Of course it’s the Tour de France that takes precedence here, and well it should. Some years I lose mileage because I skip group rides to watch the tour.  Some years I stay up way too late, watching the stage we recorded. Some years we read spoilers and don’t watch the recording. And some years I ride my bike, handle business, and watch Le Tour while eating dinner.

This is one of those years, where I don’t pass on a ride and enjoy the rides I take. There’s fire nearby; I’d post pics but am still hamstrung in that department. Otherwise I’d post pics of our dramatic drought-tolerant #waterwise front yard reno.

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Long Weekend Wrap-Up & Front Yard Transformation

I still don’t know how to post photos here and I’m frustrated by that — not everyone who reads this is a Facebook friend, where most of my photos go (they’re also on Twitter and Tumblr, if you’re interested. I’m @musclegal on Twitter, and lifescycles on Tumblr. Check them out if you have a few spare minutes. TIA). The front yard went from huge tree roots and dead grass and volunteer Gazania to topsoil, rock wall, and 2 mossrock raised beds for veggies and the like. Anastasia, our son’s SO and professional floral designer & landscaper, spent the weekend with us, and we now have a solid plan in place. She and he will come back in a couple weeks and help us plant the drought-tolerant plants we agreed on. Between now and then Chris will install the irrigation and we’ll buy plants.

We so enjoyed our time with her, not only to get to know her on a deeper level, but also to further get why our son is over the moon for her. That’s certainly easy to discern; she’s lovely, honest, and genuine, and she loves him. That’s enough for me. I learned from Nancy, my MIL (the Queen of MILs, IMNTBHO), how to be supportive and positive and mostly, non-interfering. It’s fine to have an opinion, just don’t foist it on the couple. So far I think I’m doing fine. I love that both our adult children (oxymoron, much?) have found their soulmates and are moving forward and deepening their relationships with their SOs. We want our kids to have what we have, and although that might look a lot different than our relationship, we trust that they’ll figure out what they want and work on that with the SOs. We have tiny crushes on their SOs, and that helps. In my head I want them to reproduce because I crave babies from my babies and being a grandmother and all that, and if that happens, yay! If it doesn’t, and they’re still really happy and fulfilled in their relationships, yay! Their happiness and satisfaction with their lives is what matters the most.

Saturday, July 4th, we spent a lot of time finalizing what we want to plant. I wasn’t 100% convinced that A’s ideas were what I wanted, but once she printed out our shopping list, complete with colored pictures of the plants, I believe it will work. It’s similar to being the stoker on a tandem: trust your captain, and if you doubt, Lamaze-breathe until you’re proven wrong or right. It will be just fine.

We had time between finalizing the planting and the meal we were going to share with our friends, during which Chris rotisserie the ribs (a first) with a new glaze (another first), so we went to BevMo, for wine tasting. We spent a couple hours there: We like the host, Alan, very much. And as the afternoon progressed we realized we had 3 native Californians, a Texan, a New Jerseyian (sp), and Danish, French, Lebanese and Russian immigrants. Listening to them share their journeys to the US from their native countries was fascinating. Hearing why they chose the US, and California specifically, was amazing. I gained a new respect for our awesome nation, as well as for those folks’ bravery and willingness to upend their lifestyles and adopt a new culture and lifestyle. They may not read this blog to know how much I respect them, so I’m glad I called that out and toasted them, with little plastic cups filled with Napa wines.

Life is good. Really good.

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United Airlines: Stop Bouncing People Out of Reserved Seats


I’ve had bad experiences with United but nothing this bad, or consistent.

Originally posted on Kellblog:

Dear United:

Just when I thought you couldn’t get worse, you have managed to again perform well below expectations.  How?

I now believe that you have a deliberate policy to bounce low-tier flyers from reserved Economy Plus seats.  How do I know this?

  • I am a relatively high-tier United flyer, happily achieved not through flying you much anymore, but through legacy status as multi-million mile flyer.  With that status, you treat me just barely well enough for me to think about flying on your airline on competitive domestic routes.  (Though I avoid your international business like the plague.)  You may have noticed I dropped from flying about 100-150K miles/year to maybe 30K/year as a result of changing to alternatives like Virgin America.
  • My wife, however, is a low-tier United flyer.   The way you treat her is simply appalling and quite possibly illegal.  One purpose of this blog is to highlight the myopia of your CRM…

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Reflections on Recent Visitors

Last month my youngest sibling, my baby sister with whom I’m closest of all of my siblings, spent a week with us. We had so much fun — riding bikes, scampering from wine-tasting to wine-tasting up and down the Napa Valley, to hiking the Tower at Lagoon Valley, and walking the dogs & catching up.

