Showing posts from 2014

A Feature in Piper Flyer

I found a surprise in my mail today - a big envelope containing two copies of Piper Flyer magazine featuring a story I wrote right there on the magazine's cover and in the center spread. I had seen a PDF of the story already and found the story online but there's something extra special about seeing a story you wrote in actual print. It was so much fun to see the story title on the cover then open the magazine to the center and find my story there. Wowza! Now that's exciting!
The story Airshow Entertainer: Lowell White's Vagabond - A Piper Vagabond Finds Its Way Home is about an airplane that is based near my home here in Minnesota. I first saw the airplane when it landed here at SkyHarbor one day last summer - it's absolutely beautiful! I heard the plane had a cool history and was winning awards and I knew I just had to talk to the owner, Vaughn, and write something about his little airplane. I interviewed Vaughn with plans to do a quick QandA feature on the plane…

Biking in the Fall

I've been off the bike for a few weeks (largely due to being pretty down and out with a cold for three weeks) but got out my Salsa Vaya this morning and headed out for a short ride on both gravel and tar roads near my home.

It was a lovely day. The fall colors are a little past peak around my home but still quite lovely. I stopped several times on my ride to take pictures of the pretty trees. I did this because I wanted to capture all of the beauty of nature - and because I am pretty out of shape and figured that taking pictures was a good cover for the fact that I actually felt the need to stop a few times and rest.

I'm glad I'm feeling well enough to be back out on my bike and am looking forward to getting out some more in the days to come.

Get out and enjoy the beauty of the fall season!

Habit of Writing

I have not been in the habit of writing for quite some time but a couple of weeks ago I created a writing schedule to help me get back in the habit. I drew it out on a big piece of paper - it shows my work hours (I work four mornings a week as an educational assistant with special-ed preschool children) as well as my evening commitments. After work and my evening things, I don't have a ton of time left for writing but I managed to block out three to four afternoons per week to write. The schedule needs to be pretty fluid as I didn't allocate any time to do things like eat, do laundry or exercise. Those tasks of daily living can sure take up a lot of time but my hope is that I still keep my afternoons more or less free for writing.
So far, I've managed to stick to my writing schedule pretty well. I used to have the tendency to go back to sleep after getting the kids on the bus in the mornings. I need sleep, of course, but my morning job is helping me switch my schedule so I…

Writing Space Reboot 2

Well, it only took a couple of days before I did another writing space reboot in my office but I think I now have an arrangement that works.

Why move the furniture around just days after my Writing Space Reboot? Well, even though I tried using a floor lamp, I was still having trouble with headaches and eye strain in my newly rearranged space. Terribly frustrating! My gut instinct has been that the issue is the way the light comes through the window and the light above my desk so I did some troubleshooting on how the light hit me in my old office compared to my new space and brainstormed other arrangement options. Long and short of it is I moved my desk once again and now it faces the window pretty much straight on. A lot of the time I don't need the overhead light but when I use it in the daytime it's not bothering me. In the evenings the overhead light is too bright so I'm using a floor lamp which seems to be working okay.
I like the new arrangement. When I walk in the do…

Writing Space Reboot

Last November, I traded my large office for my son's small bedroom so that Ryan could have space for a full-size bed. I had great hopes for my new office - but even though I did my best to arrange my desk and bookshelves just so, my new office space never felt quite right.

There were little things that bugged me about the space, like the fact that my desk and bookshelves blocked most of my electrical outlets, but there were big issues, too, like the lighting. The space is small enough that no matter where I put my desk it's right under the ceiling light. I found the glare irritating and, to top it off, I ended up getting migraines when I worked. I really have never had migraines and didn't get them in my old office so the headaches were a very odd thing.
On top of the headaches, I found that I was struggling with my writing and felt like I couldn't organize my thoughts or edit my work without a lot of help from Owen. I also pretty much lost enthusiasm for writing and w…

More books to read!

I set a goal to read more, write more and ride more in 2014. It seems that I also have also added a buy more books for my collection category to that goal because I keep buying books to add to my must read stack. Today I stopped at Monkey See, Monkey Read (an independent bookstore in Northfield, MN) and picked up a book I ordered, one I was thinking of buying and another I picked up on a whim because it was on sale.

