Tuesday, November 4, 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!
Here's the cover and center spread - click to view the PDF of the story
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 on a website. Yet I knew the plane's story deserved to reach a larger audience and be told more fully than a QandA so I contacted Piper Flyer magazine to see if they would be interested in a story. They were! And they said to go ahead and write it as a feature story to boot!

I sent the story to the editor in August. By the end of September, I discovered the story would run yet this year so I got busy gathering photos to accompany the story. A few days later I discovered the story would be in the November issue. I was pretty excited things were moving quickly and even more excited when a few weeks ago Heather, the magazine's editor, sent me a PDF of the story so I could get a sneak peek before my print copies arrived.

When I looked at the PDF, I was amazed to see my story and the accompanying pictures covered eight pages of the magazine. Wow! Then a fellow Short Wing Piper owner, Curt, contacted me to congratulate me on the story (he had just received his magazine in the mail). He sent me a picture of the magazine's cover - that's when I realized my story was on the magazine's cover. I knew I was writing a feature story but did not realize my story would be THE feature story. That really made my day!
The story got a nice callout in the table of contents, too!
I feel so lucky I had the opportunity to write about the Lowell White Vagabond and wish to give special thanks to Vaughn Lovley for letting me write about his plane and for patiently answering dozens of questions about the Vagabond's history and restoration. Thanks, too, to photographer David Schober who let Piper Flyer use two of his gorgeous pictures of the Vagaond in flight to accompany the story. I also want to mention that I had a super experience working with Piper Flyer for the first time and found it a pleasure to work with Jen, the publisher and Heather, the magazine's editor.

Click HERE to read Airshow Entertainer: Lowell White's Vagabond on Piper Flyer's website

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

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!

Friday, September 26, 2014

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 go to sleep earlier instead of sleeping away the mornings. With my new schedule,  I get Ryan up at 6:20 (Owen wakes Rose at 5:45) and get the kids to the bus by 6:55. Since I'm already up and at 'em, I take the dog, Rocket, for a 15 minute walk then I shower and get ready for work. I'm at work by 8:30 four mornings a week and done by 11:45. After work it's lunch and then I have time to write for a bit before the kids get home from school. I really like that the morning work schedule allows me time to write in the afternoon - my favorite time to write!

I found a great blog post at Write to Done titled How to Create the Habit of Writing. The post was written by Leo Babauta of Zen Habits and has ten tips on making writing a part of your routine. I found the post helpful and though I would share it with you!

Click on the image below to read How to Create the Habit of Writing or click HERE.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

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.
Now my desk faces the window straight on.
I like the new arrangement. When I walk in the door my desk chair is just a few steps in front of me so I can walk in, sit down and get right to work. There's something very good about being able to walk right to my chair instead of having to walk around my desk to get to it. In my old office space I liked the feeling of almost tucking myself into a corner when I worked but now it feels like having my desk straight and super easy to get to is what I need. I have a good view out my window when I'm at my desk and a little shrine of sorts in full view with a fountain, some candles and a plant. I am finding that I am seeking out my writing space now after months of avoiding it. I am glad - and relieved as I was getting very discouraged with how hard it has been to write.
View from my desk - a plant, some candles, a little quilt and a fountain for some white noise while I work
I still have some clutter to clean out but I am tackling this bit by bit. A couple of days ago I set aside 15 minutes and cleaned out my overfull inbox. It's a good feeling to get rid of all of the extra papers and to put things away where they belong. There's more to clean up and pictures to hang on the walls. I'll get to it! But not right now - first I am going to pull out my journal and my favorite fountain pen and write for awhile.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

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 wasn't able to finish most of the stories I started. I guess that sounds like some sort of writer's block. Whatever you call it, it sure wasn't fun.

At the time I moved into my new office, I was also struggling with a lot of life things (an unhealthy job situation that resulted in my resignation topped the list) and I'm pretty sure that those issues contributed to the space not feeling right, the headaches, and my writing troubles. 

My gut instinct was that I just needed to move things around to make my office space more comfortable - a writing space reboot of sorts - and I'd feel better in my writing space. But I never got around to doing it. Maybe I just wasn't ready. Maybe my job and life issues had to stabilize. Who knows? What I do know is that yesterday I was ready to make a change and when I got home from work just after noon I started rearranging my office with the goal of creating a more comfortable writing-friendly arrangement. 
Newly reorganized writing space
Moving everything took me a couple of hours and in the process I discovered I have a whole bunch of stuff in my office that just isn't necessary. For example, I have a cool wooden box filled with several three-ring binders but I really don't know what's in any of the binders or why I saved them. Geez, maybe the clutter has been part of why I've felt so disorganized in my writing. Seems logical to me. So I tossed some things and generally organized the rest of the stuff so that my office is generally tidy and clutter free.
The quilt I will hang in my office - probably on the wall behind my desk
There's still some boxes to go through, some things to put away and a bunch of stuff to toss and recycle but I have an writing space that feels fresh and new. I am pretty sure that I will need to get rid of the overhead light and get myself a floor lamp to help with the glare. I sure hope that helps my headaches! I also have a quilted wallhanging to hang behind my desk and pictures to hang on the walls. For now, though, I'm going to give this new arrangement a try and see how it works.

