mostly because it was easier to text him my distances and times along the way.  I didn’t use my biking app, because it’s a battery drain and I figured I’d be biking for HOURS, and might need the juice for other things.  Here’s what I sent him:

Start to Spicer rest area: 15.0 miles, started 6:14, finished 7:20 (13.6 mph)
Spicer to Soni rest area: 20.9 miles, started 7:30, finished 9:05 (13.2 mph)
Soni to La Lumiere rest area: 21.4 miles, started 9:32, finished 11:22 (11.7 mph)
La Lumiere to New Buffalo rest area: 13.0 miles, started 11:50, finished 12:48 (13.4 mph)
New Buffalo to Lake rest area: 19.0 miles, started 1:19, finished 2:50 (12.5 mph)
Lake to Finish: 14.5 miles, started 3:25, finished 4:32 (13.0 mph)

I DID bike for hours.  I was (on and off) my bike for 10 hours.  That’s a lot of biking.

Because I’ve had troubles with leg and toe cramps in the past (and knee pain, etc.) from overdoing things (whaaaaat??), I took longer breaks this year, and went through this whole stretching routine at each stop.  As insurance, because, hey, you never know, I brought along (and consumed at each stop) some packets of mustard which is supposed to help with cramps (some people on the Internets SWEAR this to be true – and you know those people never lie).  Whatever.  Some strategy worked.  By the end I was sore and didn’t really want to ride anymore (especially not up any more hills), but I didn’t have any major complaints.  (Minor complaints were a slightly cranky Achilles’ tendon – left side – aching need for a shower – had to wait a few more hours to make that happen – and an uncomfortable seat – but not to the point of thoughts of bottom replacement surgery).

My pace was pretty good and right on spot for me.  I am SO SLOW compared to those crazy club riders who dress alike and fly up hills like they are nothing.  NOTHING.  I was passed by a bunch of those.  But, I find I like being passed better than I like having to pass other people – on hills, especially – who are slower than me.  Plus, they call out funny things when they go by sometimes.  Like, “Hey, Miss Surly!”  (I have a Surly bike, not usually a surly expression when I am riding it.)  I am not such a bike enthusiast or snob to know All the Things About Cycling, but there are usually a few people on rides like these who are curious about my Surly Long Haul Trucker (yep, that’s its name), and want to ask me questions about it. This can be slightly embarrassing because there’s some kind of assumption being made that I know what I’m talking about when I talk about this bike.  I like it.  But compared to what?  My only other bikes are my Mt. bike (a Fuji something or other that’s now 10+ years old) and a 5-speed Schwinn (World Tourist, I think it was) that I had when I was a kid.  It has a nice ride.  The frame is sturdy, and I don’t feel a lot of noise on it (the ride is very smooth even though there’s no suspension).  I found myself tempted to talk about bike geometry with this one guy, but that would have been treading into Modern Jackass territory, in that I know something about it, but have no idea how to fit ME to a bike.  Surly is a bit tall for me and I probably should have sized down when I realized that, but overall I’m very happy with it.

So, what does 100 miles feel like?  It hurts a little bit.  And trying to do it on 2 hours (maybe) of sleep is kind of insane.  I am somewhat consoled by the fact that all those bike club people looked pretty tired afterwards (the ones who were still around when I FINALLY finished), too.  Or maybe those were the 25, 37, 50 milers?  Everyone was tired.  But in a good way.  When I was leaving New Buffalo, I really wanted to be done.  Right then.  But there were still 19 and then 14.5 miles to go.  I told myself that if I could do the 19, I would be fine.  Never tell yourself you still have 30some miles to go when all you really want to do is sleep.  19 sounded a little tough.  14.5 sounded like nothing.  Together they are/were possibly achievable.

JM texted me this morning to see if I’d survived, if I’d conquered my first century (my first! maybe my last!), and – most importantly, if I’d won.  To answer his question – yes, I did win (except that this isn’t a thing where you *can* win, JM).  But only because my riding partner dropped out.  Her back tire wasn’t true and kept rubbing up against/knocking into her back brakes.  Added resistance training?  Then she had a bout of food poisoning or illness/over-exertion and felt just awful.  With the bike issues she was having she considered cutting back to 62 miles.  Then, once the nausea set in, she tried to head back to start post haste.  The short cut she chose, however, added another 25 miles (ack) and she ended up doing 56, which is pretty respectable under any conditions.