Here's a list of the new additions to my must read collection:

Forward from Here: Leaving Middle Age - and Other Unexpected Adventures. This book is a memoir by Reeve Lindbergh. I really enjoyed Reeve's Under a Wing, her memoir about growing up with her famous parents, Charles Lindbergh and Anne Morrow Lindbergh. I'm especially interested in reading this book to find out how Reeve handled the news that her father had three secret families in Europe. I think Reeve writes beautifully and am looking forward to this book.

Major Pettigrew's Last Stand, a novel by …

RiotGRRRaveL Wrap up

A few weeks ago I was blogging about how scared I was riding on gravel and how I didn't think I would be able to finish the gravel race - RiotGRRRaveL - that I signed up to ride. I went through Gravel Fears ... and Gravel Tears but then managed to get my bike adjusted better so that I was more comfortable. A day before the RiotGRRRaveL ride, I was still pretty nervous about riding the 30 some miles but planned to go ahead and give it a go. My goals for the ride were pretty basic:
finish the rideaverage 10 mphhave fun Well, guess what? I finished the RiotGRRRaveL gravel bike race on Saturday and accomplished my goals and then some!

Here's my RiotGRRRaveL Race Rundown:

First off, I finished the race! That is an accomplishment in itself because a couple of weeks ago I was about to give up on riding gravel. My longest gravel ride ever was only 16 miles long and my longest ride of the year so far was a road ride of 27 miles. I know 30 gravel miles is nothing to a lot of riders but it …

Ready or Not it's time for RiotGRRRaveL!

Well, tomorrow is the day of the RiotGRRRaveL race. I'm not quite as ready as I'd like to be but I can't do anything about that now. Come morning, I'll be packing up my bike and my family and I will be heading to Northfield to pick up my ride partner, Lisa. We plan to leave Lisa's around 7:00 then drive over to Hastings (about a 40 minute drive) to Emily's Bakery to pick up our bib numbers, meet some of the other riders and get a pastry!

After that, we head to the ride start location, a church at the edge of town, unload our bikes and get all nervous, I mean, get ready to go.

At 9:30 the race begins - and off we will go! There are about 100 riders signed up, 80 of them are women (the race was created, in part, to get more women riding/racing gravel). At times, I get pretty nervous about the race but I'm just telling myself I'm going on a big bike ride with a lot of fun people and that helps.

My husband, Owen, my son, Ryan, and I drove the race route th…

at last...I'm Feeling Pretty Good on Gravel

Well, it's time for an update so you don't all think I'm still crying while riding a gravel road somewhere like in my last post. Things are going much better with my gravel riding now. Here's why.

Last Saturday I took my Vaya to Milltown Cycles where I purchased it about a year ago. I called ahead to make sure either Todd or Curtis would have time to help me get my bike fitting better. Todd said he'd be around all day. So, late in the day Owen and I stopped on by and I explained what's been going on. I told Todd:

I'm really heavy in my hands and feet but not sitting much in the saddle at allI feel very unstable when riding gravel like the bike is almost skipping all over the road if I hit a rock, certainly unstable on loose gravelI have trouble with wrist pain when I'm ridingwhen I try to shift my weight back in the saddle, I'm way off the back of my saddle and my knee hurts to boot  We decided to put my Vaya in the trainer so Todd could see me pedal…

....and Gravel Tears

I set off on a ride this morning with Owen with two goals:

get more gravel miles inpay attention to my position on my bike to see if I'm putting adequate weight on my seat to help keep me stable on gravel You see, based on feedback I'm getting from my Gravel Fears post, two things that should help me feel more comfortable riding gravel are 1) time in the saddle riding on gravel (hey, that's sort of poetic) and 2) my position on my bike. In short, if I have all of my weight on my hands instead of on my butt I'm not going to be very stable on the bike. My goal was to figure out how to get my weight shifted aft.

Anyway, we set out for our ride and hit our gravel (fairly loose stuff and a hill right away) and I realized pretty quickly that I put almost all of my weight on my hands and toes but hardly any weight on my sits bones of my butt. Basically, I'm really not sitting in my saddle. Doh!

