Friday, November 28, 2014

No more bike trails, but the bike shop still keeps hopping.

     Even though my outdoor riding season is over, the bike Co-op is still hopping.  In the winter months they continue to work on bikes and many people continue to use their bike as their form of transportation year round.

      In the summer I had heard that they teach classes during the winter months on how to build a bike from the ground up.  I've learned so much about the mechanics of my bike, but if I actually learned how to build one, I would be prepared for anything.

     Take a look at all of these bikes.  Most of them were donated needing repairs, and like the island of misfit toys, all they need is a little TLC to make some individual's life easier.

      Many kind hearted  people volunteer their time to get these bikes in working order for those who may be financially strapped, and I'm told that all of these bikes will be placed with in the year.

     The bikes below have already been repaired and are waiting for new homes now.

          When I went to the bike shop they informed me that the classes were postponed for a while, so I guess I'll have to wait. In the mean time the bike shop is a great place for me to work on personalizing my bionic leg.  The paint fumes can be very toxic and outside is no longer an option. Since my brace is carbon fiber, which a lot of bikes are made of, I figured a bike shop would be the perfect place to  spray paint it.

     I have the spray paint ready to go and my riding buddy who also happens to be crafty has already made the stencils. However, there are two stencils, the pink frog and the green helmet, and that makes this a two part process, so timing is key.  But I want it done right and I know we'll get it done sooner or later:)

Have a great weekend!!


Wednesday, November 26, 2014

The queen of improvision is at it again...

     So riding my bike inside isn't as easy as simply bringing it in.  First it had to be put on the trainer, and I figured I could use the bike mat and my yoga mat together for extra cushion for my yoga, strength training and riding, by simply moving the bike on and off.

     True, this bike weighs nothing by it's self, however if you strap it on a trainer it feels like it weighs 200 pounds.  There was no way I wanted to keep moving it every other day to fit my workout.  I had to re-configure it.

        Once I separated the two mats I finally felt like I had the perfect system for alternating my workout routine.

     One thing I never considered was that the computer on my bike calculates the speed and mileage on the front tire, which doesn't move.  Do you have any idea how boring and confusing it is to ride a stationary bike not knowing how fast or far you're going??

     So the computer had to be moved to the back tire.

        The computer had to stay on the handle bars but the cable had to be stretched and secured all the way to the back, with no room to spare.

         The next snafu was discovering the bar in the back was thinner than the front and this little black circle on the spoke has to make contact with the sensor on the bar but barely skim it, and that required some more improvising.  

     Luckily I had a spare yoga mat, and after some brain storming I figured I could cut a strip off the end of the purple mat and form a barrier to allow the two to make the exact contact.

        This indoor riding proves to be more complicated than I thought, but it just goes back to that old saying... Where there's a will, there's a way:)

Have a great day!!


Monday, November 24, 2014

First Confession, now Therapy??

     A while back I told you going to my Orthotist is like going to confession. Well my hairdresser is also my therapist.  How's that for getting your moneys worth.  I've been going to the same hair dresser for 18 years and It all started when I had a coupon for a free haircut.

     Almost two decades later and here I am following her when she moved clear across town.  But to be honest, I don't even care how she cuts my hair; I just say "cut it".  Who knows, she may not even cut it but it really doesn't matter.

     The last time I went I did tell her to cut it a little shorter, since the bike riding season is over I no longer needed to pull it back.  I think subconsciously I wanted to see what a "real haircut" was like.  In hindsight maybe a little longer was a better idea because now I find myself still pulling it back, but now I have to do some creative work with clips and spray and the end result is exactly the same.

     maybe someday I'll just get a buzz cut and save myself the aggravation, but for now I guess I'll just keep telling her to just dust the ends.  After all, the real reason I get my hair cut is to see my BFF, who is better than any Therapist I know:)

Have a great day!!


Friday, November 21, 2014

Thanksgiving's not even here, but the snow is; lets just skip to Christmas!

     I think I've mentioned before that I'm not a fan of cold weather or snow.  As someone who has become totally obsessed with bike riding and turns into a tin soldier in the cold, this winter weather, with very early snow and freezing temps will make the next few months feel like "forever".

     True, Thanksgiving hasn't even come yet, but this snow makes me want to jump right past it and on to Christmas.  I have never started decorating until after Thanksgiving in years past, but I just have to start inching my way into a winter wonderland. 