The worst part was having to drive home, because after my pasta dinner, all I really wanted to do was curl up somewhere warm and sleep (ok, after the shower, but if no shower available, sleep = ok substitute activity).  The audiobooks I had with me ended up being BAD choices, and my music was…somewhere?  In a bag, way back there out of reach.  So, I chewed a lot of gum and yodeled and moaned, and cursed traffic, and beat on my thighs with my fists to keep myself alert.  And once my GPS finally figured out where I was, it kept telling me to go in directions that I wasn’t sure would actually get me home EVER.

I stepped in the door to a very triumphant bunny who said, “LOOK WHAT I MADE FOR YOU!” and I did gaze upon his many, MANY presents with something akin to awe.  And horror.  But mostly awe.  Thanks, ever so much, Bun.  You are So.Thoughtful.

Will I ever ride another century?  Yesterday I said, “No, definitely not.  I have done it once.”  But I have a feeling that this is sort of like summer camp – where you complain a lot while you are there about certain injustices and deprivations, but the weeks and months pass and by the time summer rolls around again, you are READY for it, eager for it, chomping at the bit.

My fish are dead

My folks were so happy the other day when they told me they’d bought some goldfish to add to the tank I’ve had set up at their house since high school.  They recently decided to embrace their status as fish owners and own some fish they could “actually see.”  Back in the day, I collected aggressive, bitchy fish that chased each other around the tank, or hid from the other fish who were trying to chase them around the tank.  They established little territories every time I moved their rocks around, and they defended them.  I adored my loaches (botias).  My parents?  Not so much.  I intended at some point to move the fish in with me.  But I went to college out of state (and it would have been inconvenient to move the fish around so much), and then I moved out to the east coast (also inconvenient), and then I was back at home for awhile, so it wasn’t a problem – I was Head of Tank Maintenance.  But after that, there was grad school and various jobs and apartments and I just never got around to it.  A couple years ago I offered to find my fish new homes, because my parents already have a Very Needy Beagle, and I didn’t think that it was fair for them to have to keep up with the fish as well.  Plus, they didn’t really appreciate them.  There were 2 loaches remaining – one Striata botia and one Lohachata (I believe both of these species have been renamed since I started keeping them).  There was also one large Plecostomus (which WP thinks should be “Pentecostals), who’d been hired/purchased to keep the algae from taking over.  It didn’t have the best work ethic.  I was sort of surprised when my mom said that they’d like to keep their grandfish.  They’d never been attached to them before – not even when I showed them how you could play hide and seek with the more aggressive ones, who could be coaxed out of hiding to investigate movements outside of the tank.  They also taught their beagle this game.  He likes to jump up and look at the fish.  Hm.  Now that I think about it, maybe the DOG is the reason they decided to buy more fish.  They’d do anything for that dog.

It’s been a long time since I worked at the aquarium, but I remembered something about not mixing tropical fish with goldfish.  A lot of goldfish – the feeder ones, anyway – have diseases, and they prefer a colder tank than tropical fish.  Some people mix them anyway and have no problems.  We were not so lucky.  I was tempted to say something about this when they told me about their new acquisitions, but I was also touched that they’d decided to do something with the tank.  And my dad was so happy.  So…

I figured the goldfish would probably die.  Because pet store goldfish are not usually known for their longevity.  Also, because the loaches are aggressive.  But instead, mom emailed me messages from my fish this evening – from Toledo.  [If you didn’t know this already, all deceased pets go to Toledo.  It’s the pet afterlife.  I decided that back in middle school or something.  No, I don’t know why Toledo.  Why not?]  Spot and Stripe (the names my mom picked for them) went to Toledo today.  Poor guys.  They were really old.  Probably the stress of new tank mates was too much.  Possibly the new fish made them sick (either by passing along some fish borne pathogen or just by adding twice as much waste to the system).  And I feel terribly sad about all of it.  I was not a very good fish mom, or I’d have taken them with me.  I’m so sorry, loaches.  May you happily snipe at one another in the Toledean waters.

