Tour de Farms – Another Year in the Bag

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The mighty Power Pedallers: Dave, Kevin, Cookie, Beth, Danielle, me and David.
MIA: Randy, Natalie, and Sandy. But they biked that day, honest!

Bike MS has come and gone, and it was an adventure! While we didn’t miss dinner (the greatest fear of Bilbo Baggins), we did bike many miles (50 for Beth and me) in 90-degree heat, with 67% humidity, uphill, into a 15 mph wind.

Okay that last two claims were, of course, a slight exaggeration. I’ve yet to do any bike course that was uphill the entire way. And if you have a 15 mph headwind when you’re going south, it stands to reason that when you’re going north, it’s a tailwind. However…at one point, there’s a 17-mile stretch (mostly south, into the wind) with no scheduled rest stops. In the past, we’ve been able to get through it without needing to stop in between, but this year a lot of people sought out shade so they could gather strength to carry on. Several of us were sitting around under a tree in front of a farm house (this was Tour de Farms, after all) and we began to complain of this year’s challenges, each person seeking to top the person who spoke before. When we got to the point that someone said, “in the snow”, the next person said, “barefoot,” and I said, “and we liked it!” we figured we were done.

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A blurry picture of me, grasping the medal I got for finishing

Here’s a shout out to BK, Sis, my cousin Steve, and friend Alan, for making the most awesome cheering section ever, and to all the generous people who sponsored me and thus, have contributed to MS research and support to those who are dealing with this disease. This has been my best year yet, in terms of fundraising. As of this writing, I’ve made 95% of my (admittedly ambitious) goal of $2500. I have until July 30 to meet it, so if you wanted to donate but haven’t yet, it’s not too late. Tour de Farms donations are being accepted until July 30. The link to my donation page is here.

Thanks so much to donors Lorie & Steve, Eileen (with Pat & Kat), Randy, Cecelia & Brian, Mickey, Danny & Lori, Rita & Kishin, Praful, the Ratay family, Rocky, Katie, Jay & Elizabeth, Ann, and Beth. I hope I haven’t missed anyone; please let me know if I have.

Bike MS Tour de Farms is this weekend!

And How Cookie Achieved her Nom de Voyage

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Cookie and I have participated in Tour de Farms since 2013. In addition to raising funds for the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, this ride is just plain fun. We’ve enjoyed it so much, we’ve been recruiting others to join us. This year our friend Beth will ride with us for the first time. She has always called Cookie by her given name.

Now it can be told: Cookie’s baptismal name is Eileen.

Anyway, Beth noticed that Eileen always signs her emails about the event with the name “Cookie.” Beth asked if Cookie was Eileen’s “biker name.” Since BK is the one responsible for the fact that Eileen’s nickname has stuck, I suggested that he be the one to explain it to Beth.

Here is his account:

About 3 years ago, on a Sunday morning, Catherine and Eileen were engaged in a bicycling outing with a group from a local bike shop. The path they were riding, as many paths do, crossed a street. Catherine managed to cross successfully. Eileen had the misfortune to catch her front tire in a break in the pavement, whereupon her bicycle, feeling rather unsettled by this unexpected turn of events, refused to roll on. In this instance, the intransigent attitude of her bicycle was in direct opposition to the laws of physics, particularly those dealing with conservation of momentum and angular motion.

Eileen was thrown from her bike into the street, landing principally on her head but not without significant contact with other body areas that led the way in her flight to the asphalt. I cannot fully describe the extent of her injuries. Fortunately, she is a physician and can explain these in detail to you should you ask. For my part, I will say that she had a concussion, an injury to her brain (opposite the point of impact, I think, with the brain compressing against the skull from her momentum at impact, and a broken collar bone.

— A pause for a safety message from BK

Our dear friend Eileen in a sensible woman. She wore sturdy shoes, appropriate garb on arms and legs for protection, and the most beautiful little helmet you ever saw. Now, if you had seen her helmet before the crash, you might have remarked “Nice helmet” but probably walked off thinking “No big deal.” However, if you observed the helmet’s postmortem, you might rather be inclined to walk away in amazement how this selfless piece of attire gave its life – figuratively – to protect our friend, Eileen. If you did not see the pictures on Facebook, it must suffice to say that one of her nurses requested permission to photograph it to show her children why they should wear helmets when riding.

