Tuesday, May 24, 2011


I got my BUTT kicked tonight and I only managed a few piddley miles. It all started the other day when I was bored and decided to take Tim's advice and look up meetup.com to find people to ride with. I found this group in Stamford, CT which had me interested because it meant that I could possibly find people to ride with after work. Tonight was one of those nights. I went Mtn Biking in Mianus River Park in Stamford.

No one from hosting bike shop that was supposed to show up did because it was apparently too muddy,  but this one guy Damian, a local chiropractor, and I arrived ready to ride. The issue here was that Damian was an experienced Mtn Biker. I, on the other hand was so far out of my league it was not funny, despite being out numerous times. We decided to ride anyway. He was gracious enough to give me a what amounted to an incredible lesson and trash his own workout. (what a cool guy!)


We spotted a lady slipper in bloom which is a rare find.

I learned some things about exercise physiology for the master athlete that I did not previously know. (As you age the endorphins decrease so the sensation of pain increases making falls have a negative physiological and psychological response which in turn produces the fear) I LOVE LEARNING - oh yeah I guess that is why I am a teacher.

2 falls that included one ripped pair of shorts, lots of scrapes, bruises that make me look like I have been abused, and a very tender shoulder and elbow.

A very mud encrusted bike (looks like it spent a year in my studio) and a mud encrusted body.

A huge SMILE at the end - I finally navigated a piece of the trail that scared the shit out of me otherwise

I am out there again - SOON! Really soon, like Jon and Steve I might focus on this for awhile...and after the PMC this is a hard core definite!

I arrived home to tickets for Grace Potter and Michael Franti at Charles Ives in June (anniversary present). Kenny and I went to dinner at Lefteris in Mt Kisco where we split a meal. I posted a picture because three or four could have been happy with the amount. Matter of fact, Chris and Justin helped by eating only PART of the leftovers when we got home. Maybe it was enough for five or six.

On a side note, can anyone tell me about the integrated weight loss program at Kirpalu?

Lady Slipper in bloom. 

 The Cave at Mianus- If I remember right the park is supposedly haunted and it all revolves around this cave. I will be looking into this. First I have to figure out where I heard this!
Dinner picture It was so big I couldn't fit the HUGE SALAD in the shot

On a closing note- Damian that last picture I took of that tree-fall duck is not on my camera which means I HAVE TO RIDE THERE AGAIN and its not even Wednesday yet!

Monday, May 23, 2011

Ever feel like you are frozen in suspended animation?

 I have been scheduled so tightly that I feel like I am in one of those Star Wars garbage compactors stuck in suspended animation, frozen, unable to change my predicament or move for that matter. For the fourth week in a row I am stuck doing something almost every day of the week after school. When is this going to end?

I am looking forward to tomorrow. I am headed out via Mtn Bike to Mianus River Gorge after work. I have joined a cycling group through meet-up and I am looking forward to making a fool of myself riding the stumps for a change.

This week also sees me shipping work off to Watershed and Chris. Finishing tiles for Hanna's garden. Creating a bunch of new work and writing/re-writing an article that was finished last week but lost in a weird twist of flash drive fate. Riding will be in the dark quite a bit this week I think.

TG for VA with Joanne and Mark this weekend!!! Maybe I can relax!

Saturday, May 21, 2011

riding in the rain...and the dark... and the rain

My week started with "You know,  you are allowed to give yourself permission to take a day off " but you see that is just the issue, with everything I have had going on the past few weeks its been hard to get myself out there as much as I should be. That day, by the time I got out it was dusky and raining but it was the best ride. I went up around the reservoir. There was fog over the water, the balsams and oaks were incredibly aromatic, there was a chill in the air. I felt like I was in Maine.

