Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Hiking the Mountain...

The verdict is in ....

.... it's a cold.

I will use that as my excuse for last night's sort-of-grumpy-sort-of-tongue-in-cheek post about all the things I hate. Only I left out a few, so I'll save those for another night.

Sweet Girl has come home to go with me to the football game this weekend, and she wanted to hike up Stone Mountain. If you're not familiar with the "largest exposed mass of granite in the world," click on this link to read a short article about it. A Google search will point to many other sources of information.

It was a fairly cold, blustery day here in Georgia, but the temperatures were forecast to rise into the 60's. So I made the intelligent, reasonable (and reasoned), wise, informed decision to leave my jacket in the car when we got to the parking lot and go in just my long-sleeved t-shirt. After all, we would be exerting ourselves hiking up the mountain, and the day was supposed to warm up.

This intelligent, (sometimes) reasonable, wise, college-educated adult didn't take into consideration the winds and the increased altitude at the top of the mountain.

I didn't freeze to death, but I would have kicked myself in the rear end if it hadn't meant risking tumbling off the face of the mountain. And there were signs everywhere threatening to prosecute me if I were so stupid as to fall off the mountain.

Part of the trail going up the side of the mountain. It isn't all this uneven, but it gets quite a bit steeper.
The Atlanta skyline, seen from the top of the mountain.
My girl!
Don't they understand this is just a CHALLENGE? Ha ha ha.
The yellow dashed lines show directionally-challenged people like me the walking path up the side of the mountain. More importantly, they show the way back.
Yours truly. My shirt says "Witch and Famous." My only concession to Halloween. Well, that and the candy.
There are numerous carvings like this along the pathway up the mountain. I'm sure there are others beyond the "do not pass this fence" area.
I was intrigued by this marker. It is dated 1873, so I suppose that's when it was placed.
I've never ridden the skylift to the top of the mountain, but I would like to. It wasn't running today due to the high winds.
I found myself wishing I lived closer to the mountain so I could hike it more frequently. Rozmo lives nearby, and as it turns out, she was at the mountain today too, but our paths didn't cross.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

I Hate It When.....

I hate cold weather.

I hate wind.

I REALLY hate cold and windy weather.

I hate having my cake pops not turn out like I wanted them to.

I hate things not working.

I hate Halloween.

I REALLY hate the holiday that is Halloweenthanksgivingchristmasnewyears.

I hate the thought of going out to eat for Thanksgiving.

I REALLY hate the thought of cooking Thanksgiving dinner for two (or three) people.

I hate the whole zombie thing.

I hate the color orange.

I hate days when I don't exercise.

I hate having two items left over that won't fit in the dishwasher.

I hate being wrong.

I hate not following Dancing with the Stars this season.

I hate losing my train of thought.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Sniffle, Sniffle, Sneeze, Sneeze.......

I may be the first person ever "fired" from a volunteer job because I can't stop sniffling. It IS a library, after all. I mean ... media center.

Last Wednesday, my first day of volunteering, I blamed it on the fact that I left the house in a hurry (not used to punching a clock anymore, I guess) and forgot to take my "allergy" medicine.

Image from

I take "allergy" medicine every day of my life, not because I have allergies, but because I have vasomotor rhinitis, which basically means I have allergic symptoms that are NOT caused by an external stimulus. I call it being allergic to myself. It's annoying because it's year-round and there's nothing I can avoid to keep the symptoms from declaring themselves, and over-the-counter allergy medications appear to stop being effective after a period of time. So I get on the merry-go-round and try a different one for a year or so, until IT stops working.


The MOST annoying part of it, however, is that the symptoms mimic a cold exactly. Sneezing, watery eyes, sniffling, runny nose (blowing it doesn't help, and sorry if that's TMI), red nose from constant wiping, etc. The only way I know for sure whether or not it's a cold is if it lasts more than half a day or so.

Today I DID take my medication before I left to go to the elementary school, so I can't blame it on that. It may be that this particular brand of medication has stopped working. I'm not really sure how to test that, except to see if it lasts more than a day or so, but then how do I TELL THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THAT AND A COLD?

It's not that I necessarily feel bad. If the wind weren't blowing a jillion miles an hour, I might have gone for a bike ride today when I got home. So I'm thinking it isn't a cold. Maybe.

It is, however, annoying.

It could at least show up with some kind of label to let me know what it is.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

A Marketing Idea.....

Let me preface this topic with the statement that I know ABSOLUTELY NOTHING about marketing. I do, however, recognize the need for a marketing niche just for retired people. You marketers out there, take this idea and run with it. I don't even care if you don't give me credit.

Truthfully, it wouldn't necessarily have to be JUST retired people it's geared toward. I think targeting that audience, however, might make it just that much more marketable.

See, I told you I don't have any idea what I'm talking about.

The idea I have is that companies should market some food packages just for retired people (or similar households with only one or two people in them).

Hubby and I wind up wasting food sometimes because the packages don't fit our lifestyle. Because food packages are meant for larger families, sometimes the food goes bad before we get a chance to use it all.

And this marketing scheme needs to be designed so that we aren't punished by paying MORE per (pound, ounce, item) than the larger-sized containers. I bought a half-pound package of bacon at the store yesterday, and it cost almost as much as a full pound. But we are likely to waste some if we buy a whole pound, so I paid more per ounce than I should have.

Here are some of my specific ideas for smaller quantities/amounts:

  • Four hamburger or hot dog buns (ideally, three, but I'm trying to be reasonable)
  • Half a loaf of bread
  • Hot dog chili in a VERY small can (On the rare occasion that we have hot dogs, Hubby and I may use a tablespoon or so of the chili, and the dog gets the rest.)
  • Half a gallon of milk (Oh wait...never mind)
I suppose we COULD just move to Europe, where the tendency is to shop almost daily just for what the family needs for that day.

At least that's the rumor I heard. I've never lived there.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Dear Coach Mark Richt.....

Dear Mark Richt (and the rest of the Georgia football team):

You're welcome.

I am positively 100% sure that the victory this evening over the much-hated Florida Gators is attributable mostly to my own tried-and-true superstitions.

These are the shoes I wore to the grocery store this morning.
With these socks. I'm sure there's such a thing as "overkill". Stay tuned.
These are the shoes I wore before my feet got cold. Literally, cold feet.
My pajama pants. I was tempted to wear them to the grocery store, but I do have SOME standards. Okay, one. Standard.
I know we were supposed to wear red today, and if I had been in the stadium, I would have. I figured since I was at home, the black one would suffice, as long as it had the "G" on it. Laundry is not my favorite thing to do.
My bracelet. Not a very good example of proper depth-of-field.