Here's hoping the space feels better. If not, well, I can always do another writing space reboot. 

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

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 Helen Simonson. This is the book I picked up on a whim because it was on sale for $5.99. I hadn't heard of the book but felt like I had to buy it. According to the book jacket description the story is set in England, the main character values a properly brewed cup of tea and is "wry, courtly, opinionated, and completely endearing." I love England, properly brewed tea and quirky characters so this sounds like a book I will enjoy - while enjoying a properly brewed cup of tea, of course!

Tiny Beautiful Things: Advice on love and life from Dear Sugar by Cheryl Strayed. This book contains a collection of advice offered by Sugar, an online advice columnist at The Rumpus. Strayed wrote the best selling memoir Wild, a book I enjoyed reading. I've been on the fence about reading Tiny Beautiful Things but yesterday a friend mentioned reading it and loving it so I decided to give it a go and see what I think.

I have a story to work on but plan to do some reading tonight. Yay! Seems like I never have enough reading time.

What have you been reading?

Monday, June 23, 2014

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:
  1. finish the ride
  2. average 10 mph
  3. have 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 was a lot for me. And who is comparing anyway? I mean, who cares of someone else thinks 30 miles is easy? This was my race, not anyone else's race so what someone else can do just doesn't matter. I rode my race and I finished. I am happy!
Here's Lisa and I about to ride over the RiotGRRRaveL finish line (and the RiotGRRRaveL photographer, Kate)
Second,  I exceeded my goal speed of 10 mph and ended up averaging about 12 mph. To top it off, my knee didn't hurt, my wrist didn't hurt much and overall I felt pretty strong. I also really didn't stop to rest during the whole route - I took two short breaks of about 5 minutes each. Not stopping to rest is really rare for me - typically on a 30 mile ride I would stop for 15 minutes or more, have a cup of coffee, chat with people, etc. I like resting. I'm pretty convinced that I NEED to rest. But I discovered on Saturday that I can ride 30 miles without taking a significant break. This surprised me!

Here we are having FUN along the RiotGRRRaveL race route
Third - and most importantly - I had fun. FUN FUN FUN! Yes, I had a great time. My friend, Lisa, rode with me and she's a lot of the reason I had fun. We talked. We sang. We smiled. We laughed. We also pedaled and pedaled and pedaled worked hard and struggled up the hills. I know I found myself thinking that the miles would never end a few times. But we kept pedaling. And we finished the ride with some energy to spare - not much energy in my case - but enough energy so that I didn't fall over and only had to take a two hour nap when I got home (boy, did that nap feel good!)

Other things that contributed to the FUN factor of RiotGRRRaveL (yep, this gets kinda long but read on if you feel so moved)

FIRST OFF - Ellie, the person who came up with this RiotGRRRaveL race in the first place. I'm so grateful that Ellie decided to create "a fun, accessible ride that is woman & family friendly." When I saw the race announcement, I think it was on the Salsa Cycles Facebook page, I was SO excited! I'd wanted to do a gravel race but have been totally intimidated by the typical 100 mile ride length. I had been wishing for a ride just like RiotGRRRaveL and am just thrilled that Ellie forged ahead and made the ride happen. When I saw the info on RiotGRRRaveL I signed up immediately because I knew this ride would be perfect for me. And it was.

My family (husband, Owen, and kids, Rose and Ryan) acted as our cheering section along the route. They cheered as we took off from the start line, stopped at a couple of places to cheer for us enroute and were at the finish line to cheer for us and congratulate us when we finished - and they cheered for the other rides on the race, too. Also, Rose washed my bike the night before the race and Owen gave it a once over to make sure it was ready to go. In short, Owen, Rose and Ryan were wonderful and supportive. Thank you! Thank you!

Good weather - Mostly sunny. No rain. Not too hot. Pretty much perfect.

