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Sunday, November 21, 2010


Today marks my husband's birthday.  The man of my dreams.  My King of Hearts. Mr. Romance.  He gave me a birthday for the books. On second thought, he's given me many birthday gifts for the books.

In 1982 I outdid him forever. I delivered our firstborn, our daughter, on this day, November 21. If I'd had my druthers I'd've delivered her Nov. 11, as my first OB called it.  Chris knew our baby would be born on his birthday, and I scoffed at his prediction.  As the day grew nearer I scoffed more. I was ready to have the pregnancy done by the 1st due date, but no, that wasn't the case. Chris was working a turn-around (refinery lingo for scheduled maintenance) in Nov. and right after he left for work at oh-dark-thirty on the 20th, I went into labor; after a few hours of feeling weird I called him and home he came.

Long story short, the home birth didn't work & we went to Spohn Hospital in Corpus Christi (where the late Farrah Fawcett and my husband were born) and voila!  There she was!

So Chris has given up many birthdays so that we could celebrate hers This year, as in previous years, he's working.  My plans for his special day were thwarted.  I'd hoped he could fly his hang glider, or ride his age, or get a massage and enjoy a fabulous meal.

Instead, he worked late, we bought our daughter's gift, I gave him his, and we ordered Amici's East Coast Pizza delivered.  Drank some local Cabernet Sauvignon, watched a movie we DVRd and called it good. Part of me is very unhappy that I couldn't spoil him rotten.  And since he's OK with this, I guess I get to be OK with it, too.

Just wait 'til he's retired...I'll spoil him every day.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

A Dark and Stormy Night

The California coast averages fewer than 10 thunderstorms per year.  When we're privileged to have one it's a real novelty.  If I can I watch the sky for the light show, and cringe in advance of thunder pealing overhead.  Our first two Schipperkes, Scout and Gretchen, would run around the house and bark at the ceiling when we had thunderstorms.  Beau and Oliver don't seem to care.

Tonight's storm featured hail and high winds. We came out of Nugget (and a surprise wine tasting) and I saw lightning reflected in the wet parking lot, followed by thunder. The storm was just west of us, moving east in a hurry.  Two hours later the rain & wind persist, and faint rumbles emanate from the east.  The mountains are going to have some wild weather tonight.

Meave & Chris are watching a horror move, "From Hell," starring Johnny Depp.  I'd watch it because he's in it but I abhor horror movies.  "Motel" and "The Exorcist" almost scarred me for life. I'm upstairs with laundry washing, 7-bean soup simmering, 3-layer cornbread baking, with a glass of wine and "This American Life" on the radio and the staccato rhythm of rain on the patio cover in the background.  I have a few candles burning throughout the house.  My favorite is a Colonial Candle, Peppermint scent, that I haven't been able to find for 3 years.

Why do I have candles from 3 years ago?  Because I've learned to stock up, thanks to Nike.

In the 90's, when Nike offered discounts to group exercise instructors, I'd buy shoes from them in which to teach my Jazzercise classes.  I had 3 pair that I rotated; I taught 10 classes or more a week, and according to the wisdom of the day, one was to wear a pair and air out the other two.  I'd buy a pair every 3 months, with the oldest being 9 mos. old, and if they broke down by then I'd wear them to my personal training sessions -- in other words, they were fine for non-impact activities.  I could train clients in them, do my strength training routine in them, but not use them for teaching.  For about 10 years I was the Lompoc version of the Imelda Marcos of workout shoes.

So I'd get a pair from Nike and really, really like them.  Three months later I'd attempt to buy a second pair. Nike would tell me those shoes were no longer in production.  WTH?   Only 3 months?

Seems they'd make shoes, offer them to instructors, collect feedback, and either make more for the masses or discontinue the line.  So after 4 years I got wise -- when I found a pair that I liked a lot, I'd order another pair within a month.  Usually I'd get the 2nd pair.  Sometimes the style was already passe'.  That was frustrating.

And that's why I have candles I bought 3 years ago.  I wish I'd bought more.  I love the scent.  It's minty, fresh, light and not heavily-perfumed.  Some of those scents hurt my nose, they're so heavily-scented. It's as though they're made for people who are losing their sense of smell.

So my search continues.  And now dinner's ready.  I love a rainy night.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Where's my Zen?