This may be the least comfortable bra in my dresser. But I was afraid to take it off until the game was over!

As the Bud Light commercial says about sports superstitions, "It's only weird if it doesn't work."

How 'bout them Dawgs.



Friday, October 26, 2012

Flashback Friday - When I Met Rozmo.......

If I had to pinpoint the exact moment my friendship with my cycling pal Rozmo started, I would pick BRAG 2004. It would have to be the first part of the week, because that was the year she had to go home mid-week to be with a friend for a medical procedure. We had known OF each other before then, and Rozmo would go back further than that. I guess it's typical of friendships (any relationship?), that one would remember something the other did that stuck with her, and the other has no recollection of the event whatsoever.

A typical Rozmo picture, taken when we had a rest stop at Mayfield Dairy. She said she wanted to show this one to her dad. He must be proud. 

Before my stint as the person in charge of the merchandise truck on BRAG, the job apparently belonged to Rozmo and a friend of hers. Working in the merchandise truck isn't necessarily a HARD job, but it can be annoying. You have to ride like hell to get into camp by 2:00, when the truck is supposed to open. If you're lucky, you have just enough time to shower and change clothes, only to get in a truck where it's approximately a billion degrees hotter than the surface of the sun. The shower becomes a distant memory almost immediately. The truck is open from 2:00 to 5:00, and it does have its pleasant moments. You get to interact with a number of people you might never encounter on the road. Okay, that's the only one I can think of. For the privilege of working in billion degree temperatures, one gets to ride BRAG for free. I did it for several years before I said to myself one day, "Hey...I've GOT the $200 rider's fee."
On the Silver comet Trail.

According to Rozmo, when she was in charge of the merchandise truck, I was assigned to work my shift that afternoon. When I reported to work, I told her and her friend they didn't need to hang around, I could handle it. She was grateful and has never forgotten it, and I don't even remember it.

This looks like a cold morning, but it was actually the first day of BRAG. Rozmo is almost always smiling. 
I do nice things so rarely, you would think that would stick out in my mind.

We started planning rides together after the summer of 2004. We went on a couple of out-of-town rides, and we started making plans to either stay together on BRAG or at least ride together.

Working at BRAG registration. Rozmo worked for BRAG almost fulll-time for a few years, and I was greatly relieved when she gave that job up. That meant we could once again ride together.
Just because two people LIKE each other, it doesn't necessarily follow that they can RIDE together. People have different riding styles. One may like to stop frequently, one may like to stop almost never. One may like to socialize at rest stops and get into camp whenever, and one may feel compelled to get it done and get it over with.

Rozmo and Chico in the RV. Rozmo is a dog person, which is just another reason I like her.
Rozmo and I don't ride EXACTLY alike, but we have adapted to one another's styles and ride well together. Rozmo never met a stranger, and she can find something nice to say to almost anyone. She compliments parents when their children are especially well-behaved, because she knows parents like to hear that. And she's not even a parent herself! But she was an elementary and middle school P.E. teacher for 30 years, so she knows a thing or two about children. And their parents.

This picture is from Paddle Georgia, another adventure Rozmo and I shared. We also shared the same opinion of it, almost. I went home after Day 2; Rozmo made it through Day 3.
Rozmo is one of the most organized people I know. Her things are always packed neatly, and she even folds her DIRTY laundry and puts it in a separate section of her suitcase. She is kind, generous, witty, and an excellent people-person. She can mediate any conflict, even between people she doesn't even know. Last year on BikeFest we witnessed a family dispute on the Riverwalk down below our camping area, and before we knew it, Rozmo was calmly walking the feuding parties up to the parking lot. She's just that kind of person.

This was after a particularly trying day on BRAG when everyone's laundry, which they paid to have done, got jumbled together. The facial expression is staged, but the emotion was real.
Rozmo pushes me to be a better cyclist and a better person. I am truly lucky (and grateful) to have her friendship.

I may have posted this photo before. We had dinner during BRAG at my non-cycling sister's house, and Rozmo was freezing. (She's very cold natured.) Rather than inconvenience anyone by asking for socks or requesting the thermostat be adjusted, Rozmo simply asked for two paper towels and wrapped her feet in them.
No one will ever accuse Rozmo of taking herself too seriously. Just another reason she's my friend.
Rozmo, Doug and I stopped at the "Castle" house on BRAG this past summer for a photo op. I also have a photo of Doug in his plastic bag inner liner, but this post isn't about him.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Probably Shouldn't Slap a Woman Who's Being Treated for Cancer.....

I had another blog topic planned for tonight, complete with pictures, but something happened today that set me off to the point that I had to write about it tonight.

If you were shocked to read the title of my post, please rest assured that I am NOT talking about my mother-in-law. I apologize if that doesn't make the title any easier for you to stomach.

There is a woman whom we have seen several times at the radiation clinic. She is one of those people who speak so loudly (not to mention incessantly) that it doesn't take many trips to become well acquainted with all the details of her life. I know what kind of car (truck) she drives, what is wrong with it, why she went to see the folks at Just Brakes instead of the mechanic who calls himself "Dr. Vo" that she used to use, what kind of cell phone she has, where she bought it, what she does (and does not do) on a phone, and how she blocks things that she doesn't use and therefore doesn't want to pay for. I know the back way into the clinic that doesn't involve a left-hand turn on a busy 6-lane highway (I would be the first one to thank her for that one, but she wasn't even talking to me), I know she takes both chemotherapy and radiation, and I know that her appointment time is "when I get there."

Her name is Paula, her friend's name is Lou, and every time they are in the waiting room together, he thanks her again for telling him about the back way into the clinic. I think once (maybe twice) should have done it. Perhaps that's the only thing in the world (other than cancer) they have in common.

There are two tables in the waiting room with jigsaw puzzles on them. One of them is finished (I put the last pieces in myself one day last week, after I corrected some "misplaced" [read: hammered in even though they obviously didn't go there] pieces and determined that one piece was from a different puzzle entirely), and the other is in the beginning stages. Some people sit in front of the puzzles and work diligently on them; some ignore them.

Today Paula and Lou were in the coffee corner, discussing cell phone plans and car repairs, and an Hispanic woman (I think that's part of the underlying issue here, or I wouldn't mention it) came in with two absolutely ADORABLE children. They looked like twins, a boy and a girl, China-doll beautiful and perfectly silent. Those children didn't utter a sound. They appeared to be somewhere around three years old. Their mother was on the phone, and she was sitting in front of one of the puzzles.