     It's way too early for the tree, or at least the typical Christmas tree.  But if we have to have snow then it surely wouldn't hurt for me to get out my snow globe with my tiny little tree; it's not much but it's a start, and I'm already starting to feel like I can get through this long, cold snowy Winter.

        But where there is snow there are snowballs... So the first little decoration to inch it's way to the surface snowballed into other "tiny" little additions to keep it company.

     Since I love frogs, I had to have a Christmas frog to accent the tree.  Slowly but surely this tree is beginning to fit in.

     But why stop at one frog??  They say in decorating, things should be grouped in threes.  This frog needs a friend.

      It's amazing how visual things can sometimes help us get through challenging times.  I'm sure most would say "I don't get it", but for me it's the simplest things that spark warm memories, and if this winter is anything like the last, we're going to need all the warmth we can get:)

     Believe me, if I could have weather that allowed me to ride my bike year round I would be happier than a pig in mud.  But since snow is inevitable right now, my stubborn Scorpio attitude will just have to do what ever it takes to  make life interesting, and I can do it... just watch me;)

Have a great weekend!!


Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Too Cold, Too Soon; I'm outta here!!


     I swear I don't remember ever having snow on my birthday or bone chilling temps, but this year I did...We were flirting with a record low, 10 degrees, yikes!!   So I decided the best birthday present I could give myself was a trip down south.

     With my birthday being close to the holidays a flight would be almost impossible, and the plane ticket it's self would practically put me into bankruptcy.  But come February, when the rest of Ohio is saying "how much longer until spring??", I can have that belated birthday present to look forward to.

     My cousin Keith and his wife live in Fort Myers Florida, and for quite some time I've been saying I should go down and visit them "someday".  Well, as we all know, "someday" never happens, so I had to make it happen.

     The day before my birthday, It was freezing outside, and as I was at work, warm and cozy indoors, I got on the computer and booked my flight.  Now "someday" was gonna happen.

     I haven't flown in over 5 years and a lot of changes have happened in that time.  This is certainly going to be a true test of my survival skills.  I'll be flying for the first time by myself and I'm nervous, yet excited at the same time.  

     My flight will be direct, the two airports are small and the planes are puddle jumpers, so this should be a great place to start.  I've been leery of the long haul across a huge airport with a million hangers and connecting flights.   With all of my bionic parts and questionable paraphernalia, the security screening could be a real circus act.  But if and when I make it through security at this junior airport I will hopefully be home free (that, or I may be asking Keith to bail me out of some Turkish prison...). 

      As an added birthday present to myself I paid extra to select my seats in advance.  Now I no longer have the fear of being sandwiched between two shady people spilling over into my "middle" seat, in the very back of the plane. I'm going to be in a seat close to the front and comfortably on the isle of a two seat row. That piece of mind was worth every penny spent.

     The only down fall to this February trip is the warning I got from Keith when I told him my tickets were purchased.  He told me that back in January, 2010, when they moved there, a friend drove down with them to help with the move.  The day his friend left to come up north it was 70 degrees as he boarded the plane.  When he arrived in Ohio it was a mere 3 degrees and the TSA practically had to use the jaws of life to pry him out of the plane:)  I'll take my chances!

     I've done several things out side of my comfort zone as I've gotten older, and this trip is just one more challenge to add to the list.  My cousin did tell me we would be very busy while I'm down there.  Now, I'm not sure if that meant he was putting me to work or if we were doing some exciting/scary things during my stay.  I really don't want to know because no advance warning means the less time I have to talk myself out of it.

     Who knows, after I conquer this challenge I might finally be ready to move on to the big girl airports:)

Have a great day!!


Monday, November 17, 2014

The best birthday present!

        Normally, I would be celebrating another year of survival and embracing one year older, and I am so glad to be 52.  But today I get to share the celebration with my new grandbaby; Connor Lee!  Saturday, my daughter, Emily and her husband Billy, made me a proud grandma for the second time.  Now my two little guys, William and Connor are the love of my life.

     Big brother, William sees all of the baby things out again and looks at it as re-visiting his early days; he has no idea that his infant things are now going to be occupied by baby brother Connor.