I was glad for the revelation. Seems like all I need to do is stop carrying ten…

Gravel Fears

I got out to ride some gravel today (about 4 miles) and managed to scare myself - again. I thought that gravel riding would be fun because I wouldn't have to deal with narrow or nonexistent shoulders and car traffic like I do when I ride my road bike. Instead I'm finding that I'm stressed as I navigate loose gravel and deep gravel and feel like I'm going to fall over. Even on relatively smooth areas I'll find myself hitting some chunks of gravel and feel like I might just wipe out. I never worry about falling over when I ride my road bike or my fatbike. I fear getting hit by cars on my road bike, sometimes wonder if I might tip over while attempting to ride a mountain bike trail, but I really haven't felt this insecure about my riding ability before.

It's a weird feeling, this fear of falling off my bike, this fear of riding gravel. I don't like it.

It's not that my I really dislike riding gravel or that every moment of my gravel rides is bad or sca…

Suddenly Spring!

Aside from a bit of rain yesterday, we've had about a week of really nice weather here in Minnesota and it looks like Spring has arrived at last. Just a week or so ago, the trees were pretty much bare then, suddenly it seems, they have leaves and flowers and everything is greening up.

I love this time of the year!

(Thanks to my son, Ryan, for taking these springy pictures this morning)

Riding in the House - Day 28

By the time I found time to ride my bike for 30 Days of Biking today it was raining - again - so I decided to bring my Salsa fatbike, Bear, in the house and ride indoors.

It's actually rather difficult to ride in the house. It certainly is difficult to build up much speed or log any actual milage.

The ride might have worked better if I would have:

taken off my tap shoes (I'd been practicing tap and wanted to keep practicing after my "ride" so kept them on).made sure there wasn't any mud left on my big ol' tires from my last ride.moved some furniture out of the way.
Here's my ride report:

the "ride" was short and rather erratic (pedal, stop, move stuff, walk, pedal etc.).Tap shoes don't work well on metal pedals. Absolutely no traction.I had to vacuum a lot of mud off the floor when my ride was done.I laughed
When all was said and done, I took off my tap shoes, put on a rain jacket and some puddle boots and rode Bear outside in the rain for abo…

Day 15 is a wrap - halfway there!

This year marks the 5th year of 30 Days of Biking, a challenge to ride your bike every day for 30 days straight in the month of April. I've done the challenge every year plus three bonus rounds in September.

That's a lot of biking in all sorts of weather. In past challenges, I have biked through snow, sleet, rain, hail and have been out in very nice weather, too.

The weather this April has been less than desirable. So far I've not had to bike in snow or sleet (though it's due to snow today) but it's been cold and I had to pull out my winter jacket again. Oh well. Thus, most of my rides have been short hops of a half a mile to two miles. They count. I've also had the fun of getting out on some longer rides, like two rides on the Cannon Valley Trail this past weekend when the weather was pretty nice (for Minnesota). I'm looking forward to some more nice weather so I can get some longer rides in.

Yesterday marked day 15 of this year's challenge. You know w…

Riding and Writing

“Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance, you must keep moving.” Albert Einsten

I'm at the Anderson Center in Red Wing this weekend with two of my writing friends, Joy and Chris. We're here having a writing weekend and are working on our various writing projects. The Anderson Center is an awesome place. We're staying in a huge house surrounded by lots of green space and a sculpture garden. It's quiet here and it's a perfect place to write, read and rejuvenate.

It's also a perfect place for bicycling as the Anderson Center is right by the Cannon Valley Trail. So in addition to packing some books, my journal, fountain pens, computer and works in progress, I packed Zippy, my Salsa Vaya, so I could ride this weekend - partially because I like to ride the trail, partially because I'm in the middle of another 30 Days of Biking challenge and partially because I find that riding helps me write.

Earlier today I rode about 12 miles. Most of the ride was o…

Bib Number 204

Back in February I read a post on the Salsa Cycles Facebook page: "Minnesota area women - if you are thinking about taking on a gravel event, but perhaps intimidated by the typically 100-mile distance, this might be something you are interested in. RiotGRRRaveL - a 30 - 35-mile women & family friendly gravel ride near Hastings, Minnesota on June 21st. Hit the link to learn more..."

