Bike-Centric

We took the week away from work to get over that jet-lag thing and to begin processing “this is life without Aunt Bobby” as my SIL was known to her nieces, nephews, and grands. We took the time to read, cook, walk dogs, ride bikes, add amendments to our vegetable beds, plant more Veronica among the flags on the front walk pathway, and re-set the solar path lights.

In the next couple of weeks we’ll sow seeds and plant starts for our winter vegetable and flower gardens. I’m excited to change the local cat toilet into something that will be both aesthetically pleasing and will also provide food.

So we slept in this morning (again!!!), missed our shot for a quick  bike ride, walked the dogs, and went downtown to fulfill our commitment to volunteer as course marshalls for the Vacaville Gran Prix.

After a hiatus it was restarted in 2006, and as members of the Monticello Cycling Club, we volunteered. We’ve volunteered every year until 2014, when we were in TX burying C’s dad (and subsequently celebrating his amazing life). Every year is different — different corners, different volunteer coordinators, different timing (when there’s a crash and a rider needs to be taken to hospital by ambulance, that backs up the subsequent races). One year we didn’t get our free lunch — by the time we got to Pure Grain they’d run out of sandwiches, and 2 years we didn’t get T-shirts. As a volunteer I count on free food and clothing as inducements to wave a flag and yell at stupid people who don’t understand bike racing.

This year we packed snacks, extra water, and sunscreen, which I forgot to put on my feet, resulting in a tacky tan. Oh, well…at least my feet are tan (thanks to many hours spent on our front yard make-over; otherwise they’d be white) and that’s the way it goes.

I forgot my cowbell so I yelled and cheered a lot. As the afternoon wore on the races were faster, so I yelled, “Riders up!” about every 2’45” as the men’s Pro/1/2 race came by. We were at a very active car & pedestrian crossing so there were few dull moments. I’ll guess that 99% of the non-bike people with whom we dealt were very cool about it all. All the cycling people were — I loved how some of the P/1/2’s rode back to thank us for volunteering. That felt good.

The volunteer coordinators and race people, who’ve we’ve known for nearly a decade, were especially appreciative, and we were happy to contribute to a local event that benefits cycling, racing, Vacaville (who raced and ate here before they drove home), and gives us the opportunity to pay back the sport that provides us so much.

Now I start my training for Esparto TT — after 2 years off,  I’m ready for a 30KM pain cave.

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A Roller Coaster Ride Featuring No Theme Park

A Roller Coaster Ride Featuring No Theme Park.

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A Roller Coaster Ride Featuring No Theme Park

Last August we flew to Austin, TX, to meet our daughter (and later, our son), and drove to Corpus Christi because Chris’s dad passed. The occasion was sad and ironically happy at the same time. As much as we all mourned his passing, we reveled in the stories that this character provided, and he was an independent, opinionated sonofabitch (no reflection on his mother, who I never met).

The wake we had afterward was unprecedented. He wanted no mourning of his passing, so the ensuing libations and story sharing was exactly as he would have wanted. We enjoyed the stories, the reconnecting with family whom we see far too infrequently, and being able to comfort his grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Our adult kids made new, mature connections with cousins they hadn’t seen in a couple decades.

This past week — last Monday, in the early hours on the Left Coast — we received word that C’s middle sister, the caretaker, the SIL who taught me how to be a SIL and had so many humorous insights into family relationships and cats, passed. When T, my youngest sister, was here in May, C got the call that his sister had stage 4 pancreatic cancer with tumors on her liver (and who knows where else; that’s where they stopped looking). She retired in May; she and her husband had plans to travel and do all the things they couldn’t do with the 2 weeks of vacation that their jobs afforded previously.  Four days before she died she celebrated (and I use the term loosely; she was failing and knew it; how does one celebrate that) her 63rd birthday.

And then she died.

Her children were in denial (one was 150+ miles away, the other <5 miles but was too self-absorbed to be involved) and that showed in how they handled the funeral mass and subsequent activities.  To their credit, their mother would let no one come see her, including her own mother, her siblings and her son & daughter.

Sidebar: By her exclusion of her family from visiting her and holding her hands, hugging, crying, praying over her, etc., she effectively prevented these people, her family, her kin, the people who knew her the best, the opportunity for closure and to say goodbye. She probably didn’t consider how difficult that’s going to be for them going forward. What we saw and heard at the funeral, the internment ceremony, and at the celebration of life, as well as at the family gathering later Friday evening, is that her children and grandchildren and siblings are left with many questions, frustrations, and sadness at not being able to make peace before she passed. I know C, M and I are.

I hope they all seek grief counseling so they can be freed of whatever guilt they feel, and learn to incorporate D’s death into their lives.

