Friday, April 29, 2011

There is this thing about PEZ

Upon my return from my jaunt west I had a package from my friend Richard. He now lives in DC but we first met when we trained together for the Northeast Aidsride. We had a great amount of fun while we both learned the ins and outs of charity events. He was semi-retired at the time, living in CT. Richard and I were like the tortoise and the hare, I would race to get there and burn out along the way, he was steady as it goes and despite the grueling nature of the terrain, he always made it into camp in good shape. He also made an awesome cheesecake which we sampled on occasion after training rides.

Richard and I were part of this team that our friend Peter had put together, team Pez (dispensing hope). Our moto was to always go with the positive. When a rider had a flat we would stop and help out and leave them with a Pez dispenser. We made it a point to stop at every lemonade stand and support the grass roots commerce. Of course we would leave the kids with Pez dispensers. We would stop and talk to the people cheering us on, and you guessed it... I would start my 3 day ride with 30 dispensers and give out 10 a day. We even rode with PEZ on our helmets. It was so enlightening to bestow upon the world this tiny amount of sweetness. 

What does this have to do with the package? Well, Richard has enjoyed reading my adventures and felt he needed to give me some sugar from afar! I came home from Vegas to find two Gieco Lizard Pez dispensers and a lovely note. Richard I can't wait to get back to DC with Kenny to ride with you again! I miss you. 

Tonight I listed one of my pieces on EBAY as a means to raise funds for the Pan Mass Challenge.  My thoughts are that I want people to remember this event when they look at the art work they purchased. I have chosen to ride on team Kermit for many reasons, some in honor of kids like my childhood friend Mike Spano, Jimmy Arena, and Jared Branfman who have died of brain cancer and then the parents who couldn't beat the disease either like my cousin Mark. Then there is the spiritual connection of common dates. Jimmy and Jared died the same day in 2005, my father died the same day in 1982. My dad was a teacher who appreciated the huge lessons that came in little packages. He had a heart of gold, was a superior craftsman and had a great sense of humor. He saw the good in everyone. 

Tomorrow morning will dawn early with a three hour effort on the bike, which will be repeated on Sunday as well. I am hoping to ride with a new group of people with my friend Clare in Stamford on Sunday morning. Pedaling onward and upward yet again! 


Tuesday, April 26, 2011

digging for gold

I had one of those days where I had so much going on that I didn't know if I was coming or going, not a free moment, technically. I taught the full day, worked for 2 hours in the studio, went to a meeting, then a quick ride (30 minutes on my mtn bike), then another meeting. Its 11PM and while I should be in bed, I am trying to get the thoughts out of my head before they threaten to strangle me.

I had a killer day in the studio. Time well spent (pics soon). I was thinking while I was working that I really had to text a friend to ask him if he was working in clay again YET? I was  however so caught up in my own work that I couldn't spare the moment.

I arrived home with 30 minutes to spare, much less than time than I needed so I decided on the MTN bike- the knobby tired tank. I hauled and climbed as much as possible. I arrived home feeling a bit short on my workout, but sweaty just the same. My mantra, 30 minutes was better than no minutes.

Off to a meeting after that. Contemplating tomorrow, which is just as jam packed...though we are off to friends for dinner of Coney's. Looking forward to it!

Monday, April 25, 2011

you sound mentally exhausted....hmmm

I am tired, have been for months now. I think my mom's diagnoses, my son's skating career and the various battles over principles with the federation, my anxiety over another child having a 1K a month nut to pay and only a small prospect of a job that will pay both rent and bills, and my own studio work and cycling workout schedule have me wound up tightly these days. I feel like I am trying to fit the world into one block in an ice-cube tray.