Enjoying some fine patio time:  no wind, mild (t-shirt & shorts) temperature,  a glass of Berryessa Gap (local) Tempranillo in hand. I am restless; want to ride/run/work myself into endorphin heaven and must settle for some relaxation. It's not working.  I want to do that which I cannot.

So in 10 days I'm to give a speech about service at my Installation of officers luncheon.  I volunteered, was asked by my friend and President-elect, accepted, and am now...speechless.

Normally glib, gifted somewhat at extemporaneous speechifying, I find myself at a loss.  I have a nebulous idea of the impact I want to deliver, the point I want to make, and cannot come up with the language to put it all together.  I'm puzzled and frustrated.  I suspect that my procrastination is due to the pressure I've put on myself for a "perfect" speech.

I know I need to put that nonsense aside and just let the language come from my heart.  I'm willing to bet that the day of the installation I come up with just what I need for it to work.

Meanwhile, I sit here, trying to relax, and resisting all the while.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Bottomless Pit

This year I put my racing career on hold as my real estate business boomed. I'm still riding but not the same as the past 3 years. I miss it, but need to make a living.  And because I'm not expecting a lot from my rides, some of them have delivered hugely rewarding results.

I was nominated for the position of President-Elect of my local Association of Realtors (R). I'm in the 1st year of my 2nd 2-year term as a Director, so I have 16 months to serve before I go away. 

I wasn't going to run for President-Elect this year but accepted the nomination, worked a grass-roots campaign, and lost by a handful of votes.

I can accept losing at bicycle races, but this stung. I wasn't prepared to lose.

So now the next 3 years are WFO. I'm not committed to running next year. So now I wonder what's next?

I could put together a training program for next year's Nationals and hope to qualify for the '13 Senior Games.

Or I could ride more and rack up the smiles per mile.

Or I could find some other fat, juicy goal that entices me, and go for it.

For now I'm at loose ends. As a goal-oriented person this feels very odd, unsettling, uncomfortable.

I will definitely ride my bike, sell some houses, and see what happens. I hope to ride enough long miles that my mind becomes empty and new ideas pop in.  That's the benefit of endorphins and endurance rides.

Meanwhile, I think I'll try to get used to that bottomless pit that is "what's next?"

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Sunday Night Wrap-Up

Since my last post I've had 2 more weeks of 150-175 miles of cycling.  I was beginning to feel normal again, in that all the usual aches, pains, suffering and sweat were present more frequently.  Just the way I like it.

This week the real estate-related challenges upped their game, so I upped mine as well, but at the expense of my rides.  I rode only 3 days, totaling 115 miles, but I saved an escrow and it should close by month's end (should being the operative word).

A couple Sundays ago we rode our singles with some fast folks and I hung on for 19+ miles at 24 mph before I finally cracked.  Chris circled back to pick me up, as the rest of the group hammered on when he asked if anyone was going to regroup.  That dealt a blow to my confidence, as I can usually hang with those riders.  Reaching into my bag of excuses, I find that "really busy selling houses, not enough time to train" works well here.

So today I woke up with a feeling of dread in the pit of my stomach.  Chris made coffee and breakfast and as we were running late, we drove our bikes 6 mi. to the meeting place. (Oh, the shame!)  There were 5 of us total and while the pace was brisk, it wasn't stupidly fast, so I was able to pull as well as keep up with the paceline.  Towards the end, on the last hill, I found my climbing legs and went up like a mountain goat.  Finally!  I've been waiting for that all season!  32 miles, Steiger/Cantelow/Steiger included, avg. 19.3 mph.  I was so excited I worked 3 hrs. weeding, etc. in the back yard before my nap.

Tomorrow I'm submitting a short-sale package to a bank, with appendages crossed that it's accepted.  It'll be a day off the bike.  Colin's coming to town Tuesday so we'll have a family ride Tuesday evening.  I'm giving my 1st of 2 speeches in my quest to become elected as President-elect of my local Association of Realtors (R).  I'm looking forward to that smackdown, oh yes.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Return to Normal

Ha...and that's entirely dependent on your definition of normal.

For me, that means working hard and playing harder.  So my weekly mileage is up to 174.6.  Finally!  And the legs are holding up, so I'm doing something right.

Wrote 5 offers this last week, too, one of which was countered and accepted.  One was rejected outright.  The others are in limbo until Tuesday.

Yesterday Chris and some hang gliding friends painted the house of a fellow pilot who was devastatingly injured in a crash last year.  He's out of rehab but his house needed work.  One of his friends organized 2 work crews, one to do the prep work on Friday, the other to knock out the painting.  Mission accomplished.