I was engrossed in the stupid game I've been playing on my iPad, but I suddenly heard, "No, No, No, NO, NO!!!" Paula was pointing at the children, who had DARED (!!) touch some of the pieces of the unfinished puzzle. I think she frightened them into submission (or into next week), because it was quiet for a few minutes. Then I heard it again, when the children had wandered over to the other puzzle, the finished one, and began taking some of the pieces apart.

I thought Paula was going to come unglued. She got up, practically ran across the waiting room, and pounced on those children. She proceeded to fix the pieces they had moved, and apparently they had moved some pieces from one table to the other. Paula was clearly exasperated, sighing and stamping her feet as she "fixed" things.

Even Lou said to her, "Paula, don't worry about it."

I had to wonder if Paula's attitude toward those children had anything to do with the fact that they are Hispanic. There. I said it.

I realize Paula obviously has some challenges in her life, going through radiation AND chemotherapy, and I heard her mention an ex-husband, so it's possible she doesn't have the life support I have and I should give her a break. I just got the impression that she behaved this way even BEFORE she had cancer. I could be wrong, and I know I shouldn't vent about things without knowing the whole story.

But they were CHILDREN. Precious children. Beautiful children. In a radiation clinic, where NO ONE wants to be, and they have no idea what's going on or why they're there. I don't even know the relationship between the mother and whoever is receiving treatment (it could be her, I try not to figure those things out unless they are SHOUTED in my hearing).

I made eye contact with the mother and smiled, trying to convey in a single facial expression, "It's okay, we're not all like that, it doesn't matter that your children touched the puzzles, please don't be embarrassed." It's exhausting trying to get all that into one brief smile.

I will try to think nice thoughts about Paula while she goes through this terrible experience. I will attempt to chalk her behavior up to how difficult it must be to deal with cancer on a very personal level. I will make every attempt not to slap her in the event she behaves that way again.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

My New Job.....

I started a new job today, and while I realize it's still in the honeymoon period, it was a lot of fun.

Well, it's SORT of a job. I spent part of the day volunteering. In a library. At an ELEMENTARY school.

A friend of mine (who is still a friend even though she was born the year I graduated from high school **ahem**) with whom I used to teach is now teaching in a county where I USED to teach, and she has gone from teaching technology and video broadcasting to serving as the media specialist at an elementary school.

When I found out about her new job, I told her I couldn't believe it. It's not like elementary students could appreciate her sarcasm. (Which, by the way, she says she got from ME. I know, right?) She said elementary students are just like high school students, without the curse words and cell phones. Hmmm... She might have a point.

Anyway, her school district eliminated all media center parapros this year (possibly other parapros also, but I'm not sure about that), so she and her fellow media specialists are relying solely on volunteers. When I saw the article (and her picture) in the area newspaper, I decided to volunteer. I thought I needed to broaden my horizons. Step outside my comfort zone. Branch out. Get away from this stupid game on my iPad.

When I first met Jennifer, she was the technology in the school where I was in charge of the yearbook. I used her classroom for my yearbook staff during her planning period, so we sort of shared the same space. She interacted with the yearbook staff and became almost an honorary adviser. (If I'd been smart I would have thrown the whole kit and kaboodle at her and made her the OFFICIAL adviser, getting out while the getting was good.) Right after I met her, I asked Jennifer how long she had been teaching. "This is my first year," she said. I was floored. She had a presence about her, a calmness, a spirit of veteranness (don't you like THAT word I just made up?) that I had never seen before in a first-year teacher. Hell, I still didn't have it myself, and I had been teaching ... a long time ... at that point.

Anyway, Jennifer and I wound up in the same county again, but at different schools, and the only time we saw each other was once a year at graduation. Then she moved on and I retired, and we only "saw" each other on Facebook.

That's not the ONLY reason I decided to volunteer at her school, mind you. It wasn't JUST to catch up. It also takes me to the only town near me that has a Michael's, and I don't have to make a special trip to get supplies for crocheting and making cake pops.

My regular day for volunteering is going to be on Mondays, at least until mother-in-law finishes her radiation treatments and my schedule is a little more flexible. Today I went to learn the ropes, and the time flew by. I checked books in on the computer, checked books out, shelved books, shelved some more books, and shelved some more books. I also spent a lot of time putting clear tape on the spines of paperback books. I marveled at Jennifer's ability to multi-task, and I admired (again) her flexibility when the counselor came in to tell her she wouldn't be working with the kindergarteners (!) as planned, and Jennifer needed to come up with something to do with them for 45 minutes. I would have cried great big old crocodile tears, but Jennifer didn't even flinch. When I left, she was reading a story to the class of kindergarten students, and while they weren't exactly paying RAPT attention, they also weren't slapping each other, texting their friends and mamas, or putting their heads down and going to sleep.

It was a fun day, I felt like I was doing some good (I hope I hope I hope I hope), and it got me out of the house. I think I'll go back again.

A day spent surrounded by books - this must be what Heaven is like.
I love how neat and organized libraries are. And bright and quiet and all the things my life typically isn't.

However, the lighting in libraries always seems to be TERRIBLE for photography.
Students at this school typically wear uniforms, but this has been Red Ribbon Week, and today's theme was "Team Up Against Drugs," so they could wear their favorite sports team clothes. I was especially nice to the ones who had on UGA gear. Just kidding, I was nice to all of them.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Weather and Mood.....

I don't fully understand the connection between weather and people's moods. Or at least MY mood.

I mean, I get that there IS a connection. I'm just not completely aware of WHY.

These past few days have been the perfect weather here in our little corner of the world. Bright blue skies, often cloudless or with only wispy clouds, chilly temperatures in the mornings (but not enough to see one's breath), warming up to short-sleeve weather during the day.

Likewise, my spirits have been high. Buoyant even. (I just wanted to see if I could spell that word.) I haven't had a meltdown in ... oh, say several days ... and I've done things that are completely out of character for me.

For example: visiting my mother, cooking, and cleaning house.

Logic tells me that doing things like laundry, mopping, and cleaning the bathrooms could just as easily be done on a rainy, dreary, cold day. In fact, wouldn't a day when it's not decent enough to get outside and do anything else LEND itself to staying indoors and getting things done?

Oh, I do the staying indoors part. I'm just not likely to use the time being productive. I might curl up with a good book (iPad, whatever), work on my quilt, crochet, or play a video game.

But it's the perfect weather days that inspire me to get things done. Hubby is probably hoping it never turns cold and rainy again.

Is anyone else out there affected similarly by the weather? Or am I insane all by myself?

Monday, October 22, 2012

Lukey-Luke Turns One.....