My mom is healing from her surgery, we will find out about her future prognosis and care shortly, but in the meantime, she is battling heart problems, something that she has never had. The medicine is making her miserably light headed and anxious. Chris did not make Cat 1, I cannot explain it, if you look at the rules as they were written he should have had it. He was in the top 6 returning Jrs in 3 distances. Apparently, this year a first year Neo-Senior is still considered a Jr.? I can see why it is so hard to grow this sport, but I am too tired this time to argue it. The way I look at it, its one more season I don't have to answer every move my family makes to USADA despite having nothing to hide. No 9PM drug tests after a necessary pre-bed hydration indulgence that would produce 3 hours of unexpected entertaining because of a unacceptable sample. None of that. Just another season to skate for the sake of skating. Yet, as a parent and a coach that hurts. Anna will graduate from Temple University next month, I am so happy for her, she has done well for herself. My only fear is that she will join the thousands of college students that graduate with no prospects of a job and a 1k/month bill to pay. There is something wrong with our society. We preach the value of education, the necessity of becoming a life long learner, yet we allow the institutions to get away with charging the moon and hand and hand with the bank expecting the stars in return. Temple is a public university and Anna had a good AID and scholarship package just the same, she is starting out with a loan payment that matches most mortgages. Of course Kenny and I will help her in any way we can, and we knew the value of the debt she was getting into but as college educated adults, we could not deny her the experience. Its just an eye opening experience in the lesson of our current economy. My own schedule of school work, studio work and cycling has my head spinning. Its a hard schedule to maintain. It has to slow down. It has to ease up. I am not sure what if anything will give but something has to be rearranged.

Why am I writing about this? My friend Steve said I sounded mentally exhausted, even told me to go eat some ice cream. I followed my mothers timeless advice instead. I went out for a ride, an hour of trying to beat the dusk. I encountered about a half dozen doing the same and imagine a perfect ride where they all are giddy enough to say hello. It happens sometimes. I also encountered a guy who almost ran me over, he was in a tricked out black RX7. He was holding a phone up to his ear. He then stopped short and tried to turn around in a driveway, with that same phone up to his ear while trying to shift gears. He cut me off again. I was thinking you ASS get off the DAMN PHONE only I thought it a bit too loudly. I actually found myself screaming it at him as I almost T-boned him doing 35 mph down a hill. Thank goodness there were people outside to witness the whole encounter. (3 cyclists climbing the hill I was descending and a woman walking her dog) The guys on bikes empathized with me but reminded me I was on two wheels and no match for him, the women walking the dog told me she was thinking the same thing as he came so close to launching me into the tree tops.

I finished my ride, threw in some laundry, did numerous other chores, took a shower, ate a salad and steamed artichokes for dinner, then had my small amount of ice cream, 1/4 cup of Breyers coffee to be exact. Tonight I will relax and think about the chocked full day tomorrow; school, studio, meeting, workout, meeting...I had contemplated riding to work tomorrow morning, get the workout out of the way before my day begins. I still might, but it depends on if I can get my act together in the next hour tonight. Commuting by bike takes a great deal of planning when the day has that much to offer. I didn't think to drop my clothes off at school this morning so if I ride, I have to carry my change of clothing...a heavy chore to say the least. Maybe later this week.

Until next time...I am off to get some rest...

Sunday, April 24, 2011

To the left...

Kenny and I embarked on a quick 5 day break to Vegas with his brother and sister-in-law and his mom. We left on NY Palm Sunday and got the red eye out of Sin City on Good Friday. I am not sure why that is important, there would have been a time, not too long ago that I would not have strayed too far from home during Holy Week. I am not sure how or why that changed or why that fact is even significant to my writing. Maybe it was just an irony that we spent that week in a place referred to Sin City? Who knows.

Upon arriving we were upgraded to the penthouse suite, a 3000 sq. ft. deal with 2 bedrooms, 3/5 baths a dining room, a butler and floor to ceiling windows with expansive views. We hung out at the "adult" pool by day and gambled by night. Kenny and I flew to Cali for lunch with Sandee ( a college friend)  and Tim and their girls. We played at the aquarium and on the beach eventually flew back to Vegas in time for dinner downtown at Tony and Nick's steakhouse. It was interesting to travel sans luggage of any kind and to have a flight take less than 45 minutes or be less than 50. It felt like we were engrossed in this fantasy life of high rolling thrills. Strangely, this vacation was relaxing beyond belief.