I didn't get back out there until this morning, well, actually afternoon. Between the rain and work load and other stuff I never got out there . Today's ride was interesting because last night Kenny and I were in the East Village acting like 25 year olds. He met me at the Met, where I was checking out the McQueen  exhibit, the Serra Drawings, and the Cypriotic pottery, all of which blew me away!!! Oddly, the McQueen exhibition made me feel like he was forcing me to address human sexuality in a harsh manner, like I was being caught as a voyeur in an S&M club. The work was crazy incredible, wickedly seductive and creepy at the same time. I want to go back when there is no crowd. Richard Serra's drawings made me understand his work all the more and the pottery? I could have stayed in that gallery forever but Kenny called and told me he was outside. We headed south on the 6 train, getting off at 14th street and walking to Avenue A. We headed south looking for a dive bar to have a drink at. We contemplated pizza at Artichoke but the line was too long. We finally settled on Doc Holiday's on 9th and Avenue A were I indulged in a nice glass of bourbon, or a glass of nice bourbon...We sat down at the bar and the guy sitting next to Kenny asked him about the baseball game. He had a British accent and was in NY on business. He was from San Fran by way of Manchester. We seemed to hit it off and before we knew it Kenny had his tour guide hat on and we were on this pub crawl through the village. It was a BLAST. If this had been our last night on earth, it may have ranked in my top ten best, despite not seeing any of my closest friends. This morning however was quite painful. I ingested a yogurt, berries, banana, toast and boiled potatoes just to see if I could feel any semblance of normal. When we finally dawned our bikes and headed out it was half past 1 and I was starving before we reached the 10 mile mark, despite eating all that starch at 9. So we cycled a bit more and stopped for lunch. After lunch we headed on our decided route right into a storm. With the skies opening up on us and not appearing to let up we headed for home, arriving soaked to the bone and 10 miles short of our plan. I was still in pain, ready to hurl, wishing I never indulged.
The rest of the afternoon held us putzing around the house. Actually I was planted firmly horizontal on the couch until my friend Roseanne showed up for dinner. Tomorrow? A better day on the bike, a quick trip to the Bronx, Greek food at Dan and Mary's...

Saturday, May 14, 2011

The Iconography of Anna

When I was pregnant with my daughter and wrestling over a name I had this feeling that the being inside had roots so I searched the family tree. My first thought was the two elder sisters, Marta and Rose of my own grandmother who both died of diphtheria almost a year apart to the day. They were three and four years old. I thought of my great grandmother and the pain she must have felt to loose her only two children (at the time) within a year of each other, and how scary it must have been to be pregnant again with her son Rudy and then later with my grandmother Edith. My great grandfather, a stained glass artist, designed two windows in their memory in a small church in Bayridge Brooklyn, where they lived and worked. My great-grandmother, Katharine was part of one of my favorite memories from my childhood. I would sit with her and sew for hours on end, making doll clothes for my collection. She had this closet with boxes and boxes of hats. I loved to take them down and play dress up. I think the boxes themselves intrigued me.

Kenny's grandmother Rhea, lost her mother at an early age to an industrial accident forcing her to quit school at the tender age of 12 to work and help support the family. They lived in a lower east side tenement. Her mother was a seamstress. It was Rhea that asked me if I would do her the honor of naming my daughter after her mother, Anna. Rhea and I had a special relationship. She was a big part of my young family's life. I would visit her in New Jersey often for lunch, something the kids loved. As my daughter Anna grew up I realized that her name was truly an honor.

As Anna grew I was reminded continuously about the biblical roots to her name, and the roots to the people she was named after, Anna Gross and Katharine Sickenger, both very strong willed, hard working, independent women for their time.  I was reminded about the presence of something greater and often told about the significance of the story of the Presentation at the Temple.

Graduations, like births, are one of those iconic life moments. I think how back 5 years ago when Anna let everyone know she was going to Temple, and the response was "for what?". They were not referring to higher education but to the service of her father's religion. On Thursday, we experienced our own iconic version of Anna at Temple

 and I realized once again how I could be both happy and sad at the same time. Anna, we are so proud of you! Go out and be that teacher, librarian, CSA farmer, environmentalist, explorer, and homesteader that you would like to be! Climb mountains, forge rivers, conquer the world and write about it! You are already a huge part of (h)istory so don't succumb to the pressure to be part of History. Just go out and do. I found this quote by an author and potter that I have been inspired by today as I looked to encourage my friend Kelly in her run around Pittsburgh. I am passing it along to you as well now go and apply it to your life.