I don't know when I started calling that sweet baby Lukey-Luke instead of his real name. I generally do that with names. (I once had a student named Shane, and I started calling him "Shaney Waney." Instead of being insulted, he started putting that on his papers when he turned them in.)

Back to Lukey-Luke.

Can you believe this is the same little boy I wrote about last October, when he came into the world weighing all of 1 pound 15 ounces?

His parents are some of my favorite people. I hope their next year is MUCH less stressful than the past one has been.

Happy birthday, Lukey-Luke!

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Just Another Manic Sunday....

I realize that's not the title of that song, but it fit today, and today is Sunday.

I woke up this morning (reluctantly) feeling like someone had beat me. Or like I had just bicycled two days in a row for a total of 106 miles and stayed up past my bedtime watching college football. I didn't want to do anything. I just wanted to drink coffee and read the paper and play the new game Katydid got me hooked on and be a vegetable all day.

In a rather strange turn of events, however, I decided to go visit my mother.

I know, right?

I called her before I could change my mind, because then I COULDN'T change my mind. I told her I would be there around lunchtime, after she went to church. Then I went to the grocery store so I wouldn't have to do THAT chore when I got home from Mom's.

I know, right?

I sort of dreaded the trip to Mom's, and not just because she lives an hour away. Usually as soon as I get there, she wants to go somewhere to eat, and that means driving another half hour in one direction or the other, sometimes back to the very town I just went through to GET to her house. (Meeting there for lunch would make way too much sense.)

I also dreaded the trip because going to Mom's usually puts me in a funk. It's hard to describe and harder to explain, but let me say right here in this public forum that I realize my attitude is at least part of it. Like 5%. Just kidding. Mom is a difficult person to know, but I won't use this space to talk about relationships or family dynamics or childhoods or anything like that.

I made the decision to go visit, and I made a conscious decision to go with a cheerful heart and just go along with whatever she wanted to do. To my surprise, Mom did NOT want to go out to eat. She had cooked some pinto beans and a small pork roast, and she made slaw and rice and biscuits to go with them.

We had a nice lunch, then we walked to the top of "the hill," the highest point on the property that she and my brother share.

I love that place.  It is so peaceful, so serene (is that redundant?), and so quiet. We petted the horses, then we went back down the hill to sit on Mom's new front porch in her new swing. We just sat and visited, which was much nicer than getting in the car with me driving all over a town I'm not completely familiar with.

The visit was so pleasant that when I came home, I was inspired. I brought home some leftover pinto beans for Hubby (one of his favorites), then I made beef chunks, cornbread, fried okra, and squash casserole to go with them. (He won't touch the squash casserole, or any kind of casserole, but I promised mother-in-law I would make one for her and me.) I hope Hubby doesn't expect to eat like that every night. I also did a load of laundry and thought about mopping the floor, but that's as far as I got with that. (There's always tomorrow, as Scarlett O'Hara would sort of say.)

This is just a (rather long-winded) way to say that rather than putting me in a funk like it usually does, visiting with my mother inspired me to be at least a little productive when I got home.

Just don't tell her that one underlying reason for today's visit was that the Falcons weren't playing today. And please don't judge me. Baby steps.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Casey Cagle's Charity Ride.....

Casey Cagle is our Lieutenant Governor, and he is an avid cyclist. He also sponsors several charities, one of which strives to combat childhood obesity.

It isn't a huge ride (yet), only in its second year, but it is only 20 minutes from my house, so I was eager to ride it. It gets old driving two hours or more to ride a bike 50 to 60 miles.

Today's ride had options of 20-something (we never pay attention to that one), 50, 66, or 100 miles. We knew we wouldn't be riding the century, since that's what we did just LAST Saturday. I was sort of leaning toward the 50-miler, using the excuse (?) that I had to go to Lukey-Luke's birthday party at 4:00. I succumbed to peer pressure, however, and went along with Rozmo and Rita on the 66-mile ride (which turned out to be only 65, and I was glad). Rita was her ever-cheerful, upbeat, happy self, and once again I resisted the urge to tell her to put a sock in it.

It was VERY, VERY, VERY chilly at the beginning. So chilly that when the route started off on some nice downhills, I whined, "I don't WANT to go downhill!" Naturally those words came back to haunt me at the end of the ride, when we had to go back up those very same hills.

The Lieutenant Governor was trying to ride with multiple groups today, and we saw him at the first rest stop. Rozmo (the only person I know who could get away with such things), said to him, "You lied to me! You said it was only hilly at the beginning!"

I told her, "Yeah, but he didn't say how long the beginning WAS."

Then Rozmo proceeded to tell our state's second-in-command that he had nice legs and that he might want to consider shaving them. (In her defense, she did NOT tell him, although she said it to me, that he had a nice butt.)

The route went right by the subdivision where Lukey-Luke and his parents live, and I was tempted to just stay there and tell Hubby to meet me there for the birthday party. But there was the whole shower/clean clothes/make-up/hair thing to consider, so I pedaled on.

I would be happy to do this ride again, particularly since it is so close to home. If they have it at the same time of year every time, it will just be a crap shoot regarding the weather. It could be 40 degrees, or it could be 80. That's just the way it goes in the South.

By the way, I didn't get many good pictures of Baby Luke at his birthday party. He was sleepy and overwhelmed with all the goings-on, and many people were jockeying to take pictures. So I stayed out of the way for the most part, but I will see if any are worthy of posting tomorrow.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Friday Fatigue......

I was afraid I would scare some of you off with another "random thoughts" title, so I switched it up a little.

I swear I had a wonderful blog post planned for tonight, a Flashback Friday all about my cycling buddy Roz and how we met, complete with some pictures. (There's one of her drinking a beer while standing on her head, and I don't think I can do it justice tonight.) I will share those thoughts with you by next Friday at the very latest.

My goal is to start writing blog posts earlier in the day, so I don't have to A) rush right before I go to bed; and B) come up with something coherent when I'm tired to the bone.