My oldest SIL and hubby are worried: They and their mother are the only family members left. And my MIL isn’t 100% aware of what’s going on; she was very fluid in her past memories and her recent memories. I, for one, am glad she’s in as assisted living facility. She gets her meds, her activities, her privacy, her outings, and she doesn’t have to remember details that she can’t. I guess that’s a function of age. I wish her grandchildren and families would visit her more, and I can harangue them, but ultimately I can’t force or guilt them into any action, dagnabbit. I wish I could. My MIL needs to be with her family and extended family and the activities in which their involved. That stimulation will keep her alive and relevant. The nearest child, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren will ultimately fail her.

And that’s why I’d consider moving to Corpus Christi, to take my MIL away from her facility a few times a week, so she can adapt to new situations and not be trapped in that place. And yet she doesn’t feel trapped, so who am I to impose my perception of her living arrangments?

All this makes me glad my and C’s wishes are spelled out in excruciating detail  in our trust. I might be a control freak (okay, yes, I am) but it’s worth while if you have specific wants after you can’t make decisions.

And I miss my SIL, my FIL, and am grateful for my SIL M, and my  MilL. I hope they realize, blog, Facebook or real-life exchange, what they mean to me.

I’m sad for my husband, his mother, oldest sister and middle sister’s husband: I hope they find peace.

I miss her already. RIP, Deborah Lynn Mary Margaret Doyle. I hope you know how many lives you impacted and how you are missed.

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In Which Life Jumps Us and Flips the Bird

In Which Life Jumps Us and Flips the Bird.

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In Which Life Jumps Up and Flips the Bird

So yesterday we had plans for our trip; we organized who was going to water the inside plants and they’d review what was happening in both the front and back yards.

That all screeched to a halt when we learned very early this morning that C’s next-oldest sister, who was diagnosed with pancratic cancer a couple months ago, despite some chemo treatments that wiper her out, passed. Damn. She went downhill fast.

My maternal grandmother, her sister, my mother, my father all died of cancer or secondary illnesses due to cancer. Now my SIL. I have no words to describe how I feel about that, except “Daaaaaaaaaayum!” And that just scratches the surface.

Eff #cancer and let’s keep working for a cure. It is the worst.

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August — A Month in Which I Notice Things

August — A Month in Which I Notice Things.

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August — A Month in Which I Notice Things

For one thing, the Tour de France is over, and I miss hearing Phil Leggett’s and Paul Sherwin’s voices and turn of phrase (“…and he packed his suitcase of courage…”) (“….it’s akin to bashing about the head with a rolled-up newspaper…”). You invest 21 days of recording, riding around the TdF schedule, watching, sometimes re-watching especially compelling segments and you invest so. much. time. And then it’s gone.

So then it dawns on my that I have so many hours available to ride my bike, instead of watching Le Tour. So I ride at every opportunity — commuting to my Assoc. of REALTORS weekly marketing meetings, touring broker open houses after the meeting, riding to the office, riding early in the morning, trying hang onto a fast group ride at the end of the day (that pizza and wine and socializing [that means dissecting the ride] afterwards adds to the charm of the ride that leaves you heaving and gasping and sore and improving your fitness in ways that you won’t know for days).  A solo midday hill workout. Whatever. Riding and riding and hammering, getting shelled, bridging, appreciating those who help you catch the group.

As a result, my mileage and sufferscore are well increased over June & July. And tonight I’m feeling it. A high pressure system moved into our area Friday night, which caused wind shift and heat increase. Smoke from fires NW of us moved into our area yesterday, cleared out a bit overnight, so today’s ride had smoke but not as bad. And the heat…90* at 10 a.m. 105* at 3. Higher at 5 p.m. So today’s shop ride was hot, fast, and asthmatic. I worked hard for 23+ miles before I couldn’t sustain the pace — not enough lung to keep up. I debated using my inhaler. I thought long & hard. And decided against it. If I used it, and it opened up my lungs, that meant I could go faster, harder, and breathe in more ash, which would set off my asthma. So, no.

Still averaged 17.2 mph over 43 miles. And that was just the start of the day.

Vacation looms; we’ve been under pressure to find and fix a leak in the 10 yr. old irrigation system in the backyard, which we tag-teamed yesterday and fixed. And that entire front yard is on 2 (eventually 3) drip systems, which C put right today. We have some die-off from both under-watering and over-watering. I hope the week+ we’re away will rectify that.

Our social schedule looms as well: Friends with whom we dine every Friday missed 8/15; we’ll miss the next one, they’ll miss the one after. We’re so used to hanging our that we decided 8/17 will be the night we go out and hang out. Since we’re slight on food, that works.

And we reserved bikes in Brooklyn to do the Cruiser Tour, so my HRM and my Garmin will travel with me so I can record the ride. Because why not?

August began on a semi-sad note and is finishing on a high note. Color me happy.

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