I'm impressed with the HG community, even smaller and tigthter than  the cycling community.  That's some good karma they put out this weekend.

We had a few of them over to dinner last night; an impromptu potluck that included new people (to me), kids and a dog.  The visiting dog was overwhelmed by the excitement, but as she leads a quiet life, I understood the stress.  Our dogs and the kids had great fun together.  And the adults enjoyed the occasion as well.  The day was a win all the way around.

Today, for the first time in years, my phone didn't ring.  No clients called to see property or write an offer or want to list.  We had a recovery (for me) tandem ride and pulled some new cyclists into the headwind and shared successes via cycling.  Rewarding.

We were flying home with the tailwind, really ramping up the speed, hardly sweating despite the temps, when we had a flat.  And so it goes.

Tour de France, patio time, low-key hanging out completed the day.  What a great weekend!

Wednesday, June 30, 2010


This time last week we were mourning the death of one of our chinchillas. She was 15-1/2 yrs. old and except for her ailing health the last couple months, she lived a happy life with her sister.  We expected this, as she showed signs of slowing down, eating less, sleeping more, losing weight.  The saddest part?  We don't know if it was Pooh Bear, or Tikka.  They were twins.  Their personalities were their distinguishing features.

So we dug a little grave out in the front garden, and Chris made a little marker for her.

The remaining chin, whom we've dubbed "Tikka-pooh," seems fat, happy, and more people-oriented than before.  Our friends ask if she's lonely.  I don't know, but I imagine so. But she's a chinchilla, and doesn't emote like, say, a dog, so it's hard to tell.

Friday morning I had a great ride.  Saturday and Sunday the temperature finally passed 100*, finally.  We rode alone Saturday, and joined friends on Sunday for a quick 50-miler.

Sunday afternoon I showed a house, counseled buyers about their options, then attended a fund-raiser dubbed Tasting for Ta-ta's. It supports a local charity that provides funds for mammograms for those who can't afford them, and funds to help out for those undergoing treatment for breast cancer. The wines were, for the most part, worthy, the Kinder's BBQ up to usual standards, and the reconnecting with friends/colleagues/clients very satisfying.

Monday was my local Assoc. of Realtors (R) annual charity golf tournament.  I don't play golf but I serve on the committee with gusto:  I get to solicit prizes, visit clients/friends/colleagues, run an event for a worthy cause, help golfers have a good time.  And those who participate whom I know expect me to hit them up for some cycling event support.

While I'd rather watch grass grow than play or watch golf, I appreciate that golfers love their game as much as I love riding my bike. And golf courses are beautifully landscaped acres, and I do loves me some beautiful landscaping.

After 3 hours of registering players my partner and I took off for the 17th hole, as we were witnesses for the hole-in-one.  The prize?  A 2010 Honda Fit.  So it took 5+ hrs. in 104* or so heat (we had shade and company, food and every manner of beverages) for 28 foursomes to play through.  Around 4 p.m. we saw some deer boldly trot onto the course, oblivious to the balls flying and carts careening.  By the time we headed to the clubhouse for dinner there were easily over a dozen deer grazing placidly on the fairways.  I can see how the local creatures adapt to a golf course, and it gives me one more reason to appreciate a well-placed course.

Fast-forward to today:  Chris was leaving on a business trip so we took the tandem out early.  Temps were 20* cooler than Monday and Tuesday, humidity was up, so smells were lingering close to the road.  My favorite time to ride is early morning, beating the heat, feeling spots of cool air in the low-water crossings, the smells, the animals.

We were close to the end of the ride, barreling down Steiger Hill Rd. towards Cantelow Rd. at 40+ mph when a spotted fawn leaped in front of us. Yikes!!  Chris kept the bike upright and managed to spare the fawn by about 8".  It ran to the left, and slightly ahead of our front wheel. We could hear the tiny clicks of its hooves on the pavement, its tail high in the air, bounding away for its life.  We slowed a bit as we approached a right turn onto Cantelow; it crossed in front of us and got off the road.  I glanced over my shoulder as we pedaled away and saw it crash into a square-wire fence (its head was too big to fit).  Once we un-puckered we felt sad that it was alone.  I hope its mother found it.