We accomplished a great deal, I finished Blood, Bones and Butter,  saw Santana in concert, got dressed up, played in nice hotels, ate breakfast at Hash House A Go-Go where the meal was 12- 14" in Dia and was as tall as it was round. We walked, and walked and walked...and walked. We also took a great deal of cabs, where Harriet's main question was  "So where are you from?". My experience with the book I was reading had me wondering what these guys have seen in there time behind the wheel and for those who were from elsewhere, like a different country, what they did for a living before getting to this "land of in-opportunity and getting stuck here" My guess is that one was a doctor or maybe even a teacher because education and health care were things that he talked about. He was from Africa originally, very eloquent, very well spoken. There was the guy who dropped us at the airport when we headed to Cali who tried to tell us his meter was broken because his check engine light was on. Kenny and I were sure he was going to try to get more from us. The guy backed down when he saw me pull out a pen and paper and appear to write down his tag number. Then there was the PSYCHO guy who texted and drove just because it scared Kenny's mom. There was also this MALITIA from the South Bronx (Morrisania to be exact). He was just short of having me scared that we were going to be held captive if we didn't agree with him. He spoke of politics and the "new civil and very bloody war that was about to occur in this country". I really wish I had grabbed his tag number in case the authorities were looking to implicate a cab driver...

Our red-eye flight home boarded on time, but had mechanical issues as soon as we backed away from the gate. We had to sit in the dark on the tarmac for 2 hours while it was fixed. The flight itself was bumpy and HOT, CRAMPED, and STUFFY. We arrived home at noon or so after a few errands and I proceeded to sleep for the next 20 hours. THe sun got me on Thursday but because we had to vacate the hotel by noon I could not deal with the dizziness and blisters until I got home. The sad part is that I did protect myself with sunscreen, but it seemed to not work as well as it could have. Yes, I did toss it. I think it was old.

Easter was great, though a great deal of the work was done by Kenny. I was still feeling it this morning. I learned that grapefruit added to a mimosa takes the sweetness out of it (thank you Anna). I am not sure if you know how hard it was to be greeted by this first thing in the morning again.

I am left feeling like I needed a vacation from a vacation...I am so tired!

Sunday, April 10, 2011

road kill, hermit caves, day laborers and what happens when an OLD man on a mtn bike when he is passed by a fat chick...

My weekend started on the bike, sort of, actually I woke early on Saturday and spent a long time searching for one of my fairly new pairs of kermit shorts. Obsessed, I looked everywhere, took out almost every stitch of my clothing out and reorganized it. Hoping beyond hope to find this pair of shorts I wore not more than a 1/2 dozen times. UGGGHHH. We had a track meet to get to and now my long ride had just been significantly shortened and I was still stewing about a pair of shorts. I gathered myself and slipped into my "other" kermit gear and out the door I went, almost, I now had another problem, I couldn't find my HELMET. The clock was ticking away, Chris was already in Cornwall and I was now under a major time crunch so off I went, for a quick paced very hilly hour. I hauled until I came across some road kill that needed to be documented that is, some peeps just outside a school driveway, one apparently already run over. I had already ridden down the hill before I decided this so I turned around and rode back up to take the picture. There were some guys doing some work in the parking lot that couldn't understand what I had found alongside the road. They wondered over just as I was taking off for home. I wonder what they thought when they got there.

