Monday, January 28, 2013

Snow Fort!

The kids have the day off from school. At our very late breakfast we brainstormed on what to do on their day off. Go to the mall, watch movies and play Minecraft were high on the list. And while we considered each idea we did something far better - we went outside and played in the snow.

Early stages of snow fort building. Even Rocket is helping out.
The kids decided to build a snow fort. We found three plastic storage boxes to use as snow block forms and the kids headed outside with great plans for their fort. Owen is working from home today so he and I headed out for a quick fat bike ride in the slushy snow. By the time we got back the kids had a good start on their fort. Then I joined in and helped Ryan with snow block production while Rose kept working on building. We worked outside for almost two hours before heading in for a late lunch.

The snow fort is getting bigger!
Getting outside in the fresh air and snow has been a great cure to the stir crazies and a great way to get creative learn some stuff, too. The snow fort building process got us talking about architecture, building materials, assembly lines, and estimating for materials. But mostly the snow fort building process got us all outside having some fun together.

The kids headed back outside to work on their fort. Owen just came up to my office to tell me that Ryan came inside with this message, "the snow fort building is going too slow without Mom."

So I guess it's time to head back outside and have some fun.
Catch you later. There's a snow fort to build!

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Fresh Snow - Ice Below

We had a nice dusting of beautiful snow last night and at a balmy 10 degrees F this morning (compared to the 1degree we had last night) I couldn't wait to get out and ride my Salsa Beargrease, Bear.

I took Rocket, my dog, with me for just over a 2 mile ride/run. He loves it when I take him out biking. We've figured out how to work together so he runs far enough away to stay out of my way and he's responsive enough that he comes when I whistle when he gets too far. The only frustration is I have to take off my glove in order to give him a treat when he comes when called. Oh well, I want to give him positive reinforcement so it's worth having my hand get cold for a few seconds.
The fresh snow was so nice to bike on today. We had just a dusting of light fluffy stuff. And guess what? There's ice hiding underneath some of that white fluffy stuff! I discovered there were slippery patches within moments of setting out on my ride so I should have been more careful. But then I biked over this nice white spot at a pretty good clip (imagine that, me going too fast!), realized I was on ice more suitable for ice skating than fat biking, and I was down in an instant.

Apparently I am skilled at falling over well. I've really only fallen over on a bike once (that was a clipless pedal incident on my road bike. Doh!) so it's not like I have a lot of practice in falling well. But so far I've managing to just fall over and not break my fall or brace myself by, say, sticking my arm out to try to stop myself. That's good! I mean, it's not good that I fell over but it's good that I manage to fall over and not get hurt. Well, my knee hurts a little but it appears that it came in contact with my bike and not the ice. Good news is that on the rest of my ride I avoided ice for the most part and when I found I was on it I was able to ride through the skids. Yay me!
Yee Haw! Slippery ice.
Bear did not land where he is. I set him there on my return so I could take a picture of where I fell. 

Anyway, so I'm a bit sore. Oh well. Even with a fall and a blustery wind I had a great ride. My dog is happy to get a 2 mile run. I'm happy to get some exercise and fresh air plus I'm logging bike miles in January which is just cool all by itself! And my miles all count towards a bike milage challenge I'm doing with a friend of mine who lives in Washington state. More on that later!

Enjoy the day!

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Cold Ride

It's 1 degree Fahrenheit outside with a -10 F windchill but I've been itching to ride my fat bike, Bear. So I did. I wasn't cold. I had fun. I will do it again.

Here's the scoop on what I wore (because I always wondered what people wear when they bicycle in the cold - and I figured you might be wondering, too):

  • two pair wool socks
  • wool vest and a fleece
  • snow pants
  • winter coat
  • neck gaiter
  • balaclava
  • helmet
  • lobster gloves
  • oh, I had clothes on, too, just normal clothes, not workout clothes
  • moisture-wicking workout clothes (ie: wool or those fancy synthetics or something) would have been a better choice

I was overdressed except for my knees, they got a little cold. The rest of me, even my face, stayed warm, or warm enough.

I rode Bear (that's the name for my Salsa Beargrease) over leftover snowbanks because going over them was way more fun than riding the flat, frozen grass. It's winter after all. Where's the snow?