A Fine Race Route - the original race route had to be changed because of flooding. Though we missed out on a more challenging route, I was okay with the change as the new route was somewhat flatter than the original and the gravel was consistently nicer with very few loose gravel spots. In short, it was not too intimidating but still enough of a challenge to be, well, a challenge.
Kris, Myrna and Lisa before the RiotGRRRaveL race
Fabulous Women (the guys were pretty fab, too) - Of the 82 entries, I believe 80% of the riders were women. At ride start I discovered that Kris, a woman I know (her husband, Todd, works at Milltown Cycles and helped me adjust my Vaya) was also riding. Kris is fabulously fast and placed 9th overall! I also recognized a woman from Northfield and met her riding companions and met several other great people along the route. There were experienced cyclists who were definitely racing (averaging over 19 mph), people like me who like to ride but have never raced, and some who had never ridden gravel before the race. Wow!  There was even a mom who rode her cargo bike and took her toddler along for the ride. (note: previously I wrote that the mom rode with baby and toddler because I saw the baby seat and a toddler in the cargo bike. I was wrong - the mom, Morgen, rode with her toddler who sat in the cargo basket some of the time and her car seat some of the time - click HERE to read Morgen's account of her ride with Zinnia) I loved the variety of people and the overall positive vibe.

Cool Bikes - I like bikes and couldn't help but check out all the bikes on the ride. There was a Vaya just like mine, probably 20 fat bikes, lots of bikes from Salsa, Surly and All-City Cycles and all sorts of other cool bikes. There was also a tandem (the tandem riders came in 8th place) and the cool cargo bike.

Prizes and like that - Banjo Brothers, Twin Six and Erik's Bikes contributed cool prizes to the race (Lisa won a t-shirt from Twin Six and a phone wallet from Banjo Brothers). There were lots of prizes! I know Freewheel Bike hosted a few seminars on gravel riding and flat tire fixing as well. There were cool t-shirts and water bottles with the RiotGRRRaveL logo on them as well. I'm probably missing something or someone...

Kate the Awesome Photographer - at several spots along the route Kate the photographer would be alongside the road with her camera. Kate not only took great pictures (check them out at her Flickr page) but it was such a treat to see someone along the route who would smile and wave at us. Plus I felt sort of famous getting my picture taken a lot.
Another great picture by Kate Lockhart of a bunch of RiotGRRRaveL riders
Organized Event - an event with cool people isn't much fun if the event isn't well run. RiotGRRRaveL was well organized and everything ran smoothly from my perspective. Part of the organizational success was due, I'm sure,  to all of the ....

Awesome Volunteers - The RiotGRRRaveL race could not have happened without many great volunteers. There were people to sign us in, mark our times as we crossed the finish line, ride the route before the race and re-route the route the night before the race. There  were volunteers like Max (who I know from playing in the Minnesota Mandolin Orchestra and from LEGO League) who helped along the route and passed out snacks, and ride organizer, Ellie's, family (husband, Tony and daughters Cedar & Zelia) who, I'm sure, lived and breathed RiotGRRRavel these past few months. Our ride start and end was at Hope Lutheran Church and church members stepped up with snacks before and after the race and let us use the bathrooms - yay!

So that's it - RiotGRRRaveL 2014 is a wrap. It sounds like Ellie and crew may offer the ride again next year. If so, I'm looking forward to doing it again!

Thanks again, Ellie, for RiotGRRRaveL. You are fabulous!
Thanks again, Lisa, for pedaling every mile of the ride with me and for keeping me smiling :-)
Riding on down the RiotGRRRaveL road. Photo ©Kate Lockhart

Friday, June 20, 2014

Ready or Not it's time for RiotGRRRaveL!

Gravel road on RiotGRRRaveL route
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 this afternoon. The route is a mixture of gravel types from nice to ride to pretty loose. There are some hilly portions and the ride be challenging. That said, it's a pretty route with lots of great scenery and the beginning of the ride and end of the ride are on great, straight, almost flat, roads.
One of the gravel roads along the RiotGRRRaveL route 
Because of all of the rain we've been getting, one part of the route is underwater so the race crew has worked up a new route and is getting new cue sheets ready for us. I can imaging they are quite busy this evening! My guess is, given what I saw of the route today, that they can pretty easily route us around the underwater portion of the race.

The ride route is 33 miles long. As I mentioned, from what I saw today, it will be a challenging ride but I think it's doable. I would be better off if I could have gotten some more gravel miles in but this past week but I was down with the stomach flu for a couple of days and then the rain kept me off the roads. Oh well. Though I haven't gotten in any real long rides so far this year, my longest thus far was a 27 mile road ride, in past years I have ridden 70 miles in a day (road ride) so I know I'm capable of going far. The hills worry me a bit. And the gravel. And the distance. I guess that's pretty much the whole ride. Oh well. At least now I have my bike adjusted well and I am feeling more comfortable riding on gravel. But, best of all, I know I have a great riding companion in Lisa and I will bet that the energy of riding with about 80 women will carry me along quite well.

