Sit on It and Spin!

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 Haystack in a view from my neighborhood

Earlier this summer, I teetered on top of a step-ladder and reached above my head to unhook my dusty road bike from a hook on the ceiling. Strong impulsive tendencies still course through my veins. If I had lost my grip, my heavy bike would have crashed to the garage floor shattering all of my clay pots below me. My arms shook in response to its weight, but I kept my balance and set it down on its flat and cracked rubber tires. I had longed to ride my bike and was propelled by the fear of having to get a knee replacement someday.

When I graduated from college I drove with friends to Jackson Hole Wyoming to ski. The last day we ventured down Pepi’s run where I face-planted, twisting my knee when the ski did not release. Years of tennis and bump skiing in the Colorado Rockies has taken its toll and biking is one of the best cures for knee problems.

With the cracked tires filled, I ran upstairs to dress. I found my bike shorts and fluorescent yellow shirt up on a shelf. With so many drivers distracted on cell phones, I was happy to look like a human yield sign! My helmet had collected its fair share of dirt and spider webs over the years. I smiled when I discovered my biking gloves inside out from the last time I wore them.

As I rolled my bike out of the garage, the clock on the wall read 4:30. A strong breeze struck me headlong. “An hour ride will be perfect.” I had already played two hours of tennis and did not want to overdo it since I had another match the next morning.  The seat had been adjusted for one of my kids when they were younger.  “Oh well. I’m not going far. I will raise the seat next time.” I rode down into town thinking I could handle a round-trip ride to Hygiene. This quaint little enclave in the Boulder Valley is a popular destination for bikers. The small grocery store at the town’s center is a gathering place and I promised myself some kind of ice cream treat upon my arrival.

I rode through the red light across the highway and thought, “Jeez, I probably should have stopped.” I bet more than one driver waiting for the light to turn green took my name in vain!

When I pedaled past 75th Street I figured it was too early for the turn north to Hygiene. Yellow and purple wildflowers lined the country road and the spectacular view of the foothills drew me onward. A miniature mountain called Haystack which rises up out of the valley became my point of reference. Bikers on the other side of the road greeted me with “the nod.” Some actually waved. There is an instant camaraderie among bike riders and I was glad to be a part of it again.

Soon I passed the entrance to Lake Valley and knew I had gone way too far.  Now I knew why my knee cap had slid over to the outside of my knee. New muscles made themselves known for the first time in years! I gazed back over my shoulder at the enormous hill I had just coasted down. There was no way I would turn around and ride back up that monster. It could be a killer! The wind would no longer be in my face if I road north on highway 36.

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Rush hour 

I turned onto the single lane highway and shared the road with commuters blasting by at 65 mph. This highway runs along the base of the foothills and with the slight increase in elevation, it presented amazing views of the Boulder Valley. The ever-changing vista on my ride included every shade of green reminding me of Ireland. I passed lush farmland where horses grazed enjoying the tender shoots of grass. Golden hawks flew above me and one called out sending a chill up my spine. Haystack had been out in the distance in the beginning of my ride and now I was well beyond it. The foothills undulated like big toes attached to giants legs along the west side of the winding road.

I found myself on a downhill coast when I passed Nelson Road. I remembered a huge hill I would have to climb if I headed east, so I thought, “Screw that!”

With each familiar road I passed, I slowly made the decision to ride to Lyons. I turned onto Highway 66 and finally headed east. I would ride to Hygiene as planned, but would enter from the north instead of the south. By this time, my bike seat felt like an unpadded iron rod. I stood up on my pedals to release the tension in my tired arms, tight shoulders, cricked neck and sore butt.

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As I entered Hygiene on 75th street, towering cottonwoods rose up, dwarfing the small homes along the road. The shade was a welcome respite. I finally recognized the country store on the corner. I had reached my destination. I pulled up onto the gravel driveway and parked my bike. I felt an old familiar weightless sensation after riding as I sauntered up, but my heart sank when I stared through the darkened windows.

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My cell phone read 6:3o! They had closed a half hour ago. I had been riding for two hours already. I kept myself from calling home for a “sag wagon” and climbed back on my bike for what I thought would be a half hour ride home.

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The muscles located above my knees which had been dormant for so many years, now burned like hot pokers. What they call “sits bones,” in yoga now felt like “raw bones.” I pedaled to the intersection I had blown through over two hours ago and this time pushed the button for the light to change. “How will I make it up the behemoth hill back up to my house?”

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Almost home! 