I raced home, it was late. We live on a hill, and despite anyway you decide to get there, its a 1/2 mile climb. One side is a manageable grade, maybe 8% with a few short pitches of 12%. Then there is the other side, which starts with some undulations then climbs steeply for a 1/2 mile. I chose to climb the steeper side of our hill where there is a short painful section that is considered steep slope (15-18% grade) that has a hairpin at the end of it before it levels out to a more feasible climb. Despite wanting to give up and walk I came to that decision point where the road pitches sharply up and being clipped in one needs to commit or turn around to unclip or face falling over. I decided to commit, after all I hadn't bailed on that hill once in the past seven years, even at my worst, so I wasn't going to start now. There were some neighborhood kids sitting on the grass at the hairpin, in full view of my climb. I was so winded, pushing hard, my HR maxed out, feeling hypoxic. If you could see their faces, it was like they were watching a very funny movie. When I couldn't say hello, just wave, they roared with laughter.

I rolled into the driveway, wheezing. I hit the shower and headed to watch Chris's track meet. He told us he was running at 1, it was not 1:30, but we decided to go anyway. I am so glad we did, he did not run until 5PM. Kenny and I enjoyed the day sitting in the sun on the ADK chairs outside the school waiting and chatting. My only regret was that I could have spent a longer time on my bike after all, maybe even rode out there from home.

After the meet Kenny and I headed south and east, off to the Clay Art Center to catch the opening of Mark Chatterley's exhibition. I was blown away but the magnitude of the work, it was incredible in both scale and concept. Most of the work reached within a foot of the ceiling. It was much larger than life. We visited with the crowd for a bit then headed for dinner. Chris told Kenny to take me to Pat's Hubba Hubba, which he did. All I have to say is that AL, if you are reading this from Dinkytown, this is possibly your rival in the East. Fourteen dollars bought us 2 Texas burgers (chili, onions and cheese on a burger), french fries, onion rings and 2 pepsi's. There were 4 big guys working behind the counter, and I mean big. Every time they had to change places they had to practically go outside. Choreography at its greatest.

This morning I got up the minute the cat started bugging me to feed her. I immediately put on my gear and put up some oatmeal and coffee. I read a bit while I waited the 30 minutes for the oatmeal to cook and relaxed into the idea that Jon put 2 hours of HARD riding on the table. I was out of the house in short order, and I couldn't tell you where I was headed. I got to the bottom of the hill and all the way into town when I realized that this was not yesterday and my hands felt like ice cubes. I needed to rethink my glove choice. I turned around and remember that hill I described, well I motored up it pissed off that I had been so stupid. At least my legs were fresh and my gloves were in the car not the house. After dawning my gloves I was off and found myself headed towards Brewster. I decided that despite my open mind towards the immigrant population and day laborers I don't like riding up a hill in front of 80 or so of them, especially when they cat call in Spanish at my fat ass struggling to climb a hill.

I finally break free of that experience and head out towards Carmel. I see this guy riding a mtn bike and I blow by him going up this hill. He yells out I got to get me one of those bikes. The next thing I know I was pulling him all over my world for the next thirty minutes. Don't pass an old guy on a mtn bike when you are a fat chick, he will hate it and push you to ride faster until its his turn, then you realize that you have to change your route because he is spent. I ambled a bit more before heading home. I was exhausted by the time I hit the hill, which despite taking the whimpy way felt like a mountain. My only goal for the rest of the day, besides working on my report cards was to not ingest more than I expended. I think I did alright.
With that said, I am back on the bike tomorrow.

Friday, April 8, 2011

I spent the day enjoying the MET with my son (and 2 colleagues and 40 students)

I am ready to write another road trip feature for the Knickerbocker Ledger. At first I was going to write about the MFA, which really, hands down, is my favorite museum, but I think I am going to feature both the MFA and the MET as a comparison of personalities.