     It's true what they say; grandchildren are so much fun that  we should have had them first:) My first grandbaby William has proven this. The weekly trips to the mall with my daughter and William are something I really look forward to, and now I'll have one more reason to love Sundays.

    Below is a picture of Connor only minutes old, without a clue as to just how many lives he's about to touch:)  

     I'll be 52 years tomorrow and Connor will be only four days old, and have no idea what life is all about.  But I can't wait to do what Grandmas do better than anyone else, and that's spoil their grandchildren; and hopefully teach them how good life is.

     As a mother we have to teach our kids they can't have everything, but you know that old saying... "If mommy says no, ask grandma;)".

        I've got them covered:)

Have a great day!!


Friday, November 14, 2014

Our Eyes are the window to our soul.

   Today I'm going back in time to one of my first stories I wrote a few years ago, after I discovered my love of writing; this is one of a very early revelation that took a very long time to sink in.

      As you know, I've been talking about all of the inquisitive people I've encountered lately, and a friend mentioned that the reason I have so many people approaching me is that I have the look of an approachable person.  That reminded me of a story I wrote a few years ago about an experience that happened as a child that didn't make sense until many years later.  If you have a few minutes I hope you'll read it and maybe it will make sense to you as well:)

By Christine Kajfasz

     We’re often told that we must make eye contact so that others know we’re listening to them, but I think the reason goes well beyond that.  They say our eyes are the one thing on our bodies that never change, from the day we are born until the day we die.  They are the one constant throughout our life.

     A picture may be worth a thousand words, but it isn't necessarily the words that tell the story.  When we look into a person’s eyes we see beyond their skin, past the clothing they wear to try so hard to impress others with, and straight to the beauty that lies within their soul.  That is the one thing we keep for a life time.

     Back when I was in elementary school, I, like most kids my age, was always worried about being judged.  The things we wore and the things we said, would make a huge impact on how others perceived us.

     When I was in the fourth grade I was chosen be Lucy in the school play “It’s The Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown”.  I was so excited about being selected and I immediately began to think about how I had to dress, all the while making sure I didn't forget my lines.

     The dress I wore was bright red with this cute bow in the back and puffy short sleeves.  My hair was in adorable dark brown pig tails tied with ribbons.  I felt so proud that I was able to depict this fabulous icon.  I began to study my lines in the attempt to have them down to a T and things were going well. 

     In the story, Lucy was going to be a witch for Halloween and therefore, not only did I have to play Lucy, but I also had to play Lucy portraying a witch.  This meant I really had to practice because one mess up would make me the laughing stock of the school.

     As I was going over my lines, the panic set in when I discovered that in one of my lines I had to say “And I’m beautiful”.  I just couldn't say that in front of my classmates.  That was not something I felt I was and to hear me say it, even in acting, seemed ridiculous.  The other kids would surely make fun of me.

     With a lot of thought I figured out a solution.  Lucy had this ugly witch’s mask that she would put on for trick or treating.  If I could just put it on as I was saying those words I wouldn't have to make eye contact with the audience; therefore I wouldn't know what they were thinking.

     The day of the play had arrived and everything was going according to plan, then it came time for me to say those scary words.  I quickly put the mask in front of my face and confidently blurted out “And I’m beautiful!”.  At that point the audience laughed.   I had no idea if it was because of the absurd statement that came out of my mouth, or because it came from the hideous mask I hid behind.  There was no way to know for sure.  Though I was never nominated for an Oscar for my acting, I also never faced any ridicule, so it couldn't have been that bad.

     The next day life went on as usual.  No fingers pointed but no autographs were exchanged either.  I guess when we hide behind a mask, that’s when the prejudice begins.   If we want people to see our true inner beauty we have to let them see our soul.  When we look deep into someone’s eyes that’s when we see that inner beauty.  Our eyes are the window to our soul.

Have a great weekend!!



Wednesday, November 12, 2014

My two favorite things; Chocolate and avocados! How about together?!?

     Two things I'm obsessed with is chocolate and avocados.  I've learned that avocados are one of the healthiest foods on the planet, and I spent a lot of energy trying to come up with ways to make them more interesting.  I even developed my own creation of pico de gallo meets guacamole  and I named "it pico de guac";)  This stuff is "to die for!"