I stood up temporarily relieving my sore butt bones and cranked my handle bars back and forth. I remembered that a neighbor’s house was a half mile away from home as I passed it. “These last few blocks are killing me!”

As I reached the top of the hill, I gathered speed for the last one. I careened onto my steep street and my bike quickly decelerated. “I can’t make it. I’ve either got to call for a ride this last half block or walk it.” I turned the corner and to my horror my neighbors stood outside their home chatting with a visitor. I couldn’t stop now! I jammed my bike into its granny gear and pushed and pulled with what was left on my reserve tank. I rolled up my driveway and into the garage.

“I made it!”

The clock in the garage read 7:10. I had ridden over two and one half hours and had traveled 35 miles! It had taken longer to ride from Hygiene than I anticipated. I made a carbo-loaded dinner of chicken with marinara sauce and pasta, showered, and was in bed with an ice pack by 9:00.

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Home at last!

When I stepped out of bed the next morning my knees were pain-free. My neck and shoulders however, contained some knots as big as golf balls and the stiffness probably effected my tennis match. I am happy to report that I did not wait for the dust and spider webs to gather on my bike helmet before taking another cruise to Hygiene and I remembered to turn on 75th!

 When was the last time you took a bike ride?

Photos by S. Lindau 

A different kind of biking and yet I couldn’t resist! 

Get Out While You Still Can! Videos and Photo

  If you are reading this then you are neither boarding up your windows, running to higher ground, nor driving inland.

Please listen to me, GET OUT WHILE YOU CAN!

Don’t hide under the bed like Dorothy.
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Don’t take picture of lightning. (One of my favorite pastimes.)
Don’t go jet skiing like these fools!
Don’t set up your lawn chairs to watch the storm come in while raising your fist in the air and shouting, “BRING IT ON MOTHR NATURE!
 
Good luck my friends and take care of yourselves.
Photo by S. Lindau

Flash Fiction Friday – The Hunter and The Hunted

The cool night struck my energized body with force, electrifying my hair follicles. The full moon cast long dappled shadows across the trodden path. A pungent scent of vermin and nervous perspiration mixed with death filled the heavy night air. A great horned owl hooted swooping in front of me, its wings leaving a rippled current in its wake. The north wind rattled branches of ancient oak trees while its leaves trembled like old hands. My heart beat wildly in my chest and I began to lope. My mouth salivated as I imagined the taste. It was a perfect night for hunting.

She knew she should have listened to her mother and taken the bus. It was farther home this way than she remembered. “Did I go the wrong way at the last fork in the road? Hadn’t I always veered to the right? Why doesn’t anything look familiar?” Her heart began pounding in her ears as a chill went down her spine. “It is getting so dark and…. Wait! What was that?” She heard branches snapping behind her. She whipped her head around to see, but there was nothing but a blackness that engulfed the path as if it was being devoured by darkness.

Photo by Madison Woods


From the creepy television series Twin Peaks

I Am Going Straight to Hell or Household Confessional

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Being a product of Catholic upbringing, I carry around my fair share of guilt. As a child, the night before making my Confession at Our Lady Queen of Peace Church, I would lie awake trying to recall all of my most recent transgressions. Disobeying seemed to be at the top of the list most months. Why was it so hard to Honor thy Father and thy Mother? I guess I was never that kid who jumped when I was called to help. When the devil named laziness beckoned, I followed. “In a minute!” was my mantra and then I would conveniently forget.

Now that I am an adult, life has gotten a lot more complicated. I still stare at the ceiling some nights with one regret or another because try as I may, I am still far from perfect. Being Human sucks sometimes. But there is a new transgression that has seeped into my psyche and can cause that same sick feeling of guilt. I recite a slightly different mantra, “Oh, just this once.” Maybe I don’t lose sleep over it, but the pang at the time of committing the offense is the same. My shoulder slump when I have let myself down. Once again laziness is at the core of this new evil deed.

I am paving my way to RECYCLE HELL! Okay to be honest I am extremely OCD about separating my trash. I have three bins under my sink which I periodically empty out into large containers in the garage. One is for non-recyclable waste and another is for mixed use, such as paper, aluminum cans, and glass. If I make a mistake, I stuff my hand down into the garbage and fish out the misplaced rubbish. After all I figure hands are washable, right? But I have the biggest problem with the newest addition to the recycling family. Compost is by far the smelliest and the most foul. Ugh! I scrape most of the disgusting food down the garbage disposal. I fill my composting bin with any other leftovers which would otherwise result in having to call a plumber or cause the replacement of the unit.