  • My mother-in-law finished her first week of radiation treatment today. Only 5 more weeks to go. Nurses have warned her that she may begin to feel some discomfort in her mouth after three or four weeks. She refuses to believe it because her husband didn't have any discomfort in HIS mouth when HE did radiation 25 years (or so) ago. We keep reminding her that he didn't have radiation on his mouth, but she is sticking to her guns. I guess if I were in that situation I would have some coping skills too.
  • I finally got on my bike today and rode 41 miles. It was a beautiful, beautiful day, but it was WINDY. I rode to the golf course where Hubby and his buddies were playing today, not their usual course. There is something psychologically satisfying about doing a bike ride and knowing you don't have to ride back home. No, I don't know why either.
  • I have started crocheting an afghan from a kit I ordered after seeing it in a catalog. The picture was gorgeous, but I'm not liking how it is turning out. I'm wrestling whether to scrap it altogether, use the yarn for something I actually like, or just keep plugging away. I don't like admitting defeat, but I don't like putting time into something I probably won't like anyway.
  • Our big-screen t.v. bit the dust. It was horribly expensive, and it's not that old, and we will NEVER buy another Samsung t.v. The one we bought tonight to replace it is almost as wide as I am tall. I saw one on display at the store that was almost $10,000. Seriously? Can a television be WORTH that much? Without washing the dishes or something?
  • Tomorrow is a busy day. It begins with a bike ride sponsored by our Lieutenant Governor, in the middle is a birthday party for Baby Luke (can you BELIEVE he's a year old already?), and football to wrap things up. On television, thank goodness. I hope to have some pictures of Luke to post tomorrow night. With his parents' permission, of course.
Good night!

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Customer Service People.......

One more blog post about blowing a tire on the RV on the interstate when I was all alone (there...does that invoke sympathy?), and then I'm done with that topic. I promise. And while some of this involves complaining (it IS me, after all), I am truly, truly grateful for the response and the assistance I received. Truly. But there were some iffy moments.

When I got the RV to the side of the interstate, the first person I called was Hubby. Oddly enough, I was NOT crying. I was actually pretty calm.

"I need some advice," I told him. I explained what had happened, then I provided my own advice. "I think our RV insurance policy includes roadside assistance. Shall I call them?"

Hubby's first question was whether or not the tire blowing caused me to lose control. I didn't point out that if that had been the case, I would have been telling him about an ACCIDENT rather than a flat tire. But that's neither here nor there.

Miraculously, I knew where the insurance card for the RV was because I had JUST PUT IT IN THERE THE DAY BEFORE I LEFT. I called the number on the card and proceeded to get A) the option to continue in Espanol; and B) a seemingly endless menu of choices of buttons to push. Keep in mind that my hands were shaking violently, and an iPhone doesn't respond well to sweaty fingers. It took several tries for each number.

When I finally got a real person on the phone, she said she would redirect me to roadside assistance. Then the line went dead.

I had to call back and repeat the entire process, but at least this time I knew to ask for roadside assistance. I got a very nice young woman on the phone and explained what had happened. I emphasized that I was alone, hoping that might create a sense of urgency for her that was at least a fraction of my own. (Here's a project for you: Next time you go on a trip of any length, note all the RVs out there. Count how many of them are driven by women.)

I still held my insurance card in my hand like it was a lifeline. So I knew the answers to most of her questions.

"Year?" 2003
"Make?" Four Winds
"Model?" 5000
"Color?" White

I realize she was just filling out information on a computer, but if she had my policy in front of her (shouldn't she have?), should she not also have that information readily available? And WHAT COLOR? Is that really pertinent to whether or not I get my tire changed?

"Length?" 30 feet (It's actually 29, but I rounded up just in case that was as important as the color white.)

I don't remember exactly when, but sometime in the middle of these questions, she asked, "Is this a motorcycle?"

Sure, it's a motorcycle 30 feet long. And that bad boy is a bitch when it comes to cornering.


Then she asked me, "How tall is it?"

I should have known that one, since I knew we couldn't drive it through a covered bridge at one of the state parks. But I couldn't pull the information off the hard drive that is my brain.

"I don't know, I'm sorry," I said.

"Can you just give me an estimate?" she persisted.

Again, I realize that asking those questions is part of her job. But if the answer is "I don't know," then asking the question another way isn't going to help.

"Is it taller than 20 feet?" she asked.

HELL NO it isn't taller than 20 feet. Does she realize that's roughly the equivalent of a two-story building?

It was getting hotter and hotter in the RV, and my hands were still shaking. Hell, the RV itself was shaking every time a tractor-trailer went by. And I was well off the road.

She knew I was getting frustrated, but she still asked, "How much does it weigh?"

"I don't know."

"Can you just give me an estimate? Is it 20,000 pounds?" (Personally I think she has a thing for the number 20.)

I can almost forgive her for the question, because at that point we thought I didn't have a spare (I crawled underneath the RV on the side of the interstate while we were conversing and discovered to my great relief that we DID have a spare), and she thought she was going to have to send a tow truck.

At that point, however, she had access to every single piece of information that I had. And she had the Internet at her fingertips. Why didn't she Google how much a 30-foot 2003 Four Winds 5000 RV weighs?

I was still patting myself vigorously on the back for knowing that I was three miles north of Exit 47, which I gleaned from the "Where Am I?" feature on my GPS. (Rozmo had asked me what was the last exit I passed, and I had no clue. Does anyone keep track of that?) But I failed the pop quiz because I didn't know the weight of my RV. That was the only time I cried, I swear. She also asked if I knew the rim size of the tires, at which point I almost burst into maniacal gales of laughter.

Okay, I'm finished complaining, and I really shouldn't be nitpicking at all. I got the help I needed, and life as we know it has not been compromised at all. I do, however, have a couple of suggestions. And I would offer them to the insurance company itself, if not for the fact that they called me WHILE THE MAN WAS STILL CHANGING MY TIRE and wanted my feedback on my service call. I didn't even blame them for the fact that I had to wait about an hour and a half, NOR for their mistake when they told the service guy that I was on I-85 NORTH.

If I DID have the chance to give them some feedback, though, I think I would make the following suggestions:

  • If someone is calling because of an accident or needs assistance, have a way for that person to go straight to a living, breathing human being. Choosing from one of the following six menu options is not how I handle a crisis.
  • In this computer age, have access to some of the generic information like how much a certain RV weighs. Or at least allow an "I don't know" answer and proceed to the next question. Whose answer I probably won't know either.
  • Give it a day or two before you ask for my feedback. If the crisis is STILL IN PROGRESS, it's likely you don't want to hear my comments.
There. I'm done. I'll shelve this one. Cheer up - it's only 78 days until the college gymnastics season begins.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

People Who Make a Difference......

For some reason, at some point in the past few days, a college instructor (I don't think she was a professor) popped into my head. I hadn't thought about her in a long time, but I have thought about her a LOT over the years. Her name was (is?) Carolyn Herron, and she taught English at a small community college in Farmers Branch, Texas.