We're pretty competitive but we've never been challenged by a deer.  This time I was happy to let it "win."  Our win was staying upright and coming home excited and unscathed.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

First Race of the Season

First let me get my bag of excuses and see what I can find. *rustles around inside large Nordstrom bag*

My race season last year, after an encouraging start, was rudely interrupted (see previous posts) by a crash and a broken wrist.  I trained in June & July, raced in August & Sept., logged many miles in October (>800, a PR), and started dropping off in Nov.  December was busy, and when my business partner went on vacation the last week of December, business picked up to a power of ten. I wasn't prepared to be so busy, so I had no program for the trainer before/after work, or the odd times I'd be engaged with clients.  Until the end of February my riding was slacking, my business over-the-top busy, and I felt overwhelmed.

Took small steps to get things under control, and had a roller-coaster spring of challenging rides, not enough training, closing deals, wishing I could train away the stress and pounds.  So frustrating, days when I'd read 2 paragraphs of a book and wake up 30 min. later with it resting on my face.

So I finally gave up -- just rode as hard as I could, when I could, let go the idea of group/race team rides, made some time trial practices, and worked hard in between, finding opportunities to power walk the dogs, have a fast tandem ride, do some strength training...you get the idea.

We set our focus on the Dunlap Memorial Time Trial, which was our first tandem TT, and one we've done 3 years now. We tried to sign up and what?  No tandem division.  They replaced it with the team TT.  Boo.  We skipped it.

So we waited until Thursday night to register for the Mt. Diablo Hill Climb.  I did it 2 years ago. Chris registered as well and since he's in better shape and has been riding more than I, we both thought he'd bring this one home.

So the day dawned with screaming dessicating north winds.  We caravaned w/K and her kids and dog, and our daughter came along to be the supervisor of the kids.

By the time I registered and had my bike ready to go I had 20 min. until my start time. Frack.  So K rode as my coach (the road was closed to cars but not cyclists, and many locals were taking advantage of the lack of cars to ride).  I never drafted, hell, I never caught her wheel even when I was really pushing it.

This even features a start house and a held start.  I love that.  I can be in a big gear, all clipped in, and when the official says, "Go" I can stand and pull the pedals so hard the front wheel comes off the ground.

I got a  solid start.  Eventually I found K.  My HR was ridiculous so I spent an inordinate amount of time working to keep it in control.

Came around some switchbacks and wham!  A face-full of wind. Around another switchback and it's tailwind. K rode this recently and remembered the corners.  Her insight was invaluable.  It's been a year since I've been on the mountain on my bike and I've forgotten.

She yelled, she encouraged, I dug deep, stayed focused, failed to recognize Diablo Scott (sorry! and thanks for the great pic!) (to be posted soon). Close to the end, at an especially steep switchback, I threw up a little in my mouth. And a day later I'm still coughing up "stuff."  Hello, lower lobes of lungs.  It's been a while.

After what seemed forever I saw the line, sprinted for it, went well past it before I stopped and hacked and nearly yakked.  K & I hugged and exchanged congrats.  Jen joined us shortly thereafter.  After some discussion they took off to ride to the Junction, down then up the southside, and back to the parking lot.

I took my time riding down so I could cheer on subsequent riders, including Chris and our friend Curtis. I was so proud to see them, as if my influence had anything to do with their racing.

Got to the start and was talking to a tall, young CAT5 rider about to go off and realized it's my www.bikeforums.net and Twitter friend, Ygduf.  This was his first race also and he posted a great time.  He has potential, that one.

After a change of clothes we checked out our results.  Chris finished in 36:37 I finished in 40:27, 7th of 8, and >2 min. slower than 2 years ago.  I have some work to do.

All in all, a very trying yet satisfying day.  The harder I work, the more adrenaline/endorphins I release, the better I feel.

I predict more racing in my future.  And I can't wait.

Late Spring Surprises

...and I haven't had a new blog post since April. Ooops.  Darn you, life, getting in the way.

Many times have I composed prose and poems, haiku and homilies, while riding/walking/washing dishes/playing in the garden.  And all those posts are in my head -- sometimes I ran out of time to post, sometimes I ran out of energy, mostly life jumped up and demanded my immediate attention.

So my new rule of thumb: Update blog 1st, then social networking sites.  There, that's better.  Priorities, like a new bra, occasionally need re-adjusting.

We've had 2 opportunities in the last week to be stand-up people.