 "The sand in the hourglass flows only one way. Don’t waste precious time chasing someone else’s definition of success. Live your life with purpose now. Look for the things that inspire you, trouble you, make you feel most alive, and trust in those things to shape your future. They will give you all your heart could ever wish for." 
 Bill Strickland

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Single Track mind...(in other words: if you want to play with them you have to be willing to play like them)

I came home yesterday shot from all that I have been up to lately. The last thing I wanted to do was get on my bike and deal with traffic. I stewed a bit and then decided that I would hit the trails instead. My main questoin was WHERE? Driving somewhere to ride would be worse than my road bike in traffic. My lovely son told me that the powerlines that ran along the reservior are great for riding. So with directions of where to turn firmly planted in my mind and the thrill of off road so close to home leaving me both excited and nervous I headed out into the woods. It was wonderful and scary and challenging and annoying and tiring...I could keep going with my description but I will spare you. The trail traversed the powerlines, some rock walls, climbed and decended some very steep terrain and had a few trecherous water crossings (something Chris balked at - he forgot to mention that). I arrived at the rondevous with the road eventually after playing tug of war for 45 min with the bike when it sank in some sand and mud up to the disc brakes. I was scratched up and bleeding and caked in MUD and DIRT (not like that is any different than work). As I road the 4 miles home on pavement feeling like I was pushing a tank up Mt. Everest I realized how lucky I was to have a kid that thought nothing of discovering that route on his own. Check out the pics (the water crossing pictured is the only one I did not have trouble with).

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Where there is smoke...

Where there is smoke...not sure I want to finish that phrase on many levels. I have had the week from a place that people of my mother's stature have told me there is a great deal of smoke and brimstone. So why am I avoiding the hockey sticks? I am afraid to tempt fate even more. Actually in the scheme of things, when I sit down and really look at it, things have been a whirlwind of comedic proportions. I sat there this morning listening to John ask his son about today's version of the age old Sat morning kid ritual and why it was raining oil up from the ground and no one was getting pelted with oil and did some word play, why is it raining shhhhh..it from the ground and why is my husband and our friend Chris the one's to turn off the spigot two week's in a row?

Sunday the septic backed up into the house, the pump went right in the middle of fn TREME... Monday started with a military shower of 2 minutes ( or less) I wish I was in TREME... $1K later
Tuesday? Time trial day. Oh, this takes the cake! I inhaled my salad (literally) and when the right side of my chest was still tight a few hours later ended up in the ER and after an X-ray and CT scan ended up admitted to Danbury Hospital and despite being discharged a few hours later without the prescribed bronchoscopy despite the change in my lungs (more when I know more). No time trial BTW...
Wednesday? TEA and an ORANGE PEEL and a MEETING don't MIX!!! Yes, I slipped on an orange peel at lunch while holding a full cup of rooibos and YES IT FRIGGEN STAINS. I ended up attending an after-school meeting in a beat -up sweatshirt because it was THAT much better!
Thursday, after a 3 hour drive? Well, I felt like a complete KILN HOG when ALL of the work I brought to the kiln got in and not much else...despite only 18 cups and 3 vases....
Friday? Well, after posting that the kiln was content I spoke too soon. A mulch pile that was previously insignificant (and way too near the kiln) caught fire when a strong wind kicked up AND WHILE I WAS THE ONLY ONE THERE!!! My friend Pete was privy to all of this as we were communicating at the time. Which in some way seemed so fitting. We love each other to death and in the midst of him telling me about his week, which was even more tragic, mine continued to fall apart. To top it off I was reading This Life is in Your Hand: Sixty Acres adn a Family Undone ( Coleman) which is a story about a family that homesteads off the grid in the 1970's in northern coastal Maine. I couldn't wait to tell him about it. (That always happens) The mulch-pile incident scared the beJesus out of me but I managed to extinguish it before any real damage was done. Steve showed up and I was soooooo afraid to leave the kiln's side for even 30 seconds and within site. Despite this hiccup the firing did finish up well  ( and this morning we reflected upon all of it) We had a Greek dinner by the kiln that could not be beat!
Saturday? Well, as John was mentioning the oil in the cartoon to his son Kenny and our friend Chris were digging up the septic for the 2nd time, getting it pumped for the 2nd time, fixing a pump for the 2nd time, replacing couplings for the second time, finding out that flushable wipes are not safe for septics and that pipes in even these conditions can freeze and break and go un-noticed until... 
I haven't been on a bike in a week and seem so out of touch with my world...TOMORROW morning in TOGA! For now its a bourbon and SLEEP!