On Monday my husband’s oldest sister, her husband and their daughter-in-law landed. We toured Old Sacramento ( they’re recreationists and love history), spent time at V. Sattui and St. Helena, explored Muir Woods & the Marin Headlands, spent several hours at the Heirloom Cafe with our son and his SO. Today we scuttled plans to drive to Drake’s Bay and hiked to the tower at Lagoon Valley and had a picnic lunch afterward. So low-key and so much fun.

The visits from family & friends this year have been so fun: we see our everyday scenery through new eyes, and sharing #NorCal with them is always gratifying and fun for us — we love their positive reactions, as well as our renewal of why we live here.

We love having family and friends stay with us — they are unfailingly helpful (we always appreciate the offer of payment or labor, whether or not we need it, and often take them up on their offers), aware of overstaying their welcome (only 1 person has taken advantage of our hospitality and overstayed her leave in our 17 years in #NorCal). And we love to take off work and revisit places we love, as well as exploring new places, with them. They’re agog with their first look at, say Muir Woods, and we’re happy to see those awesome redwood forests again.

This year has been so full — and it’s only June!

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Observations on Bike Riders

Observations on Bike Riders.

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Observations on Bike Riders

So tonight our usual group had other plans — a couple were riding the Eastern Sierra, others were watching the Golden State Warriors trounce the Cleveland Cavaliers (go Dubs!), so a motley group showed up at the shop. Right away there were two groups: Those who are beginners and those able to hold a wheel at 25 mph.

We rode to the shop, and the ride started nearly 20 min. late. The shop manager decided early on to take two newbies on a slower, shorter route. The rest of us were kind of on our own; our erstwhile leader was dropped early on.

So Chris ended up pulling both the two riders that the shop mgr. was to pull. One of them is eager to learn tips and tricks to ride more efficiently and faster; the other, who has been riding for a year now and hasn’t changed any of her habits, thus she’s not much better of a rider than she was when she started.

We ride occasionally with another wine/horse/bike person, who has done some very challenging rides in the past but lately has lost bike fitness and doesn’t seem to care. When we ride with her (and usually another mutual horse/bike/wine friend) we know that we’re going to drop her, go back or wait for her, and thus she dictates the ride. She has no desire to improve her cycling.

We both find this aspect of these two people very frustrating. We love sharing our passion with others, whether that translates into helping someone over a hill, or offering a pull into a headwind, or being a domestique in a bike race. As long as that person is open to the coaching, we’re happy to help.

OTOH, those who expect us (and others) to pull them around a ride, who expect us to wait for them, and refuse any and all advice, despite their wanting it, make me want to smack my head. What’s the point? Why go out and ride every ride the same way? If one doesn’t change every ride one will never adapt to different conditions.

So after tonight, after C spent so much time hauling a willing learner & a non-willing learner over 20 miles, and red-lining to catch me, and some discussion between us on the ride home, we’ve decided we’re not going to be bike patsies anymore. Those people who don’t want to improve — you’re on your own. Those that do want to improve, and demonstrate that improvement — you’re welcome to sit on our wheels until you decide to pass us and pull us. Thanks! We appreciate that very much.

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Monday, Monday

So the predicted temps were 100+. Yesterday we saw that, only they weren’t predicted. Hot is hot is hot, so whatever, weatherpredictors/meteorologists. I believe what I see my Outback’s temperature recording.

This morning, early, The Mister & I agreed on a game plan: Shut the vents & shutters to the rooms we don’t use. Supplemental watering, check. Shades/shutters closed downstairs, check. When I left the house (a third time) at 3:45 it was 101*. When I came home at 7 it was 104*. I kind of dread and love tomorrow’s club ride. It’ll be hot, and we’ll hate & love it, and relish the salt scrub when we shower.

Let’s see if the cooling trend happens, and if it rains (thanks, Hurricane Blanca, in advance) on Wednesday. We had an unusually cool May, so the heat is overdue and even welcome. Stray rain from the Baja? Yes, please!

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