Last week at Costco we found someone's smartphone in a basket in the parking lot. We figured out how to work the phone but couldn't find the emergency #.  So I called the entry called "Mom," and Mom called the daughter who came to the store and picked it up.  She had no idea where she'd left it and was pretty upset about it. She was very relieved and thankful that we "did the right thing."  Like we'd do the wrong thing...former Scouts that we are.

That felt great. We're big fans of happy endings.

Today a couple miles into our easy tandem toot we were passed by an older, classic motorcycle.  A mile further down the country road we see a dead buck in the middle of it, the motorcycle in the grass on the side, and the rider limping up a nearby driveway.  No one answered at the house so I called 911 & his wife.  He was skinned up bad, lots of blood but nothing apparently broken, and he was alert.  His helmet did its job, even though his face, nose and mouth had a fair amount of blood. (Good thing I'm not squeamish.) He insisted we not hang around, his pride talking, but we know better.

Chris and a neighbor who saw the commotion moved the carcass off the road, and pushed the cycle to one house over.  (That pretty bike is probably toast.  The handlebars were mangled, it was leaking oil, and who knows what else was damaged.)  We stayed around until the paramedics came, then went back to the road to find the wife. She was the driver with the anguished look on her face.  We waved her over and pointed to her husband.  As she parked a fire truck and 2 CHPs arrived.  We gave our report to the officers, got on our bike, and rode about 30 more pleasant and thoroughly enjoyable miles.

So that felt great, too, being first responders and helping this poor guy. I felt bad that his bike is broken, sad that a fat young 2-point buck (still in velvet) died, and glad this guy is going to live to ride again.

I wonder what's next?

Friday, April 30, 2010

The Heavenly Scent of Citrus

It's a perfect patio evening.  The sun is low, but still brilliant, just above the hills to the west.  The air is barely moving.  House finches chirp and flit about the adjoining yards.  The grill sizzles with steak, corn in the husk, and mushrooms, but I can't smell it.  All I smell is orange blossom. The orange tree, despite losing a third of its size to the wicked winter winds, is laden with pure white, star-like blossoms, and the cooler it gets, the headier the scent.  I could sit here and breathe forever.  I hope my last breath is as sweet as this next one is.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Celebration and Reflection

So today I spent 4 hours in negotiations on a short sale that started in early July.  The bank negotiator showed that he's committed to the closing of the sale, which will go to auction Friday afternoon if we don't get upper-management's approval.  As of noon Thursday we were verbally OK, contingent on the settlement statement.  It's all about the bottom line, after all.

My planned morning ride got pushed back to the afternoon.  Once we all reached an accord, waiting on the title company's statement to the bank, I relaxed and got ready to ride.

Last Friday I rode in the rain and my bike was filthy.  I took it down off the wall and discovered that my rear tire was flat. One more challenge...

I took the rear wheel off the Fuji, since the Diva and the Fuji both run Shimano, but for some reason (my extreme distraction, perhaps?) I couldn't get the wheel mounted on my frame.  I decided to try to change the flat instead.  Weak-fingered and impatient, I wasn't able to get the tire off the rim, so I drove the wheel to the bike shop, and Rob had it fixed in a few minutes. The man is a genius and has talent beyond belief.

I mounted the wheel and set off, finally, 6 hrs. after my original ride time.  There were some high clouds moving in but the sun was out and it was dry and 60* or so, perfect conditions.  Finally!  I get my ride after so much mental stress and frustrations!

My knees were hurting after running 4 miles with the dogs on Wed. so I wanted to spin in low gears and get in some miles. I wanted to work off my frustrations, get in a good workout, and feel good at the end of the day.

The stats:  37.4 miles in 2:18, avg. cadence 91 rpm.  Perfect.  And home well before civil twilight.

What can't be quantified are the realizations I had during my ride.

My fifth year of serious riding, my eighth year in real estate...I remember wanting to be the steady wheel I was following, and to be the knowledgeable agent that people wanted to work with; to be bold and able to negotiate (and get my way to the benefit of my clients) without diminishing others.

I realized that I am the wheel that other riders want to draft, that I am the agent other agents want to work with, that I am the agent clients want on their side.  I realized about mile 17 that I've achieved those goals, and I'm immensely satisfied.  The grass was green, the mustard brilliant yellow, the air fresh.  It all meshed.

As one who thrives on challenges I know there are many ahead of me.  All of the challenges I've met and conquered have brought me to today.  If I never win a race, never close another sale, never re-bloom another orchid, I'm happy with where I am right now.

Take notes, it may never happen again.