All right. Time for go. Best thing I can do for myself right now is get a good night's sleep!
Nice scenery along the RiotGRRRaveL route

Friday, June 13, 2014

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 all
  • I 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 gravel
  • I have trouble with wrist pain when I'm riding
  • when 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 pedaling and how I actually am sitting when I'm riding (a trainer is a contraption in which you fasten your bike's rear wheel so the wheel runs on a little roller system and you are able to pedal in place and "ride" indoors).

Right away Todd was able to see that my position on the bike was causing my discomfort. He raised up my handlebars a bit. I pedaled some more to check to see if raising the handlebars helped. It did. Raising them took some pressure off of my hands and shifted my weight back into the saddle so I was more on my sits bones.

I told Todd that based on how I sit on my other bikes I still felt I should have more weight on my sits bones. Todd then looked at my saddle position and raised the nose on my saddle a bit so the saddle was more level. I pedaled my Vaya on the trainer again. Yep, that felt much better.

Todd asked about my tire pressure. I've been riding my 26-1.75 tires with 45 psi in the front and 50 psi in the rear. Todd suggested that for gravel I could ride with less air and that would help me feel more stable.

With plans to ride the Vaya on actual roads and not just the trainer ASAP, I loaded up my Vaya in my van, thanked Todd for his help, and headed home.

Guess what? I let some air out of my tires the next morning and headed out for a ride. Owen joined me on his Mukluk and we rode about 9 miles. I felt oh so much better on my Vaya! So much better. I could feel that my weight was more in the saddle and less on my hands. I felt more stable and less like I was going to crash every time I hit a rock. We had some loose gravel to deal with on the ride but also had a lot of very nice, hard gravel. Overall the ride on my newly adjusted Vaya was a great success!! 

I rode the Vaya again the next day then the next few days were extraordinarily busy for me but I finally had time for another gravel ride this morning. Owen and I mapped out a 16 mile route and headed out. I felt pretty comfortable on the Vaya, found some great gravel on the route and really enjoyed myself. It's possible that I'll still tweak things down the road after the RiotGRRRavel race (it's just a week away - aaarrrggghh!) but, for now, things are fitting well enough to press on. So I will.

You know, a week ago I wouldn't have believed that I could have had such a great gravel ride - but today's ride was really wonderful. It was what I always dreamed gravel rides are supposed to be like: pleasant temperatures, charming company (thanks for riding with me, Owen), almost no traffic, nice roads, great scenery, a bike that feels pretty comfortable to ride - ah, it was nice. Very nice. 

Yep...at last...I'm feeling pretty good on gravel!

Thanks, Todd, for your help. Thanks Joe, Christopher, David, Marty, Kate and anonymous blog commenter, for your support and advice.

It goes without saying, but I'll say it anyway, Thanks, Owen, for riding with me (even when I'm crying), for listening to me and for being with me every step (perhaps that should be pedal stroke?) of the way.

Friday, June 6, 2014

....and Gravel Tears

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

  1. get more gravel miles in
  2. pay 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 tension in my shoulders and settle my weight in my saddle and my gravel riding will go so much better. Should be easy enough to fix, right?

Or maybe not.

So I shifted my weight in my saddle and the only way that I could get my weight on my sits bones had me sitting so far off the back of the saddle that I wasn't positioned on the saddle correctly. sigh. This position resulted in my knee pain coming back. I shifted and resifted my weight but never found myself in a place where I felt I had my weight on my saddle. Bummer.

Were I a Super Positive Person I would have finished out the ride feeling great because at least I knew what part of my issue was with feeling comfortable on gravel.  I would have said things to myself like "Yay! I know what I need to do! I just need to work on tweaking my bike. Someone can help me with that!" or "Yay! I'm tough! I can work through a little bit of pain while I tweak my bike to get the fit just right!" or "Yay! At least now I know what the issue is. That's more than half the battle."

I'm working on being that Super Positive Person. But when I'm tired, kinda in pain and sort of scared I don't find myself in Super Positive Person mode. Instead, this morning I found myself in Super Overwhelmed Person mode and I thought things like:

  • But I don't really know how to adjust my bike to get the fit right so I'm screwed
  • The RiotGRRRaveL race is just two weeks away. I'll never be ready
  • I don't know who can help me adjust my bike
  • The guy who helped me adjust my bike last time probably just thinks I'm complaining too much and won't help me again. 
  • Plus he's busy, when on earth am I going to find a time when he can help me?
  • How on earth am I going to keep training for this ride if I'm in pain?
  • I'm a wimp
  • No one wants to ride with me because I'm so slow
  • I'm too slow
  • and so on
Did I mention that I felt so overwhelmed and frustrated that I cried the last two miles of my bike ride? Yep. I'm prone to tears anyway but really outdid myself this time.