Number Three

3. You know how I said everything is harder than you think it will be?  I meant it.  Everything.  I’ve been trying to get the internets at my new place since I moved in.  My original installation date was supposed to have been September 3rd, but for some reason, I couldn’t get a signal.  I could talk to the modem all I wanted to, but it was all, “Blah, blah, blah, Ginger, I have nothing to say to you.”  I tried connecting from every jack in my house.  And there are a lot of them.  Like one in every room.  So this took awhile.  And then I went downstairs and examined the phone wiring there.  And it scared me.  That can’t be right.  What did those people (who lived here before me) DO?  And then I went outside and looked at the box on the outside of the house and was slightly comforted.  Ok, if there’s a box outside, then it’s at least somewhat possible the mess in the basement isn’t something I have to worry about.  I tried connecting directly from the box.  No DSL.  Meh.

Obviously, the whole self-install process wasn’t going to be as smooth as I’d hoped.  Since I reeeeeally didn’t want to call AT&T, I tried chatting with an agent online when I was on break at work.  Parker looked into my situation and said that my order was “stuck.”  I didn’t know what that meant, but he said he’d worked it out with the sales department and my service should now activate on September 10th.  That was only a few days away and I had plenty of other things to occupy my time/mind.  Plus, ok, I can use my phone if I need to check something online.  (Of course, I ate through my fast data in no time at all, and was stuck at something resembling dial-up speeds, which just meant I’d do a Google search and then read my book for 10 minutes, then look back to see if anything had loaded.)  Not too inconvenient.

I tried connecting on the 10th.  Nope.  The 11th?  Sorry.  By that time, AT&T had emailed me the number for a special DSL service center they’ve set up (for people just like me!), so I called that on Saturday.  I was connected to someone right away (hooray!).  I think I talked to Gloria.  She asked me a bunch of questions about what I’d tried – all of which I had anticipated – and determined that I was going to need a technician on site to determine what the problem was.  According to the tests she had run and my account information, the line was fine and my service was live.  My technician (I believe his name began with an R.) was dispatched on Sunday (wait, they work on Sundays??) and when I explained about not being able to connect even from the box outside, he went out there first to check on that.  He had some lovely testing gadgets and determined that there was definitely something weird going on with my line.  After driving around the neighborhood to find/examine the central hookup he discovered that my house was experiencing some kind of identity crisis.  The line was live, but was connected to a completely different address – one that was 2 blocks away.  So, while AT&T had started the service for the right address, it was connected to the wrong house.  Or something.  I looked at his display and marveled.  And laughed.  Seriously?

He couldn’t fix that.  He said, “I put in an order for another tech to look at it.”  At this point I was sort of wondering if I’d ever have the internets, and I said, “So, when will that happen?”  I figured he’d say, “Oh, next week sometime.”  But he didn’t.  “This afternoon, probably.  Maybe tomorrow at the latest – depending on how many guys are working and what they have scheduled.  You don’t have to wait around.  All the work they have to do is outside.  Just leave your modem plugged in and you’ll know you can get online when the green light comes on.”  Ok, then.

Tech #2 arrived maybe 45 minutes later and wandered around behind my house and over by the central hookup (which is at the corner of my yard between several houses – ComEd was playing over there, too, recently).  I thought he was going to ignore me completely, but he stopped by my back patio door on his way out and said that everything should be fixed.  I looked at the modem and, yes, All Lights GO!  Glee.

That’s one thing I can check off the list.

Addendum: The good and the terrible thing about service calls is that whole 4-hour window thing, where you have to wait around for someone to show up, and no, they can’t get any more specific than that at the time you’re setting it up.  That worked out in my favor – I got up early, planned on being around, and managed to get a bunch of things organized, put away, and cleaned while I was waiting.  I’d say that time was well spent!

Addendum 2: This is really the best interaction with AT&T that I have ever had.  No one tried to upsell me anything, everyone was extremely polite and helpful, and my problems were resolved within a reasonable amount of time.  I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to erase that dread I feel every time I have to call some company for help, but this experience definitely helps me feel better about their customer service.

* * *

This is a big reason (besides having a lot of other things occupying my attention) why I’ve been silent.  There’s no way I’d have typed all of this out on my phone – especially when there’s a good chance I’d lose the entire post!

Also, also, I haven’t even bothered to set up my desktop computer.  The room I’m planning to put it in needs to be cleaned, and I gave away my computer desk because I’m planning on using something else…  And I keep wondering if maybe I should just paint that room before I bother to put anything where I want it to be.  You see how it goes.  It’s one step forward and then about seventeen in circles before I just fall over dizzy with the amount of work that needs to happen before I can do one simple thing.