I was only 17 years old, but I had already put in two quarters (before the semester system) at the University of Georgia. Not very successful quarters. As in, headed for trouble quarters. My eldest sister, a single mom, had moved to the Dallas area with her two kids, so I decided to move out there with her, go to college, and help her with the kids. Having come from a "huge" institution such as UGA, I was all prepared to go to UT-Dallas, until I found out I had to be a junior to go there.

It being all last-minute and all, I decided to go to a community college a short distance from our apartment. Brookhaven Community College had only opened the semester before, so it was brand new. And I could get in on short notice. Win-win.

Carolyn Herron was my English teacher, and I have forever wished I had kept up with her. I would at least like for her to know that I became an English teacher myself, although I'm pretty sure I never reached her level. She was just so darn nice. NICE! Genuinely nice, not all fakey nice.

She had blond hair that may or may not have been a wig, and she always wore skirts, pantyhose, and heels. She also had a sing-songy voice that may have annoyed some people, but it accompanied her personality perfectly. (I used to refer to it as a "Romper Room" voice, until I realized I was likely the only living person left on earth who knew what Romper Room WAS, and besides I'm still pretty pissed that the woman on that show never saw ME in her magic mirror.)

On the second day of the semester, Ms. Herron was in the middle of calling roll when the door opened and a young man started in. This was back in the day when you should at least be apologetic, if not downright terrified, about coming into class even a couple of minutes late. Ms. Herron, though, stopped in her roll-calling, smiled (genuinely) at the young man, and said (all sing-songy, remember), "Good morning! And you are..."

The young man looked a little panic-stricken, not at his tardiness but at the voice he had encountered in a college classroom, and he blurted out, "In the wrong class!!" We all just laughed as he hightailed it out of there, Ms. Herron included.

We were reading a dramatic selection out of our anthology (I just like using the word "anthology") in class one day, and there were two parts. Ms. Herron asked for readers, but no one was volunteering. I finally put my hand up, not only to hasten the process but to bail out the teacher whose feelings I didn't want anyone else to hurt, and only then realized that of the two parts, only one actually had anything to say. The other one tried to interject but got interrupted by the talker every time. (Guess which role I got? Hmmm?) I wish I could remember the name of that story/play/whatever.

After class, Ms. Herron made a point to compliment me and suggested I might think about majoring in drama. I didn't have the heart to tell her I had seen some of the drama majors at UGA up close, and I didn't want to BE one of those people. (UGA has an awesome drama department, and I should know better than to be such a snob. Or something.)

Another day we had a big test, and I wasn't prepared. To be honest, there weren't many tests in college for which I WAS prepared. I had skated through high school without studying, and I had assumed college would be the same. (See: entry at "academic probation.) As she was handing out tests, Ms. Herron must have noticed my grim expression, because she stopped and asked if anything were wrong. I sort of shrugged and said, "I'm not prepared to take this test," and she asked me to step out in the hall.

She was genuinely concerned for me, and I told her my sister had been sick that weekend. (It was true. To this day I don't know what was wrong with Nurse Jane that weekend, but it scared me to death. At 17 everything is major anyway. I was afraid she was going to die, and all the responsibility would fall on me. I never said I was a MATURE 17-year-old.) Ms. Herron insisted that I go home, and she and I would make arrangements for a make-up test. I just stood there and stared at her, dumbfounded.

What a decent, sympathetic, understanding, HUMAN thing to do. A college instructor. Wow.

I wish I could say that singular experience turned my college career around and I was a stellar student thereafter, but that would be a lie. I moved back to my hometown, picked up my party life at UGA right where I had left off, and almost got kicked out of college because of my low GPA.

But I have never forgotten the kindness Carolyn Herron showed me in that English course. I hope somewhere, sometime along the way during my career, I have demonstrated a similar kindness.

As I was about to hit the "Publish" button for this blog entry, I remembered the beauty of the Internet and thought I would see if I could find out anything about my former teacher. Now I wish I hadn't. She died this past May after a long battle with cancer. In addition to her obituary, though, I found a blog post written by another of her former students entitled, "One Person Who Made a Difference for Me." I had already written the title for mine. That gives me goosebumps.

I'm not surprised that it wasn't just me. She was that kind of person.

Rest easy, Carolyn.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

I Almost Woke Up Dead.....

I didn't write about an additional crisis I suffered through this past glorious weekend, A) because I didn't want to taint a wonderful cycling experience with so much MORE negativism; and B) it's a tad embarrassing that I almost killed myself in my sleep.

After the horror of the trip down to Columbus for Georgia BikeFest (and I only realized later that the title of my blog post was just this side of stupid), Rozmo and I had a wonderful dinner in a lovely Thai restaurant, and I tried to stop mourning the fact that we didn't get to ride our bikes that day. I was grateful to have had the tire replaced, the gas line repaired, and arrived at BikeFest in time for registration. And dinner. Mostly dinner.

I invited Rozmo to stay with me in the RV, but she loves tent camping when the weather is nice, and she had a nice spot right next to the Chattahoochee River. We agreed on a time to meet the next morning, and we retired to our separate "tents." I fired up the generator on the RV so I would have electricity (no hook-ups when we are in a parking lot, sadly), put in my earplugs (not only is my generator kind of loud, but I was parked right next to some ungodly monstrosity that would have drowned out an invading army), and went to sleep.

After I had been asleep about an hour, I was awakened by a shrill, piercing noise. Even through my earplugs, it startled me awake, and my heart pounded. There was a moment of that I-just-woke-up-and-I'm-slightly-incoherent confusion, then I realized the sound I was hearing was the carbon monoxide alarm. In my RV.

I turned on a light to look at the panel. It said a green light was okay, a flashing red light was a medium warning, and a solid red light was a high warning. The very tiny print read that if the light was red and solid, I should seek fresh air and call 9-1-1.

It was a very solid red. And screaming bloody murder.

I didn't really know what to do. The alarm has malfunctioned before (!), but that was when we were NOT running the generator. The generator runs off gasoline, just like the motor. And it has an exhaust pipe. Just like a car. Just like people die from all the time, either intentionally or otherwise.

I got up and walked around outside, but the alarm kept going off intermittently. I didn't want to wake my fellow cyclists/campers, so I finally shut off the generator and opened the windows. Opening the windows may be the smartest thing I have EVER done. Not having the generator meant I wouldn't have my CPAP machine to sleep, but I had slept for years without it, so I figured I would just suffer through the night. It's not like my snoring would disturb anyone, not with that godawful machine next to me roaring all night.

I started thinking, "My head hurts just a little bit." And then I wondered if my head REALLY hurt, or if it was the power of suggestion. If there was enough carbon monoxide to set off the alarm, then I guess it's possible there was enough to cause a headache. 