Oh I am so much fun to hang out with sometimes. Geez. I can't be the only person in the world who has issues with bike fit (and thinking positive) but I sure feel like I'm the only person in this boat sometimes. Actually, make that most of the time. 

But, now that hours have passed and the ride is well behind me, I can switch into Super Positive Person mode and realize that  I did, in fact, achieve my ride goals for the morning. I logged more gravel miles on my ride and I paid attention to my position. So that's all good. Yay!

Also, in the afternoon, I tracked down my bike fitting friend at his work and said I needed help. He said, first of all,  that riding loose gravel is really, really, tough, for everyone.  He also mentioned that I could try raising my handlebars a bit to help shift my weight back.

So that's my next plan of action - adjust my bar height a bit and get back out and try it again. Let's hope I can keep Super Overwhelmed Person in check tomorrow and manage not to cry.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

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 scary. There are wonderful moments. There are some great times spend coasting down hills. There's the thrill in getting up a big hill. There are memorable moments like today when I scared up six buzzards feasting on fresh road-kill (today it was a young buck in the middle of the road. Thankfully the buzzards moved before I got to them). There are times when I'm overwhelmed with the beauty of my surroundings as I pedal down the road. There's the glory of finding a long stretch of fast gravel that rides better than tar.

Pretty decent to ride gravel near my home
Riding gravel gives me sights and sounds that I wouldn't get if I was riding my road bike. But it still scares me - and it's pretty easy for me to get caught up in those scary moments and forget the wonderful moments because I'm not very confident with this gravel riding thing.

I'm guessing the best way to get over the fear is to ride more gravel. And, since I have a gravel race to ride on June 21st I guess I will just have to deal with the fear and ride more and more gravel in the days to come.

Right now my goal is to ride my 30 mile gravel race averaging 10 miles per hour or more and manage to not fall off my bike.

Most of the time I believe I can do that.

But there are moments when I wonder why I'm trying to ride gravel at all. I know lots and lots of people are riding gravel and they go really fast - like 16 mph - and I end up just feeling inept knowing they are so fast and I am so slow and so unconfident. I recently got off a bike club email list because of how inept I felt every time I read about yet another fantastic really long, really fast, really difficult ride they were going to go on or just got back from.

A big gravel hill and beautiful scenery
Yeah. I suppose I could feel inspired to work harder and get to this level - but, you know what? I don't really WANT to go that fast or ride that many miles. I don't. It's great that other people do it but it's not what I want to do. I do wish there were more people like me, though, who wanted to go shorter distances at slower speeds...it sometimes feels like I just don't fit in this world of bicycling...

Oh well. It's time I stop comparing myself with the fast set and just look at what I WANT TO DO and what I WILL DO to get ready for this gravel race. Here's the deal:

  • What I WANT TO DO is get more confident in my gravel riding
  • What I WANT TO DO is actually ride and finish this gravel race I signed up for 
  • What I WILL DO is ride gravel in the weeks to come so I get more confident at my own, slow and not-so-steady pace
  • What I WILL DO is forget about everyone else who is faster, stronger, better than me and just worry about me (Okay, that's probably going to be the most difficult thing for me to do but I will do my best with that.)
  • What I WILL DO is get out and ride with my friend and race partner, Lisa, and do more training rides with her. She's really cool, helps make me feel better about my riding and gives me great riding tips without having me realizing she's offering advice 
  • What I WILL DO is focus on the good parts of my gravel rides instead of the scary parts
  • What I WILL DO is give myself credit for riding at all and as much as I do. A few years ago I wasn't riding a bike at all. Now I have four bikes and ride a ton. That's something... 
Okay - Now that I've written about all of this gravel fear I have a plan to move ahead. Good enough. I have my work cut out for me. I may get to the end of my gravel race and decide to skip riding gravel in the future and stick to riding paved trails or something. That's a decision to make later. As for this moment, it's time for me to make dinner then get outside and enjoy this gorgeous evening. I hope you do the same.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

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)

Monday, April 28, 2014

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 about a tenth of a mile. It wasn't bad.

Now I'm wondering if I should have brought Bear upstairs and tried riding down the stairs. Probably not.

Day 28 of 30 Days of Biking - Done!

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

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.

Taken on one of our longer rides last weekend.
My Vaya, Zippy, alongside the Cannon Valley Trail
Yesterday marked day 15 of this year's challenge. You know what? I almost quit and didn't bother riding. I was tired. The weather had taken a turn and it was cold (again). By the time I got home from work and other things it was past nine. What I wanted to do was take a bath and go to bed.

But I still got out my fatbike, Bear, strapped on my helmet and headed outside. I had to force myself. It was not easy.