That post spoke to me. I've been interested in gravel rides and races but have been VERY intimidated by the 100 mile distances. As a fairly slow rider who likes to talk a lot and stop for coffee on my rides, I've also been pretty intimidated at the thought of riding a gravel race with a bunch of competitive men (the vast majority of bike racers, gravel and otherwise, are men). Immediately intrigued, I clicked on the link to learn more - and within moments I signed myself up to ride RiotGrrravel

The fact that I signed up for a gravel ride, let alone a race, is pretty crazy. I have a gra…

Riding the Minnesota River Bottoms

I've heard so much about riding the Minnesota River Bottoms bike trail and have wanted to ride it ever since I got my Beargrease. We've been talking about making this happen for a while but, finally, on Saturday Owen and I made it happen! We loaded up our bikes and drove to the Lyndale Avenue access point and parking lot to explore the river bottoms for a bit. Even though we weren't sure where to go and certainly are out of shape for a long ride, we figured we could ride at least a few miles of the 11 mile trail and check things out.
The temps on Saturday were above freezing, about 37°F,  and the sun was shining. We arrived at the parking lot shortly before noon and unloaded our fatties. There were about 20 cars in the lot and we saw a couple of fat bikers right off. We unloaded our bikes and got ready to go out and find some fun! Even though we had planned to ride east on the trail, I figured I would play it safe and follow someone, so we headed west on the trail. At firs…

ARTCRANK's Best Bike Stories of 2013

In mid-January I saw a tweet saying, "Wanted: Your Best Bike Story From 2013."Intrigued, I did a little looking around and discovered that the bike-art poster show company, ARTCRANK, was gathering bike stories for their end of year best bike stories lineup. The requirements were simple, "Write ±100 words about your best bike story from the past year." That seems easy enough, I thought. But then I noticed the deadline was less than a week away. I must have been in a "can't do it" mode because I almost immediately told myself I didn't have many super rides in 2013 and didn't have time to write a story in the few days before the deadline anyway.

But the best bike story idea stuck with me and I mentioned it to my writer friend Leslie (check out her Winona Media blog ) over coffee one morning.  Leslie basically told me I needed to write something and submit it. I told her I had no clue of what to write. She suggested I look at my blog posts from 20…

And we have a Finding Harmony Winner!

And now for the moment you have all been waiting for - the winner of the Finding Harmony book giveaway is Sheri Strachan. Congratuations Sheri - Pamela Fagen Hutchins, author of Finding Harmony is going to send a signed copy of the book directly to you!
I love how things work out as though they are meant to be and when I discovered that Sheri won the book I was pretty excited. Why? Well, hang on and I'll explain...

When I drew Sheri's name as the winner of Finding Harmony, I could tell from Sheri's blog that she lived in a town near me here in Minnesota. But, because Sheri's name is Sheri and her blog is called Sandi's Entertainment (more on this below) I couldn't figure out who Sheri was exactly. When I contacted Sheri to tell her that she won the copy of Finding Harmony, she wrote back and said that we'd met before. I remembered meeting her right away! We met through Sheri's husband, David, who introduced us when we were all at local bike shop some mo…

Field of Flower Quilt Progress

I'm having a busy week but managed to spend some more time working on the Field of Flowers quilt last night.

I plan to finish fusing the flowers onto the background on Tuesday because I have an appointment to get the quilt to Anne Tuma of Down Under Quilting on Wednesday morning. Once I drop it off to Anne, she will quilt the flowers to the background with her wonderful long arm quilting machine.

In my Field of Flowers on a Cold Day post, I was pretty much just in the thinking stage of this project. I had a pile of fabric and a bunch of flower petals to trace on fusible backing and an idea of what I wanted the finished project to look like.
After I moved beyond the thinking stage, I traced the petals onto fusible, ironed them to various fabrics then cut them out so that I had a pile of petals and circles with which to create flowers.
Then I started the process of laying out the petals on my background. This takes some time but it's fun to play around with color combinations as…