I sat up for a while playing a stupid video game, terrified to go to sleep. I have been known to ignore car alarms and fire alarms, but I don't mess around with deadly odorless gases. Finally I went back to the bedroom area and looked at the light again, and it was green. I reluctantly went to bed and slept very fitfully.

The next morning I cranked the generator again, only to make coffee, and I mentioned the situation to one of my fellow cyclists/RV campers. (I love both of those groups of people, because we always take care of each other.) He came over and looked at the exhaust pipe, and it wasn't where it should have been. It was SORT OF sticking out from underneath the RV, but it wasn't STRAIGHT out like it should be. There is a clamp to keep it in place, but it was broken. I don't know if that also happened when the tire blew, or if it has been that way for a while and we just didn't know it. He pulled on the pipe for me (I could have done it myself the night before, but it was hot) and straightened it out. I was relieved but still a bit wary.

With the exhaust pipe in place, the fumes were blowing more straight out from the RV, and the alarm didn't go off anymore. I'm more grateful than I can say that we had an alarm and that it worked. When I told the story to Hubby on the phone, he said he was going to disconnect it when I got home because there was obviously something wrong with it. (He was just rattling my cage.)

After the ordeal was all over, I nearly drove myself crazy with the "what ifs."

What if the alarm hadn't worked?
What if (I don't know how, but what if) I hadn't heard the alarm?
What if Rozmo had come over the next morning and I hadn't responded?
What if someone had seen me with that CPAP mask on my face?

How long would it have taken for them to realize I hadn't merely overslept?
How would they have gotten into the RV? (One of the few times I've remembered to lock the doors, probably because I was alone.)
Who would have called Hubby?
Would he have wanted to leave the golf course?



Riding 100 miles on my bicycle was nothing compared to the trauma I went through just to get the weekend started.

I'm glad it turned out like it did. What an embarrassing way to die. 

Monday, October 15, 2012

Where'd You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple.....

Where'd You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple is one of those books that I want to write a review of REALLY FAST, before I stumble on a REAL review of it and find out I'm not as smart as I thought I was. That's the reason I never, never, never, never (at least not on purpose) read book reviews BEFORE I read the book. I'm too easily influenced (which must explain the reason I found myself in a bar in a college town long before I had reached the legal drinking age of 18), and I don't want my opinion of a book to be colored by someone else's opinion, even if that person is way smarter than I am and has ten more degrees than I do. (Pity the fool, as Mr. T would say.)

Keep in mind that I don't write official, literary book reviews. I don't go into too much detail about the plot because I don't want to give anything away, and I don't attempt any in-depth analysis of characters or literary worth. I just tell whether or not I liked it.

I liked it.

I liked it a lot.

This book was a quirky little thing, and I'm surprised that I liked it because I don't usually DO quirky. Well, I DO quirky, which is the main reason I don't appreciate it when anyone ELSE does quirky.

(What is UP with all these all-caps words? And the parenthetical comments? Puh-lease!)

The book is told through a series of emails, faxes, memos, handwritten notes (which might have had more oomph if they had actually appeared handwritten, which they may have in print but not in the ebook I read on my iPad), notes home from school, scientific reports, doctors' reports, investigative reports, and occasional narration from the point of view of 15-year-old Bee (Balakrishna, no wonder she goes by "Bee") Branch. Her mother is a genius MacArthur-grant-winning former architect (I only found out what a MacArthur grant was the other day), and her father is a genius who works for Microsoft.

This book is delightfully funny, and not in that forced way that authors sometimes use where the reader just knows the author was trying to make him or her laugh. I found myself laughing out loud and asking myself, "Was that SUPPOSED to be funny?" After a while I realized that yes, it was supposed to be funny. It was a lot of funny. Just one example: One part had a frantic email from one character to another, and she was using a computer in a cyber cafe in some not-technologically-on-top-of-things country. She was running out of time, the computer kept substituting "b" for "g" and "g" for "b" and the comma key kept repeating. I'm not telling it very well, but trust me, it was hilarious.

It wasn't just the humor that kept me reading, though. It was a can't-put-it-down that I really couldn't put down, and not JUST when I was sitting up late because I didn't want to die from carbon monoxide poisoning. (That's a blog post for another night.)

I plan to look up some more books by this author. I hope her other ones are just as entertaining as this one.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

BikeFest Sunday.....

I would like to break up the monotony of words with a few photos from today's ride, but sadly I didn't take any. Not one photograph. I'm an abject failure as a cyclist/photographer.

The Sunday ride on a 3-day weekend ride is sort of a weird thing. We approach it more casually, maybe because it's the last day. We think of it as "only a 40-mile ride," but maybe that's because it's so much shorter than the 100 miles we rode yesterday. There aren't many times I would leave home and say I'm "only" going to ride 40 miles. Some people might tell me, as I told Rita yesterday, that "only" and "40 miles" don't belong in the same sentence. Oddly enough, we ride at a more relaxed pace, even though most of us are already packed up and ready to go home.

Today's route began and ended on the beautiful Riverwalk. It's so pretty, winding along next to the river and seeing the fishing boats out early in the morning. We also went to Fort Benning, where we had to produce a photo i.d. to get back ON the base. We had already BEEN there and had ridden past it to get to a rest stop, and we had to produce i.d. to get back ON. Huh? How can one get on the fort at one point and then leave it, only to have to identify oneself to get back to where you were in the first place? (I apologize for the poor pronoun reference in the preceding sentence. I'm too tired to be my usual grammatically perfect self.)

I was hoping Rozmo wouldn't notice that our total mileage for the weekend was going to be 193 miles. I just knew she would insist we ride an additional 7 miles, and while that wouldn't have been debilitating, I was ready to go home. And I wanted to get on the road before the Falcons kicked off so I could A) listen to the game; and B) get through Atlanta before the game ended, since I would be driving the RV almost right by the stadium. When she DID realize it, though, she didn't even mention wanting to "round up" our mileage to 200. Whew. I think she was ready to go home too.

That's likely our last multi-day ride for this year. I would love to do the North Florida Tour again (first weekend in November), but only if they can guarantee I won't nearly freeze to death this time. But it conflicts with football anyway, so I'm not even entertaining the idea.

Even with all the crises (and I haven't even written about one of them yet, because I didn't want it to sound like I was looking for things to go wrong), it was a good weekend. But I'm glad to be home. As always.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

BikeFest Saturday........

Well, we thought it would be a good idea. Again this year.

Riding the century ride, that is.

We had promises of it being better than last year because the roads were NOT Alabama roads. And that was correct.