Owen joined me on his fatbike (he's doing the challenge again, too) and we rode around the neighborhood and talked. We weren't out long, maybe 10 minutes. But time and distance of the rides doesn't matter. As long as I get on the bike and move forward, the ride counts.

To be honest, I nearly quit after I moved forward three feet and called it a day because that would have been enough to count. But by the time my butt was in the saddle, I figured I might as well keep on pedaling and actually go somewhere. So I did and now Day 15 of 30 Days of Biking - 2014 is done!

Saturday, April 12, 2014

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 on the Cannon Valley Trail but the access roads from the Anderson Center to the trail was partially on gravel so I got some gravel in, too. I also deviated from the trail and enjoyed exploring a new-to-me pathway to a park. Both the access road and the park path had some pretty steep hills so I got some hill work in. This is my longest ride in months. Overall, I feel pretty good but it's pretty clear I have some work to do before I can manage the RiotGrrravel ride in June let alone the 60 mile Minnesota Ironaman ride I signed up for at the end of April or the 50 mile Bike MS Ride I'm doing in May.

My Vaya, Zippy, along the Cannon Valley Trail.
The sign marks the head of a walking path
leading up to the Anderson Center's grounds.
While my biking time this weekend is helping me get in shape, I did find myself wondering if it would be wiser for me to spend less time on my bike and more time actually writing during my writing weekend. I mean, I'm here to write, right? And Joy and Chris are writing so much that they both told me they finished their books while I was out on my ride. Okay so they were teasing me but I know they both made progress on their projects whereas I have hardly touched my book or essay projects this weekend.

But here's the deal. My riding time is very much helpful to my writing time. While I ride I create blog posts in my head. I craft sentences. I come up with ideas. I get inspired by the things I see. Pedaling jogs my memory and I recall things that will fit into the stories I'm working on. Sure, it's frustrating that I can't jot down my perfectly crafted sentences and stories while I'm riding my bike. Some of my in my head writing does get lost because I forget what I was going to write by the time I get back to my desk. Or maybe it doesn't really get lost and it's still in my head somewhere? Actually, it doesn't really matter because I have found that my riding time helps motivate and inspire me to write when I DO get back to my desk.

I have found that the time I spend writing and editing in my head helps me write and edit when I put pen to paper. I have found that I crave the physical exercise and that moving makes me feel happy - and that when I'm feeling happy I can focus and keep working even on difficult writing projects. I have found that I need to move - bicycle, walk, garden, be physical in some way - in order to stay balanced in life. I have also discovered that I need to be feeling balanced in life in order to keep on writing.

So it's all good. I'll not worry about losing out on writing time because I'm riding my bike. All of that time on the bike is time well spent - both for my physical self and for my writing self. Biking helps me stay balanced so I will keep on pedaling and keep on writing, too.

Feeling rather balanced and happy along the Cannon Valley Trail

Friday, April 11, 2014

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 gravel bike (a Salsa Vaya named Zippy) but I had some issues with knee pain so rode less than 50 miles total of gravel last year. I am a slow, back of the pack, sort of bike rider. Add to that, oone of my few gravel rides last summer I managed to tip over in a rather comical slow motion fashion and skin up my knee (Whoops! I have a cool scar now, at least.). With my lack of gravel time, lack of speed, and lack of confidence in my riding skills, It's an understatement to say that I'm not prepared to ride a gravel race.

So it's a good thing I have a couple of months to prepare because I'm officially registered for RiotGrrravel and have been assigned bib number 204 for the race!!!! 

The race will be held on June 21st in Hastings, Minnesota area and will be about 30 miles long. The ride filled up within a month so I feel lucky to be among the 100 riders. There are cool prizes, pastries from a local bakery (motivation enough for me!), and the ride promises to be reasonably challenging but not over the top.

My goal is to finish the race and gain confidence - and have fun in the process! 

So with the race less than three months away, it's time for me to get riding some gravel. A couple of days ago I had my friend, Marty,  made some minor adjustments to Zippy in hopes of fixing my knee issue. Since then I've ridden Zippy twice on gravel and my knee was okay. That's a good start! My friend Lisa is riding the race with me and we are planning to get out and ride some gravel together in the weeks to come to prepare for the ride. I don't know Lisa terribly well but she has such a positive spirit and outlook on life that I know she will be a great riding parter.

Now I just have to put on many, many, miles on Zippy and get ready for June 21st - Look out RiotGrrravel, here I come!!

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

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.
Owen riding his Mukluk on the River Bottoms trail
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 first we were riding on a road but then we hit some obvious bike paths in the snow and knew we were in the right place.

Oh, was it ever the right place for this gal and her fatbike. I felt right at home riding the trails on Bear. The trails twisted and turned. They were challenging enough but not so much that I felt completely overwhelmed. Best part of all -  I did not get bored! My brain was fully engaged and my body felt strong. And it was absolutely beautiful riding the snow covered trails!