Sunday, May 1, 2011

under the cherry tree...

My day started with a bike ride and ended with "Hanamizake" (drinking sake with Chris, Kaoru, Dan and Mary under the weeping cherry tree in Chris and Kaoru's yard). It was a near perfect day that capped a near perfect weekend. I rode, I worked in the studio, I visited with friends, I sent out some fundraising letters for the PMC and I met some new people.

Yesterday I managed a decent varied terrain ride, it was a beautiful day and despite stressing over the hills on the planned route I was surprised to learn that I was in better shape than I anticipated. The three hills I worried about enough to make me procrastinate my departure time actually did not bother me at all. There was one thing that I still don't get though, in the 25-30 miles I rode I passed 12 cyclists only two acknowledged me. Metropolitan NY cyclists seem to have their heads up their proverbial keister that they cannot recognize the friendly gesture as being something that they should respond to. Sorry to all my NY buddies but I have ridden in so many other places and by far we are the rudest, though the farther you get from NYC...well lets just say that by the time you his the Catskills it changes...and in Saratoga, as long as its a local you are sure to get a wave, and maybe even a shout hello. Does it really hurt that much to recognize the solidarity of the pain of the seat, the heartbreaking crunch of the hills or even the fact that you are balancing on two wheels?

After riding we ran some errands and hit up the Capt. for some libations for the weeks Yankee games and then headed home to spend the evening sharing a movie with Justin and Hallie. We watched Kick Ass, not really sure what my thoughts were about the movie. I was in bed by 10PM. 

This morning Kenny and I headed to Hamden, CT to meet a fairly newbie cyclist and complete a 30 mile ride along a canal path. I was so happy to meet Rick. He was a pleasant guy with a great deal of questions and tremendous enthusiasm about riding. We had fun and while riding on a path is something that I try to save for interval workouts and try not to do on weekends it really wasn't that bad, despite the gorgeous weather. It was a really pretty ride. We saw a guy walking 8 dogs, remnants of a canal that had me reminiscing about my mom's time in Tribes Hill and the Old Barge Canal not far from her house. We also saw this flyer for an event that happened just two days ago. Steve I took the picture for you. The NH to Simsbury ride featured three groups of riders, the photographers, the caffienated tourists, and then the rabbits. We all know where you would fall on that one and despite me being on the fringe of that pace I would most likely slip back into the photographers. There is just that much to look at! Thanks Rick for showing me the path and giving me some interesting ideas for adding to the quality of workouts we do for speedskating. David if you were on the path between Hamden and Cheshire I think I saw you (actually someone who knew Team Kermit was riding in this large group, but did not stop me to say anything. He only mentioned that they were a team that rode the  PMC to the guy he was riding next to). 

After the ride we just had to hit up Griff's Chicken Shack. This is a place on Route 10 very close to The Sleeping Giant. Its one of Justin and Chris's favorite places to eat. This place has some of the best chicken fingers on the planet and at a very reasonable price. We brought some chicken to Chris and his buddies at the track and field car wash, not sure if he actually shared it though. I'll find out in a bit. 

We ended our day with a lovely relaxing hour of drinking sake with friends under a weeping cherry tree. An incredible end to an amazing weekend!