But that’s not all dear reader. (This is hard for me.) I admit that one time while cleaning out my refrigerator, I came upon an old jar whose contents had become an unrecognizable organism. After staring at the specimen (probably from 2002), for several minutes, my hands began to shake. As I turned on the water and the disposal, I began talking myself through what was almost inconceivable to me. I had survived changing many repulsive and leaky diapers, the messes made by my dog after she ate several chocolate kisses, and I have removed the puke off all kinds of surfaces. I knew I could do this.

I gathered my courage and began to unscrew the lid. I turned my head as far away from the aberrant jar somewhat resembling an owl as I squinted while peeking over my shoulder. It wouldn’t budge. I had to run water over the container to loosen the gooey slime. Then using all my strength until my arms quivered in exhaustion, the jar suddenly untwisted, simultaneously unleashing the most vile, repugnant, and nauseating smell of death I have ever experienced. Not daring to inhale again, I glanced inside to determine if I could just throw it under the tap to squelch the rot and dispose of the revolting glop, but was horrified at the discovery of an other-worldly array of colored mold which seemed to move as the air struck its membrane. It was no use. The mold had sucked any moisture the gunge once possessed in a previous life form. I had reached my limit. With trembling hands I returned the lid to the top of the jar (warning – this might be too much for you to read) and screwed it back on.

Then I looked around to see if anyone would observe the sin I was about to commit. The 11th Commandment: Thou shalt not throw recyclables in the trash. I ran with my quarry through the back door to the garage, opened the cover on the small garbage pail and threw it in. With a resounding bang, my fate was sealed. I dragged myself back into the kitchen with heavy shoulders and thought to myself, “I am so weak.” Then I cried out to no one in particular, “Next time I will be stronger!”

I know I have disappointed you. I make myself sick too, but I can assure you it hasn’t happened very often. I remember seeing the final scene of The 9th Gate when Dean Corso played by Johnny Depp willingly stepped through the fiery gates of Hell. Although it was a dramatic ending, I don’t really believe in an afterlife filled with fire and brimstone. Being buried “alive” in compostable garbage would be a more horrible fate for me. If I do go to Recycle Hell, it will be kicking and screaming!

Do you feel a pang of guilt when you don’t recycle? 

Click here to read about garbage and recycling fun facts.

Click here for an article in the August 22nd Boulder Daily Camera newspaper about harnessing landfill methane gas 

 

Facing Cliff Flash Fiction

In a response to Madison Woods‘ Friday Flash Fiction prompt, I have written two 100 word flash fiction stories inspired by this rock formation. Madison took this photograph and if double clicked, 4 faces can be seen peeking out from the rock. Can you find them?

A Fight for Life

The thin gown clung to her damp skin as a trickle of perspiration dripped between her breasts. She glanced at the rocky cliff wall searching the wizened old faces carved in rock and weathered over the years by wind and rain in hope of gaining enough strength to continue. A violent wave of excruciating pain struck her body leaving her weak and nauseous. She felt as though her insides were ripping apart.

“Now push!”

She bore down and pushed her baby boy into the world.

In the photo of the Sepulveda bluffs taped on the wall, the old men seemed to smile.

 Cherished Love

They had met at this picturesque spot many years ago. The morning light had set her azure blue eyes glinting like waves on the distant shore. With the touch of a simple handshake electricity coursed through his being and their souls entwined.

He looked at the rock formation and his throat closed up as he gazed in wonder at the ancient looking faces that had survived thousands of years. He had prayed for just one more. He opened the jar of ashes and released her into the gentle breeze.

“I love you!” he cried.

Can you see the faces? What do they seem to be saying to you?

Do You Believe in VS Angels?

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The first time I was in a Victoria’s Secret, I purchased a “gift” for my husband. At that time the store appealed to adult women and the lingerie could be quite bawdy.  I chose a see-thru push-up bra “teddy” with a killer thong. Later that evening, during a lovely candlelit dinner, I found the undergarments so uncomfortable even I couldn’t wait to get home to take them off!

Over the years, VS has transformed their image to appeal to a younger crowd. Whenever I have crossed their threshold to buy a gift for my daughter, the salesgirls looked at me as if I was an ancient relic since I am the age of most of their mothers. I have to admit to having a drawer full of bikini and French cut undies, but only one thong “won” at a silent auction. Whenever I have considered buying their tiny panties, I would pick one up to examine it, shake my head, and set it back down into the bin of other colorful tiny panties. Since it is usually the first display in their store, I have always left before making my way to the bras.