Long and short of things - Yippee Skippy! We had a blast and rode about 7 miles of the trail in just over an hour. We were tired in the end but really had a great time. I can't wait to do it again. And I'm SO glad I bought my Beargrease just over a year ago!

Yep - that's all! End of blog post. Sort of...

Here I am going down a big hill to cross Nine Mile Creek
(I made it about 3/4 of the way up the other side and had to push the rest of the way)
If you are a bike person you may want to know more about trail conditions and stuff. Or maybe you want to read about how I almost had to walk back because I let the air out of my tire. If you are interested in reading a lot more, read on! If not, you're off the hook and can get back to whatever it was you were doing before you visited my blog.

Back to the ride:

The River Bottom trails are relatively narrow, anywhere from the width of a fat tire to about a foot across. The trail twists and turns through the woods along the Minnesota River. It's quite scenic! I loved it. I find I like riding single track and LOVED riding in the snow!

We saw about 20 other riders and, since we were riding single track, we had to move over to let people pass us from time to time. The good thing about this is that we got to see a lot of people and actually talk to some. Sometimes we'd pull off the trail to let people pass, say "hi" and "thank you" and bike on. Other times we'd all stop and chat, maybe ask about the trail or talk bikes. Almost everyone we saw was SO friendly and helpful. So far with riding trails, I've been fortunate to meet riders who are generally friendly - Maybe it's the fact that people are riding fat bikes that makes them so cheerful :)

This whole passing on the trail thing is not an easy feat, at least not in the winter - basically you either stop and awkwardly move your bike off the trail into the snow so people can pass you or you just ride off the trail and coming to a dead stop in over a foot of snow. Either way, it's awkward and you end up standing off trail in the snow until the other rider passes.

As the day went on, it got warmer outside and the snow got squishier. One rider described the conditions to me as like riding on mashed potatoes. That was a pretty good description! The trail was well packed but the top few inches were pretty soft in places. I decided that I would let some air out of my tires so they would handle the soft snow better. So I stopped and stepped off the trail and let some air out of my rear tire. No problem.

Then I went to let some out of my front tire. I took off the valve stem cap then unsecured the tip of the valve so that I could push it to let air out. Unfortunately my valve core (the tip of the valve stem) unscrewed and came off of the stem leaving the top of the stem open so that air started coming out fast. I had to put my finger over the hole to stop the tire from going completely flat. In the process I dropped the valve core into the snow. So there I was, digging in the snow with one hand and covering the tip of my valve stem with my other hand. Brilliant!

I found the core (thankfully - had I not my only option would have been to completely change out the tube with a new one, or, now that I think of it, maybe pull the core out of my spare tube. But generally you'd need a pliers or something to loosen the core, and I didn't have one of those) and Owen helped me screw it back in. Whew. Relief!
Bear in snow
So now I was ready to get some air back into that tire (it was pretty much completely flat at this point). Owen got out his bike pump and tried to attach it to the valve stemp to pump the tire. But the pump fitting wouldn't fit onto the stem. After some troubleshooting and after dropping of a very small piece of the pump into the snow then digging for it and finding it, we got the pump put together correctly and started pumping up my tire. It takes forever to pump up a flat fat tire. And it doesn't help when you bend the stem a bit like I did. But we finally got my tire pumped up and we were ready to ride again.

All in all, we were maybe working on the tire for 10 minutes but it felt like forever. There was more than one moment where I thought we'd be walking back or waiting for someone who had a pump we could borrow. But, in the end, we were able to fix things and get back on our bikes. And, best part of all, I learned a lot about valve stems and pumps. That's all good.

We rode a bit further up the trail but the conditions were getting worse, we were already tired and I was not keen on trying to adjust my tire pressures anymore - so we turned back to the trail head and called it a day. And a good day it was!

Lessons learned:
  • valve stems have valve cores (I knew this at some level this but know I REALLY know this)
  • it make sense to make sure your valve cores are actually tight
  • remember to bring a spare CO2 cartridge just in case your pump doesn't work. 
  • before you ride, test your pump to make sure it actually works
  • seems like a good idea to add a small pliers to bike bag
  • if you need to make adjustments to your bike, find a place that is NOT in a foot of snow
  • almost everyone who passes you will ask you if you are okay or need help 
  • laughter helps everything
Owen and I along the trail

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

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 2013 to see if I could use one as a starting point.

Hmmm, I thought. I could at least check out my past blog posts and see if there was anything I could work with. I left my coffee meeting that morning with a promise to Leslie that I would submit a story to ARTCRANK.