  Chocolate however, contrary to popular belief, outside of being hearth healthy, the fat in chocolate is the wrong kind, and it's a love affair that stays with you and your hips forever.

     But today I'm here with a public service announcement to save anymore avocados from losing their lives unnecessarily. 

     I was watching a cooking show and the chef was actually demonstrating how to make a "healthy" chocolate pudding out of avocados.  I thought I had hit the jackpot!  But in my opinion, the chocolate would cancel out the health benefits of the avocado; I was skeptical, yet intrigued.  If this works, I will have discovered something that would do all but solve world peace!!

     This man added a huge glop of honey ( I swear he must have squeezed that bear for two full minutes), then he added cocoa powder to the concoction and whipped it "forever", and it did look exactly like chocolate pudding.  However, that much honey to disguise the avocado still made me think of hours and hours on the tread mill.

     You know I'm always brainstorming, and my brilliant idea was to replace the honey with Stevia, which is a healthy sweetener (five packets for two avocados was surely enough) and this way I could have my cake and eat it too:)

     You know how they say if it walks like a duck and talks like a duck... well this looked like chocolate pudding but one bite told me it was avocados, disguised as chocolate pudding.

     I was all set to give it to my friend Maryann because she absolutely loves avocados. Maybe she could actually look past the chocolate disguise. I took one more bite and tried to convince myself it was good, but I wasn't feeling it.  I couldn't put Maryann through the torture, and as a result she only got the warning of what not to do...

     Was honey the key??  Who knows... will I try it again... heck no!!  But one thing I learned from this experiment is: if it seems too good to be true, it probably is;)

Have a great day!!


Monday, November 10, 2014

My bionic leg is like walking a dog in the park; an open invitation..

     Yes, I tend to drone on and on about my bionic leg lately, but the thing I'm starting to realize is, my friends will eventually stop asking but it isn't something the general public will ever get used to, and the questions will never quit.  In fact it's kind of like walking a unique breed of dog and everyone stops you to ask about it.

     I was at the mall with my daughter and her baby, and we were getting lunch in the food court.  As I was waiting for my order and actually minding my own business for once (which is rare for me), a man who was also waiting said "that can't be comfortable..."  and after a few friendly words were exchanged he asked me if I was eating in the mall.  I guess people see it as an ice breaker; interesting...

     When I went to vote, the people signing me in asked what happened, and twenty minutes later I had some new BFFs.  

      Then, the greeter (aka loss prevention) at Costco looked down and said "heal well'', to which I said... "thank you:)".  Come on, I can't stop and talk to everyone...

     To all the people who ingeniously tell me it looks like I have a bad leg, It's kind of funny, I would never see some one with braces on their teeth and say "I see you have some crooked teeth" or someone with glasses and tell them their vision must be awful.  I guess they all just want to know what the story is.

     I've resigned to the fact that every stranger I pass will see this thing as a conversation piece, and it really isn't the end of the world.  But one thing I learned is I have to allow about twenty minutes of extra time for every place on my list, because as long as I have this thing there will always be strangers.  And where there are strangers there will certainly be questions.

Have a great day!!


Friday, November 7, 2014

In my mind I'm a super hero...

    For the average person, the biggest dilemma is whether or not to floss, to prevent gum disease.  They decide how much they want to do to preserve their health.

     As soon as I think I'm doing everything possible to prevent my body from falling apart,  I lose sight of preserving all of the mechanical things that help me do this.

     In my mind I'm an awesome athlete!  In fact, I'm a legend in my own mind:)  The problem is, my mind and body don't seem to be on the same page and I sometimes forget that...
     Putting my bike on a trainer so I could keep riding through the winter seemed like a great idea right??  dragging it out of my car and inside by myself... not so much.

     So the day I picked up my trainer the salesman wheeled it out to my car on a dolly.  The box was kind of big; about a two and a half foot square.  But I was sure it would be the perfect size for rolling it end on end from my car to my front door.

     I could have asked for help but this seemed like a no brainer, and I could save my favors for when I "really" needed them.

     This was no problem at all, and as I got to the doorway I knew I had this... until my foot hit the step and sent me flying.   But that's okay, one of my super powers is flying:)  A quick look around and an "I'M OKAY!" (in my head) and all was good.  I just saved myself a favor:)

     What I tend to lose sight of is; I not only have to take care of my body but the gadgets that keep it moving.  My nerve zapper took a bit of a hit but it still worked so all was good.