One night my husband and I were invited to a party. I flipped through the dresses in my closet and found one I had been too shy to wear because of its plunging neckline. Realizing that décolletage is very much in style, I stuffed my push up bra, took a deep breath and slipped on the dress. I joined my now wide-eyed husband, held my head high and didn’t look down. Once I arrived, I received a few comments relating to the fact that I had exposed my curves.

“In order for me to have any cleavage at all, I need to stuff these pads into my bra.” I fished them out to show my girlfriends.

My more knowledgeable friend said, “They should look like this!” She grabbed either side of my boobs, pushed them together and continued, “All you need is a Victoria’s Secret bra. They have one that really smooshes them together.”

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Well enough said. The following week, I crept into a VS filled with teenagers and twenty-somethings as usual. With hip-hop music blaring, I scanned the predominantly pink space for the elusive bra. A youthful blonde salesclerk asked, “Are you looking for something in particular?”

I looked around not sure if she had been addressing me since the store was packed with shoppers. “A bra that smooshes my boobs together,” I responded quoting my friend.

“Do you want one that makes you 2 sizes larger?” she said rather loudly.

“No,” I replied and instantly my face heated up like a stove burner on a high setting. “I would just like some cleavage,” I mumbled.

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“I think you are looking for our ‘Very Sexy’ bra.” After showing me a few wild patterns and colors, I settled on an unadorned black bra. It looked harmless enough.

I stepped into the fitting room and took off my t-shirt and sweater. I looked at myself topless in the mirror and thought, “Don’t expect miracles. I’m over 50 years old and nursed both children. Even when I was in my twenties, my breasts were never perfect.” I couldn’t find an adjustment for the straps, so I assumed they had been let out already. I know that my breasts have slid down my chest a bit since I was a teenager, but I could barely get the straps over my shoulders. “Ouch!” I thought, “They must want them really short to force women’s breasts up to their neck! Jeez! No amount of cleavage is worth this amount of pain.”

When I marched out of the fitting room, the clerk working with another customer asked, “How did you like it?”

“The straps are way too short for me,” I said as I handed her the tortuous contraption.

I felt her restrained eye-roll when she responded, “All of our bras are adjustable.” She simply slipped both straps out and handed it back to me with a tilt of her head and a smile as she spun around to continue with the other shopper.

Now my cheeks really burned, but I turned around and paced back in to the dressing room for round 2. I could almost hear the bell ring.

With the straps at the proper length (Duh!), I put on the bra and looked into the mirror. That is when I had a moment when the pounding music ceased, an intense spotlight enveloped me from above and angels (Victoria’s Secret Angels?) began to sing “Aaaaaahhhhh!”

‘Oh, my God!” I remarked out loud as I smiled at my reflection in the full length mirror. I looked good. No I looked great! Amazing!

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An actual Victoria’s Secret Angel 

I floated out of the dressing room to the register and made my very first personal Victoria’s Secret purchase since the early 1990’s.

Driving home it occurred to me that these bras are wasted on the young. As some women over 40 know, our baggy, saggy, skin can be molded into whatever shape Victoria wants. Our aging breasts just need direction and encouragement. All we have to do is bend over and tuck them in.

The VS image has changed drastically from its inception in 1977. Roy Raymond started the company to make it comfortable for men to buy lingerie for their lady friends. Every bra company tried to knock off the Wonderbra after it was designed in the 1990’s. The VS Miracle Bra quickly took the lead leaving its competitors in the dust and now I know why.

I think that Victoria’s Secret should change its image once again, this time to include a wider range of consumers. In the future, commercials could air with stylish middle-aged ladies modeling the bras. Christy Brinkley could come out of retirement along with Cheryl Tiegs, Iman, and Cindy Crawford. What about Helen Mirren? Some report she is 63 years old and others say 66, but either way she won the “Body of the Year” award in LA! And why stop there? What about a runway show?  Replace Justin Timberlake and Black Eyed Peas with Sting or Mick Jagger! They can help us “bring sexy back” too!

This could be revolutionary. All women could benefit. It could also triple the amount of money Victoria’s Secret makes annually.

The next time you are strolling by VS hold your head high and enter the pink store.  Elbow your way through the crowd of teenagers and pick out something fun to try on. Maybe the Victoria’s Secret Angels will sing to you!

What do you think of the VS image?

Do you think it should change to be more inclusive?

First photo by S. Lindau, the rest from Victoria’s Secret

10 Things You Can Do Before It’s Too Late!

August is the only month out of the year that makes my stomach tighten. Each day shortens by 2 minutes towards the fall equinox as the sunlight streaks at a slightly lower angle turning the sky a deeper shade of blue. Time seems to spring to action, slipping away at a quicker pace like the March hare and I can almost hear his pocket watch tick-tocking long after he has disappeared down the rabbit hole.