Still, 100 miles is 100 miles, and it was pretty miserable toward the end. Correction: It was pretty miserable toward the middle. From the middle to the end was a special form of hell all by itself. Correction: From the middle to 10 miles from the end was a special form of hell all by itself. The last 10 miles were heavenly. But I may be in the market for a butt transplant. (It isn't really the butt, but to discuss the actual anatomical location would be indelicate. To say the least.)

Our first 10 miles today were on a bike path that is shady and fairly flat, and naturally free of traffic, so those were pleasant miles. We knew we would also return by the same path, so as Rita kept saying, "We really only have to ride 90 miles, because those last 10 are like a gift." I finally told her that "90 miles" and "only" didn't belong in the same sentence.

There were times today when I thought I should make a point to hang out with Rita more. She's so positive, so upbeat, so cheerful. All. The. Damn. Time. At about mile 75, though, when she said in her best cheerleader-type voice, "Guys, we're three quarters of the way through, and it's the hardest three quarters!!!!!" I almost told her to put a sock in it. There's really only so much cheerfulness a person can stand, especially on a 100-mile bike ride.

Rita was kind enough to stay with us all day, however, even though I'm pretty sure she had to dial it back a few notches (most of her notches?) to ride at the pace Rozmo and I tend to keep. I thought it was because she's much fitter and about ten years younger than I am, then I found out she is the same age I am. I'm trying not to hate her guts. I didn't always stay right with them, but I was never far behind, and I always caught up.

Rita kept saying that at mile 55 we would be at the highest point of the day, and it was "all downhill after that." I didn't want to come off as a Negative Nancy (sorry to any of you named Nancy out there), so I didn't point out that just because we had passed the HIGHEST point of the day, that didn't mean we wouldn't still have to do some ups-and-downs. I didn't want to dampen her enthusiasm. Wait...yes I did. Only it's impossible to dampen Rita's enthusiasm.

There were some awesome fraternity boys manning a couple of the rest stops, and they were truly delightful. They were selling pink bracelets to raise money for breast cancer awareness, so naturally I bought one. Rozmo bought five. Overachiever. One of the fraternity boys also served as the designated driver for his friends last night, so he was operating on about 30 minutes of sleep. On the century day. And he was smiling the whole time. Gotta love him.

When we got back and went to get our precious, prized bandanas, I came out to find my water bottle on the ground. I didn't think much of it, until I realized the cage was broken. A gentleman (?) came over and apologized, saying he was the guilty party, he wasn't watching what he was doing and knocked my bike over. (That's almost akin to someone keying your car.) He saw me standing there with the pieces of my water bottle cage in my hand, but he didn't offer to pay for the damage. (I probably would have refused anyway, but still.) Only after I had the bike back at the RV did I realize that BOTH water bottle cages were broken, and it cost me $36 to replace them. I could have managed with one, but not with zero. I could also have had carbon cages for $100, but water bottle cages is not an area in which I'm inclined to splurge.

This is Ken, Janet, and Janet's daughter Courtney. Until Friday, Courtney had never been on a bike ride longer than 15 miles. She rode 50 on Friday and 100 today. I bow down to her.

Rita and Rozmo. This was at the rest stop at the end of the trail at mile 10. It was also the rest stop at mile 90, but I was pretty much over taking pictures by then. They were still smiling, however. Especially the ever-cheerful Rita.

This is Dragos, and I love his name. I love almost everything about him, except for the fact that he is an Auburn grad. I first met Dragos on the bike ride in Iowa (either 2004 or 2006, I can't remember which), and we've run into each other a couple of times a year since then. He is delightful, and a kick-ass rider. Ah, youth.

Me, Rita, and Rozmo with our bandanas. Right before I fond out about the idiot breaking my water bottle cages. I mean, the nice gentleman who confessed to knocking my bike over.

I hung my bandana up in the RV, and I can't bring myself to take it down. It may still be there next year when time for BRAG comes around in June.
This was my eighth century, and while the smart thing would be to say it will be my last, I'm not known for being smart or having a good memory. Like childbirth, the agony of riding the century will fade, and I'll pony up to do another one. Even with Rita. If I don't put a merciful end to her undying cheerfulness.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Georgia BikeFest 2012 Friday.....

EDITED TO ADD: I have no idea what happened to this post last night. I'm pretty sure I clicked "Publish," but I can't guarantee it. I will back date it so it doesn't look like I have two posts on the same night. Because I'm weird that way. 

Tonight you get somewhat of a break from my yammering. I took a few photos on today's ride, but not enough to capture the essence of the day.

Rozmo and I waited until about 9:00 to leave this morning, which was heavenly compared to the 6:00 AM we usually try to leave on BRAG. We wanted to give it a chance to warm up so we wouldn't have to dress in layers that we would later have to take off. And try to track down a sag vehicle to retrieve them when we got back.

Today's route was the Saturday route from last year, which basically means it sucked. A lot of shake and bake (that's we call rough pavement), and it was almost entirely in Alabama. Strike two. Lots of hills, but we couldn't complain about the weather. It was very pleasant when we left, and while it got hot this afternoon, we've ridden in a lot worse heat.

Rozmo makes the cutest pictures. She does silly things and looks adorable. When I do silly things, I look stupid. I'm trying not to hate her for it.

We stopped to take a picture of Poorhouse Road, and Rozmo found a campaign sign for someone with her same last name. In fact, except for the "y" in Roy, it could have been Rozmo running for chief justice.

Rozmo was supposed to be taking a picture of me under the Poorhouse Road sign, but we had a delay while I got the fire ants out of my cycling sandals. I didn't even curse.

See what I mean? I look dorky.

I'm afraid my attempt at a photo essay didn't come through very well. I was trying to convey the idea that if I DO go to the poorhouse, it will be due to the expenses associated with cycling.

This is the river above which we are camped. This is before they let the water through, which they do at 3:00 every day.

Looking downstream. Or upstream. In the other direction.

I have no idea what this contraption is called, but it will accommodate seven "cyclists," one of whom must be the driver.

Me, Rozmo, Cheryl, Chuck, and Jerry. Steve joined us after this picture was taken, and when we started figuring out how to drive it, we were joined by Ramsey (isn't that a cool name?), a young lady who works for the bike shop. She took us a couple spins around the block, even among the spectators gathered to listen to the band. I love street dances. But I didn't dance this year.

Rozmo, Steve and I had dinner at a place where they have a $30 hamburger, and if you can eat it -- alone -- in under 30 minutes, you can have it for free. It's three hamburgers with all the toppings, PLUS you have to finish off the chili cheese fries that go with it.