So I looked through my 2013 bicycling blog posts and found one titled "Funnest Bike Ride Ever!" Oh yes! That was a great ride! I thought. The blog entry was long, though, at about 1,400 words but I got into an "I can do it" mode and got to work to make the story much, much shorter and suitable for ARTCRANK.
As a writer, I found it an interesting exercise to take a long blog entry and rework it for a non-blog market AND cut it down to something much shorter. It was hard work but in the end I was happy with my story and submitted it to ARTCRANK by the deadline. They published my story and a bunch of others at: http://artcrank.com/features/best-bike-stories-2013

I've read all of the stories and enjoyed them all. I have a few favorites, like the story by Brianna Prahl and her 4 year old daughter's first bike race, but I think they are well worth reading so please check them out! Mine is near the end of the lineup of stories. Or, you can just look below the picture of me riding my Salsa Beargrease fatbike, Bear, and read my story right here!

If you are interested in comparing my ARTCRANK version of my best bike ride story with the original, click here to read the original post.
Best Bike Story of 2013 by Myrna CG Mibus - as published on ARTCRANK
Seldom would a ride with mosquitos, mud and a flat tire be considered a best ride. Yet, a laughter-filled trail ride last June was just that.
From a guy who just bought a mountain bike to one who raced the Tour Divide, a spread of riders took off for the trails from our gathering point at Milltown Cycles in Faribault, MN that night. We soon hit single track more challenging than any I’d ever ridden. Early on a steep uphill stopped me in my tracks. One rider, too close, decided to pass and rode ahead.
Talking, riding, laughing, we twisted through the woods on single and double track. Had I known the ride would be so challenging I would have stayed home. But at the back of the pack we had a blast, and I forgot to be scared.
At a stop to regroup I noticed a hiss. A flat. Dozens of mosquitos slapped, lots of help changing my tire and we were riding again.
As we neared the end of our ride, I realized that with all of the challenges, this ride could have been one of my worst. Yet, because of the laughter and fun people, it was my best.
Almost back, mud puddles begged me to ride through them. Smiling at the prospect of finishing off the ride in mud-splattered style, I obliged.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

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!
Sheri will get her own copy of Finding Harmony in the mail soon!
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 months ago. Sheri and I talked a bit and decided we should go on a bike ride sometime (we still have to make that happen!). Little did I know at that time that Sheri had a blog and would happen to find mine as well and enter my book giveaway contest!

Okay, so why did I get excited and say that Sheri winning the book was meant to be? Well, first I think it's cool that Sheri happened upon my blog. Then, you may recall that I mentioned in my post about Finding Harmony that I met Pamela through bicycling. I wouldn't have even known about Pamela and her books if it wasn't for bicycling - and I wouldn't have met Sheri if it wasn't for bicycling - and Sheri wouldn't have won the copy of Finding Harmony if it wasn't for bicycling - and I just think that bicycling connection is kinda cool!

Back to talking about Sheri's blog - Sandi's Entertainment. I'm so glad I found Sheri's blog! The full name of her blog is "Sandi's Entertainment: Random thoughts about stuff to amuse my sister." Sheri wrote that she started the blog because "My sister wants me to write a blog so she has something to amuse her on a regular basis. So I thought I'd try." The blog posts cover topics from recipes to make to lefse making to sweater knitting to good books to read - and more! Sheri has a good sense of humor that comes through in her blog posts. I'm quite certain she has managed to entertain her sister through her blog - and I'm certain she will entertain you, too, if you read it. Check out Sandi's Entertainment for yourself and see!

Click on this image to visit Sandi's Entertainment

Thanks to all of you who entered the drawing for the Finding Harmony book giveaway! I've never done a giveaway on my blog before and found it quite fun to see where all of the entries came from. I also had fun checking out many new blogs! 

Still wishing for a copy of Finding Harmony or one of Pamela's other books? Visit Pamela's Amazon Author Page or her website at http://pamelahutchins.com

Monday, February 3, 2014

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.
This is what I started with - fabrics and petals to trace on fusible webbing
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 I create the flowers. 

At that stage, I took a few digital pictures so I could remember the way I arranged the petals on the background. I refer back to the picture many times when I get to the actual fusing stage at my ironing board.
Playing around with flower petals to create flowers.
At this point, the flowers are not fused onto the background
As you can see in the pictures below, I ended up changing one of my flowers quite a bit from the design stage to the finished stage. 

The first three flowers are fused to the background.
I still need to add to the centers of the two big flowers
and, of course, the rest of the flowers.
Here's a close up of one of the flowers.
I got kind of elaborate with this one!
I have quite a bit more work to do tomorrow to get this quilt ready for Anne - but I like the work because it's so much fun to see the flowers "grow" on my quilt and the entire Field of Flowers to take shape!