I spent the day in the Met with my 23 year old son, two colleagues and 40 students. My class was directed to go look at two very different exhibits and come up with some solutions for finishing their own work. One of those exhibits was called Poetry in Clay, a Korean Ceramic exhibit from the Leeum Samsung Museum in Seoul.  I was tickled that the Korean gallery attendant was thrilled to hear I was in her home country last summer and that I went to the museum that the work had come from. I know I saw a dragon pot there in Korea, I wonder if the one that came to NY was the same one. She went on and on about how I should go back in the fall and visit some of the festivals, see the spectacular colors and eat the seasonal cuisine? This had me wondering what did she mean seasonal cuisine and just where the KimChi truck stopped today?

The other exhibit I had my students visit was Refiguring an African Icon. This was rather small exhibit that filled the hallway by the elevator between the African masks and the Modern Art galleries. It figures that this exhibit was one of those where there was no photography allowed and my students got chastised by a guard and had to put away their cameras only to have another group come by and take photos and not get yelled at.

I always seem to spend my time in the same galleries. This time I decided to make it a point to see one thing I would not usually stop to look at. I was cutting through the 19th century period room to get to the American wing so that I could indulge in that cup of coffee that I so desperately needed and came across the above cameo cut vase. I found both the colors and the details incredible.

After arriving in the American Wing we realized that we still had to wait for the cafe to open but this allowed us to have a great conversation about photo and printmaking and college choices. I laughed at the fact that I seemed to sit down with Justin (and Teresa and Henry) in front of a sculpture called the "Frog Pond" which reminded me so much of Justin's personality.

After  some much needed sustenance we headed to see a two more exhibits and headed to the bus for the journey home. It was a wonderful day in the city. When I arrived home it was a different story however. I had some errands to deal with and was left in the seething grips of a migraine after one went terribly awry. This seems to have been my week. Not to mention I still can not remember for the life of me what I was supposed to do this weekend. My hope is that if it was with someone reading this they will remind me. A few years ago I suffered a concussion that left me with post concussion syndrome. I have not felt this helpless about a memory problem since then. I know it was the mountain of work all at once, but its bothersome.

As of now, tomorrow? I am out for a long ride and then off to an opening at the Clay Art  Center in Portchester. Call me if you want to join me.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

STRESS...............................................and memory...

The past few weeks have been stress filled between going back and forth to Boston and Saratoga, compiling grades, and putting together a very dynamic and successful ceramic exhibition of HS work from around the country, complete with the rude behavior of one school, I am spent. This was just the icing on my incredible red velvet...

Don't get me wrong, but I have something really really important to do this weekend, which is why I could not go back up to Saratoga, and for the life of me I cannot remember what it was. It was the one time I didn't use my smart phone to add it to my calendar which was stupid on my part I guess. I am perplexed.

I worked out a great deal this week too, even made it into my old habit of riding for an hour and then doing olympic lifts, which has helped me with sleep and kept me focused but ?

Tomorrow I am off to the Met with my class to see the mask exhibit and some pottery! (maybe then?)

Sunday, April 3, 2011

The things you hear in passing...

I spent my morning attending to several tasks, such as creating labels for the MUD exhibit, completing some chores for my mom, and enjoying the program Sunday Morning. I put a roaster in the oven for my mom and then spent the next 60 minutes out on my bike tooling around Saratoga Lake, well, out to the inlet and back anyway. It was an extremely windy ride, one of those where the wind decided that you needed a workout in both directions. I think I live the old adage "uphill both ways" sometimes. I was feeling a bit behind the eight ball this morning, like I swallowed an ocean of salt water. I didn't want to stop on my ride, but at the half way point I decided that I needed more than water so I went into Stewarts and bought some vile sportsdrink. While waiting on line I hear this guy who was paying for gas for his vette complaining to the cashier that his car runs like crap on the corn they call fuel and how the government will be upping the ethanol percentage to 15% soon. I was only half listening until he made a comment that I am still chewing on. "Civilizations that BURN their FOOD for fuel cease to exist in short order"

Its a well known fact that we don't have an energy crisis in this country, we have an energy emergency that is as bad and as urgent  as our national debt. The guy had a point. Our production farms have converted resources to growing corn for fuel that we have created a world hunger problem that will eventually hit home as well. The issue I had with this guy though was how his choice of vehicle was adding to the energy deficit because it was not the most efficient use of the resources he was expending. The things one hears in passing.