My only regret is that I didn't ride longer. I was out for 15 minutes and went 1.65 miles - I wanted to ride 2 miles but wasn't about to pull out my iPhone to see how far I'd gone so I quit when I thought I hit 2 miles. I was short. Well, I am short - I should have said I was short on my milage goal. I guess I'm just doubly short. Anyway - you get the idea.

The ride was surprisingly fun! And, yes, it's possible that I might be just a little bit crazy.

But I really don't care.
Post ride happiness - all bundled up.
And no, I did not fall off. I'm sitting next to Bear so I could take a picture of me with my bike - because I like it.
 Owen's bike is behind mine. And so is a workbench.

Warm Fuzzy

It's cold here in Minnesota! We're being treated to below zero temperatures and we have almost no snow. In my mind cold and no snow is not a good combination. If it's going to be cold I figure we might as well have snow on the ground so I can snowshoe or ride my fat bike in the snow. But hey, the weather gods are not listening to me (so I think I will just bundle up tonight and ride my fat bike anyway - Why not?).

To help offset the cold - I bring you a picture of something warm and fuzzy to make you feel better.
Meet George Lucas, Rose's new guinea pig. He's warm and fuzzy. George's coat, unlike the hair of any guinea pig I've ever met (and I've met, oh, hundreds - we raised them when I was a kid) is more wiry in texture than smooth and feels much like our dog Rocket's coat (Rocket is a Border Terrier).

George, aka Georgie, came to us last week. Rose named him George because he was curious, like Curious George, and added Lucas because she's a Star Wars fan. We adopted George from a pet store along with all of his guinea pig gear - adoption is a pretty good deal!  George is  just over a year old, the adoption people said, and he was turned in for adoption about a month ago so it was time for him to go to a new home. We weren't really planning to get a guinea pig - but, well, we did.

And we're glad we did! Welcome to the Mibus Family, George Lucas. May the Force be with you, and all of us, as we embark on this guinea pig journey together.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Berlioz, Baudelaire, Bicycling & Bob

I've been a bit out of sorts since last Monday January 7th, when I checked my email and discovered that my friend, Bob Jackson, passed away on January 3rd. His funeral took place earlier today in the town of Brentwood in Essex, England. 

I met Bob and his wife, Pam, on January 7th, 1996 when I arrived at their house to stay for two weeks as part of a January Term "English School and Family" class I took through University of St. Thomas. During this time I and another St. Thomas student lived with the Jacksons and went to school each day with Bob at Brentwood School where Bob taught French.

From L to R: Me, Heather (who also stayed with Bob & Pam) Bob and Pam

There is a lot I want to write here but I can't make anything sound right - a lot of processing I'm doing on paper and in my head about what matters in life. There's sadness about Bob's death. There's anger that Bob died so young -  he was only 76 and had been in fine form. There's fear about death in general, specifically when it involves parent-type people. And anger that Bob died before I got back to England to see him again - we were saving our money and planned to go to England next year. If only I would have known next year was going to be too late...

All this processing isn't making a whole lot of sense to me and certainly won't make sense to you...maybe some day I'll write something about Bob that makes sense, that puts my thoughts in order, assuming I can get my thoughts in order about this...anyway, I'll spare you from more processing and just tell you about Bob.

Bob was extraordinary.
Bob introduced me to Berlioz's music and Baudelaire's poetry. He was the first person I knew of who bicycled to work. He brought Pam a cup of tea in the morning, enjoyed listening to classical music while he graded papers in the evening and wrote to me each Christmas. He and Pam were house parents at Brentwood School for many years and kept in touch with the students who used to live with them. He translated French poetry and fiction for fun and published two books of his translations (I have signed copies of both). He was active, kind, dedicated to teaching and loved his family.

Bob made an incredible difference in the lives of hundreds of people. 

I am one of them.

I was blessed to know Bob. So incredibly lucky and blessed that Bob was part of my life and that his memory and all he taught me continues to touch my life. 

I am sad and I am out of words that make sense other than these - Thank you, Bob. Rest in Peace.

Bob's translations of Les Fleurs du Mal by Baudelaire and En Rade & Un Dilmeme by Huysmans