            I'm still working on getting my turbo leg and bionic leg to work together, and this means shifting electrodes and re-positioning the the two so one doesn't press on the other so I can prevent my leg from losing all feeling.  

        I had an appointment set with my Orthotist at Hanger, and I started to think I may have damaged my zapper because the nob needed to be set higher before I felt the zap.


     Going to my orthotist has become like going to confession, because at this point I had to come clean and admit my carelessness.  

     The good news was I didn't break it, I simply tried to play orthotist and put the electrodes where I randomly thought they should be and that caused the change in settings.  I guess I need to let the professionals do their job and go back to flying, which is my favorite super power;)

Have a great weekend!!


Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Just because it's winter doesn't mean my bike is done.

          Well It's official; the outdoor riding season is over now and my bike has taken up residence indoors.  This trainer might take some getting used to, and I know I'll miss the great view of the parks and trails. The idle chit chat with strangers... if that happens on my trainer I may need to be committed... But I just can't put my bike in storage for the winter.

     Sure, I have my treadmill, yoga and strength training but I can't go backwards with my bike or I'll be starting over next spring.

     Of course, I'll also be getting a workout as I alternate workout routines because my bike is on the black mat and pink yoga mat which is important in preventing static shocks while riding, but I need to move it to do my yoga and strength training.  I should join the circus because this will sure be a juggling act:)

     You can see I wasn't taking it lightly when it came to the trainer I chose.  I certainly didn't want one that wasn't stable.  The front tire is very sturdy as well.  This bike was mounted very securely in place and no matter how much I lean I can't tip this thing.

          The fluid inside the trainer is supposed to make it feel like riding on pavement, but with the lack of outdoor scenery I'll need other things to make the ride interesting; luckily I also have a TV in front of me and music to listen to.  

It's all down hill from here:)

          This certainly won't replace outdoor riding, but it will keep me somewhat conditioned for when I'm back on the roads.  Just think how much I'll appreciate the the great out doors, come spring!!

Have a great day!!


Monday, November 3, 2014

Sterling Park; I finally finished my bucket list!!

Even my face says COLD

      I told you I was gonna do it!! It was nip and tuck until the end, but last Thursday I made it to my final bike trail on my bucket list.

     My plan was to go to Sterling Park on Wednesday, then I  would bring my bike inside, where I'd put it on a trainer for the winter.  I knew that had to be the day because the weather forecast was predicting freezing rain, or maybe even snow for the end of the week.  Oh, and then the time changes on the weekend and we lose an hour of daylight to boot.  It had to happen... 

     Unfortunately, the best laid plans don't always go as planned... The Wednesday ride wasn't able to happen.  Sadly, I was ready to throw in the towel, bring my bike inside and hope for next year.

     But then Thursday came around And I just couldn't let a little cold weather defeat me.  I've bundled up before and I could just think of it as sledding, but on a bike:)

          Looking at the pictures you would think it was still summer, but pictures don't have thermometers, and I'm here to tell you it was a little cold.

        Geography isn't my strong suit but after some research I found out the body of water going through this park was part of River Raisin which feeds into Lake Erie.  How about that... a bike ride and a lesson:)

              My brother has been to this park many times and told me that they actually charge 7 bucks to park your car, and that seemed a little crazy, but paying 7 dollars to make it to my last park on my list was worth it.  However, here was the bonus to going on a bone chilling day; no one was willing to freeze just to collect my money, and that was my consolation prize:)

      As you can see this trail was by no means perfect for training; the cracks and uneven surface made it quite a challenge.  But this ride was about the principle and it was actually kind of nice getting out in the cold brisk air;)

          From this view it seemed as though I was looking out at the ocean from a warm sandy beach, but my frozen nose and ice sickle fingers reminded me that wasn't the case.

         So this is one last look at my bike outside, and after this ride my bike will be nice and cozy indoors.  However, I have to admit this was a true victory ride for me, because I did what I set out to do.  I had a great summer of riding and I'm anxious to find more trails next spring:)

     The next time you see me it will be training from inside where it's warm, and until spring I'm hoping you'll help me continue to build my team for the next MS bike to the bay!!

Have a great day!!