Soon the rumble of yellow busses filled with excited children anticipating another school year will replace the jingle of ice cream trucks. My house will be empty again as my children move into new apartments and begin their fall semester in college.

When I gaze out at my verdant back yard, a prism of colors dance in the summer sun. I realize after months of frenzied growth, the trees will soon be stripped bare and all the plants will begin to yawn, then fall asleep, hibernating until next spring.

Instead of letting it all slip through my fingers like the white sand of the Aruban beach we visited this summer, I am taking charge of what time I have left and am making a list. Not just an ordinary list of things to do like edge the lawn before it creeps so far into my garden beds the flowers are suffocated in their sleep, pull the weeds whose roots seem to go to China, or give the hedges a haircut since their geometric shape has taken on a dreadlock appearance. What I am talking about is:

A List of Things to Do before Summer Ends

#1.  Open up the windows in the early morning and let the last of the summer sunshine in! There is nothing like filling the house with fresh air as the sun rises. The dewy ground will prevent the dust from blowing in as well. Make sure to use screens. You don’t want to wake up in the middle of the night to a strange buzzing in your ear or worse, the flapping of bat wings!

#2. Go on a bike ride. Even if you don’t go far, you will get some exercise, take in the green summer vistas, and fill your lungs with the fragrance of summer’s flowering gardens. You don’t have the leg power? Rent a bicycle-built-for-two and find a muscular partner to take up the helm!

#3. Go on a stay-cation if not in your own town, one nearby. Check out the sites and museums in your area online and then explore a couple. Afterward, treat yourself to lunch or dinner (preferably outside), like you would if you were on a real vacation. Unless you brown bag it on your vacations. Then live large.

#4. Have a meal al fresco. Pretend it is the 1800’s. Go to a park, spread a tablecloth over the lush grass and use real silverware, plates and glasses. Pack some hors d’oeuvres, finger sandwiches, and cake for dessert. Pop a cork and toast to this summer’s bounty. Bring your badminton set, bocce ball, croquet, horseshoes, or jarts. Warning – Do not aim at your opponent’s leg even if he/she is beating you!

#5. Find a shady spot near a lake, river, or pool and read a book or magazine. When my children were young, I used to take them to a swimming pool for a couple of hours. They would play in the cool water where they would wear themselves out in front of a watchful life guard while I had some “me” time. I can still have some “me” time, can’t I? Hey, I might even cannonball in to cool myself off too!

#6. Trek someplace new. My husband and I recently took a hike called North Ten Mile in Frisco, Colorado. This summer has been so unusually cool and wet the growing season has been shortened. We encountered wild flowers blooming like a psychedelic carpet on the forest floor. The only problem is it continues to be wet, so we had to sprint back down to the car to prevent being struck by lightning.

#7. Go to a farmer’s market and buy fresh produce, and then prepare a dinner of roasted vegetables, pasta, and fresh salad. Pretend you are in a scene from a book written by Peter Mayle or Francis Mayes.

#8. Pack a picnic basket and go to an outdoor concert. There is still time! Check your local listings for a schedule.  Out here in Boulder they run until the end of August. This is a great way to see old friends and make new ones! Just don’t be that rocker who frolics in front of the stage thinking you should be the next contestant on, “So You Think You Can Dance.”

#9. Go out stalking. Capture summer on film so you can enjoy your memories throughout the winter months. You don’t need an expensive camera to do this. Just point, shoot and then share your photos with your family and friends! Don’t take stalking too far and photograph your neighbor sunbathing on a lounge chair.

#10. Attend a summer festival. Live like a kid again and buy a brat, a hotdog, or a grilled ear of sweet corn. Then kick back and relax absorbing everything it has to offer. Usually local bands play as you saunter by art and craft shows. Bring some antacids in case you “eat” like a kid again.

This should keep you busy until the days grow short and the air turns crisp. Oh, look at the time! I need to open a window, ride my bike to the museum, eat a picnic lunch, relax near the lake and read a book for a while, take a hike, stop at the farmer’s market to pick out fresh vegies for dinner, and then attend this evening’s concert. I will carry my camera in my pocket so I can record the last day of summer’s events. That should do it. Whew! After the festival I attend this upcoming weekend, I will begin my list for fall which begins at 9:04 AM on September 23rd!

Do you have any plans for the last days of summer?

Photos by S. Lindau