The lake was beautiful today. I was surprised at how much ice was still on the lake. In places it still looked thick enough to support activity, though I would never think of it as there was also plenty of open water. There was a great deal of activity, amounting to "spring cleaning", people outside sweeping, raking, digging, scrubbing...Then there were the ducks, who seemed to be overjoyed at the fact that they found a large bay of open water with a 1/2 submerged abandoned dock adrift in the middle of it, of course it was also in full sun, making for a spring holiday. The things you notice in passing.

I hope to host a BBQ, maybe even a pig roast in June to help with my fundraising efforts for the PMC.  I remember how Kenny and I used to have a standing date with the pig and mint juleps in May on Kentucky Derby day. It was our way to get all of our friends together in one place. Kenny would spend a solid two days stoking a firebox on the smoker, you would think he was firing a wood kiln. His pulled pork is to die for and I HATE pork! I have a sheer aversion to it, maybe it was my pork with a side of keilbasa upbringing? I am not sure how we got out of that tradition, but its time to bring it back! On that note, look for for postings about my ETSY shop soon, all the money I raise will go to my ride and those who buy will have a piece of artwork to show for it. The things you think about in passing.

More tomorrow!

Saturday, April 2, 2011

I didn't really feel like it but I made myself do it...

I spent the afternoon yesterday setting up an exhibition of ceramic work. Moving pedestals, cleaning pedestals, removing boxes, climbing flights of stairs. I didn't realize just how much I did until I woke up this morning, I was spent. Consuming the 3 B's at the Blazer pub didn't help either (burger, beer, bourbon) but this was an important stop for my spirit. Tom (bartender) and I talked a great deal about my dad, the previous owners of the place and believe it or not pouring the perfect Guinness. Yes it takes Tom a good 5-7 min per pour and yes it does make a difference in the taste. He even manages a nice shamrock on top.

This morning I was a bit tired but I pulled myself together and headed to the Jonesville Store to pack up my own exhibition and you guessed it managed 10 flights of stairs with heavy boxes of ceramics. Why the heck does the work I do have to be so friggen heavy!!! After purchasing some scones and black bean pulled pork salad I headed to my mom's bearing these gifts. We lunched on the soup I had made for her before she went into the hospital, and then headed out for 90 minute ride to Balston Lake up to Saratoga and back. It was a beautiful ride. I chose both rode and about 5 miles of path (which proved to be really annoying as there were places that were tough to navigate as the snow/ice cover was not yet gone. When I finally arrived back in Balston Spa, I exited the path to find myself in the midst of a ton of chickens grazing. Anna, you are right, they are so stupid! I couldn't get them to move out of my way it was like they were oblivious to my presence. Maybe the grubs were too good?

I rode up route 50 and cut through the park on my way back. My goal was to ride for 90 minutes at 80-90% of my MHR, my theory on HR, cadence, and only checking the milage at that end is that its a better indicator of progress. So in the end, I covered about 27.5 miles in 90 minutes and it felt really good for the soul to have the sun beating down on me and the wind blasting me. I am so ready to keep training. Now I just have to start the fundraising process.

So why am I riding the Pan Mass Challenge? Mostly because of what I witnessed at Dana Farber over the last few weeks as my mom started her journey fighting lung cancer. I felt just as supported as my mom which I wasn't sure I would even need, but looking back on it now I know and appreciate how that extra effort to make my family feel comfortable made my mom feel comfortable. I cannot say it enough the place was absolutely amazing!

More from the road tomorrow. Look for another post to the Knickerbocker Ledger by tomorrow. I am just tweaking my battle of the object terminology piece, not that it really matters, my work is my work.
Until then...