Thursday, April 28, 2011

Riding and Writing

The weather has not been good for riding my bike lately but I have been out riding every day for 30 Days of Biking. Only three days left. Hard to believe! After days of rain finally tonight the sun came out and Owen and I headed out on our road bikes for a quick 5.25 mile ride at almost a 13 mph pace. It felt great to get out and ride with some speed - at last! Quite a change from riding on the gravel in the rain.

Shadows - proving the sun was out today

The weather has been good for writing, however. And I've been doing a lot of writing in the last few weeks. And editing. Lots of editing. In the last two weeks I've been working on a travel piece for the Star Tribune. This story, on the town of Cannon Falls, will be my second for the Star Tribune. It's due out on Sunday. Look for it!

The Oxford Mill Ruins - near Cannon Falls

It was great fun checking out the sites in Cannon Falls, talking to people who work at various business, learning about the town's history. Writing the story was fun, too, and it went together well. Still, it was a challenge deciding what to include and what to cut to make my word count.

But, the nice thing about working with my editor at the Star Tribune, her name is Kathleen, is that I know that she's a good editor and will let me know if what I turned in isn't quite what she needs.

And that's what happened. Kathleen read my story and sent me an email asking for some more information on a few things.  So I got back to my notes, my computer and my phone and found her the answers. Then I sent her more information and several rewritten bits. And though the editing process took quite a bit of time and I was a little frustrated wishing I could have gotten the story "just right" the first time, in the end the story is far better than what I first sent in. I'm happy with the edited story and will be extra proud to have my name on the byline.

I kind of feel that there should be a byline under mine stating "carefully edited and improved by Kathleen" but I guess that's not the way things work.

There's so much to learn about writing. I hope I am a good student :-)

Speaking of writing, I had two stories published in April. "Street Smart," a story on Bob Hedstrom, an aficionado of a two-wheeled, motorized scooters and the owner of Scooterville, is in Minnesota Good Age. The other is a somewhat humorous essay about gardening - Super Gardening Woman!, which was published in Womeninc. (I hope to get a pdf of that story up on my website soon)

And back to the topic of editing, Super Gardening Woman, which runs about 1,200 words, was also published in the Autumn 2010 issue of Green Prints as "The 15-Minute Gardener." Length of the story in that publication? About 300 words. And the story, though short and way different, was edited well and reads well.

Go figure. There's so much for me to learn about editing. About writing. About life. Even about biking. So here I am, sitting in the front row, ready to learn. 

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Loving the Team Loving the Bike

It's Day 21 of #30daysofbiking and, despite the crazy Minnesota weather, I don't think I'll have any trouble finishing my third round of 30 Days of Biking.

I certainly am not logging many miles this time around but I am, save for one day when I rode a stationary bike on vacation, getting outside every day and riding a bike.

That means that when it snowed last week I was out on my bike. And when it rained yesterday I was out on my bike. And today, even though I'm kind of grumpy, I'll get out on my bike. Why? It would be easy to quit and think that no one is paying attention to whether I ride or not. But people DO notice if I don't ride.

Gravel road I rode on yesterday's ride.

Because I'm part of a the 30 Days of Biking community of people.
And for this round of 30 Days of Biking I am also part of a team - Team Loving the Bike.

Darryl of Loving the Bike created a challenge with a group of bicyclists at Bicycle Radio. The deal is team members rack up points for riding each day, for posting a picture from their rides on the team's Facebook page and for riding a bike when they could have driven. It's not a competition of speed or miles - rather it's more a competition based on the dedication to ride every day.

And Darryl asked me to be a part of Team Loving the Bike.
Our team has members from the US, Canada, the UK and Australia.
And I'm one of them!

In gym class in grade school I was picked last or near last for teams. When I played softball in 8th grade people groaned when the ball was hit in my direction because I usually dropped it. The other team pretty much cheered when I got up to bat, I was an "easy out." Team sports were never my thing - so getting asked special to be a part of this team, many of whom are pretty hard-core athletes, made me feel pretty darn good.

I thought about this, about being a part of a team, while I was riding my bike in the rain yesterday. I rode on wet gravel which was pretty tough. But I rode, and pushed myself to ride terrain I'm not comfortable on because of 30 Days of Biking and because I'm part of Team Loving the Bike. Because the points I earn for Team Loving the Bike for riding every day count.

Because what I do counts.
Because I count.
Which, at times, is kind of hard for me to come to terms with - but there it is.
I count.
Cool.

And I'm in a very cool Team Loving the Bike video created by one of our team members, Aaron the Strong. Watch it. It will make you smile :)

30 Days of Biking The Loving the Bike Spectacular from Aaron Madrid on Vimeo.


I'm Loving the Team! I'm Loving the Bike!

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Island Time

Even though I loved the surf and the sun of Anna Maria Island the thing I'm missing the most, I think, is Island Time. Yep, time just didn't seem to matter much while we were there.

What's Island Time? It's more a feeling than a thing. It's all about forgetting about time and trying to get places. It's about forgetting you have a cell phone or clock. Its, well, a lot of things and probably something different for everyone. Perhaps I can explain what it is to me, at least somewhat, in pictures.

Island Time = Single speed bikes and pedaling slowly around town. 90% of the bikes I saw on Anna Maria Island were single speed bikes. I only saw two road bikes and rarely saw anyone pedal faster than 10 mph. I liked wandering around on my rental bike. I liked getting lost. I liked moving slowly. It was relaxing. It was fun.

Island Time = Reading Time (or DS Time, in Ryan's case). Sitting Still Time. It stormed the first full day of our vacation. And while the rain was a bummer it also forced us to sit still awhile. To be instead of do.

Island Time = Family time. Game time. Together time. We listened to music. We ate together. Owen played card games with the kids.

Island Time = Trolley time. No need for a car on the island, there was a free trolley to take us around town. Sure we had to wait for it but since we weren't worried about being anywhere on time it didn't really matter what time the trolley arrived. If I lived on Anna Maria, I would hardly use a car - between a bike and the trolley I'd be set! (oh, and with all the walking, biking, and beach time I'd be in awesome shape!!!)

Island Time = Beach Time. And Family Time. And long walks in the morning. And Rose and I catching perfect waves on our rented boogie boards (and, in my case, crashing brilliantly a few times!). We looked for shells. We played in the sand. We didn't sleep in too late because the beach called to us each morning. We slept well at night because the outdoor activity had us tired and ready for bed.

So how can I bring Island Time to my life now?  I don't have a beach at home nor do I have a trolley. Riding a single speed bike 15 miles into town to do errands isn't practical. I'm still playing catch up on my writing work that accumulated while I was gone. And there's laundry. And a house to clean. And food to make and....well, a whole lot of stuff to do. Island Time like I enjoyed it on Anna Maria Island isn't really possible in Webster, Minnesota.

But maybe I can incorporate some elements of Island Time in my life. I can start by ignoring my cell phone more often. I don't have to have it with me, nor do I need to check email on it when I'm on the go. I can allow myself some time to sit still and read. I can spend more time "being" with my family than "doing" with my family. I can slow down. Garden more. Work less. Listen to the kids tell me stories because, before you know it, they'll be grown up and gone from home.

And I can do what I did tonight. Feeling somewhat frazzled with family matters and things to do, I jumped on my bike and pedaled around my neighborhood. Just two miles. Just twelve minutes. Just enough time for a mini escape from the day. I'm not on an island nor is it likely I will be again for quite some time -  but I feel a whole lot better now.