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Eileen’s defunct helmet, with cracked foam circled in red

— Now, back to the story —

Through weeks of rest and care from her doctor and his staff, Eileen recovered. Oh, certainly, there were headaches. Sometimes her neck bothered her (while other times she was able to sleep through it). Bruised and battered limbs, abraded skin, collar bone knitting, cranial swelling slowly returning to normal, she soldiered on.

On a visit to her physician’s office, as is probably standard practice for doctors performing follow-up examinations, her doctor had her sit on an elevated examination table for him to assess her condition and judge the progress of her recovery. Satisfied that she was mending, he completed the exam and told her that she could get down from the table. He no doubt expected her to ease off the table, using the step alongside to relieve stress on her bruised and battered extremities and to help her maintain balance in the transition. He was, therefore, rather surprised when she hopped directly to the floor without trepidation.

“My, you are one tough cookie!” he pronounced.

When Eileen told us the story of her visit, I could only agree that this was perhaps the best, most fitting diagnosis I had ever heard. From there, what else could we call her? So, I guess it is her biker name and one day maybe we will get her a leather jacket with that name tooled across the back. For now, it is our term of endearment for a good friend, a reminder of how important helmets are, and a sign of respect for one tough cookie.

BK’s note: I did not mean this to be so long, but as another great woman once remarked, “My husband never uses one word when three are available.”

CB’s note: I only edited BK’s account slightly, as I wanted to retain the entertaining flavor of his authorial voice.

If you’re inclined to donate to any of our rides, here are our links:
Beth, Cookie, me.

See National Multiple Sclerosis Society Illinois Chapter for helpful information about MS.

Primary!

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I voted.

It’s March 15, 2016 in the United States of America. Do you know where your polling place is?

If you live in Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada  (some of y’all), South Carolina, Alabama, Alaska  (some of y’all), American Samoa (some of y’all), Arkansas, Colorado, Georgia, Massachusetts, Minnesota, North Dakota  (some of y’all), Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, Virginia, Wyoming (some of y’all), Kansas, Kentucky  (some of y’all), Louisiana, Maine, Nebraska  (some of y’all), Puerto Rico (some of y’all), Hawaii  (some of y’all), Idaho  (some of y’all), Michigan, Mississippi, Virgin Islands  (some of y’all), Guam  (some of y’all), Northern Marianas (some of y’all), or the District of Columbia  (some of y’all):
Thanks for voting already!

If you live in Florida, Illinois, Missouri, North Carolina, Northern Mariana Islands (some of y’all), Ohio and you already voted:
Thanks! You’re what America is all about!

If you haven’t voted yet:
You still have time! At least, you did when I posted this…

If you live in American Samoa (some of y’all), Arizona, Idaho  (some of y’all), Utah, Alaska  (some of y’all), Hawaii  (some of y’all), Washington, Wisconsin, Wyoming  (some of y’all), New York, Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Indiana, Guam  (some of y’all), Nebraska  (some of y’all), West Virginia, Kentucky  (some of y’all), Oregon, Virgin Islands  (some of y’all), Puerto Rico  (some of y’all), California, Montana, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Dakota  (some of y’all), South Dakota, or the District of Columbia  (some of y’all):
Remember to vote!

For a reward (and/or bribe), here’s a link to a Helpful Chart about Elections and Bitching.

Borderline

Sorry I’ve been MIA lately. It has really been hard to keep up with the blogging, between the writing and the reading I’ve needed to accomplish lately.

Speaking of reading, as soon as I’m finished with some reading I need to do for work, I absolutely know what I’m reading next.

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Borderline by Mishell Baker

I preordered this for Kindle and got it as soon as it was available (March 1). I read the first page aloud to BK, and we’ve both found our next book. He doesn’t do e-books, so I bugged my library to order it. So far it doesn’t show up as being available in my home library, but here’s what the system says about it:

A cynical, paraplegic screenwriter with borderline personality disorder is recruited into a secret organization that oversees relations between Hollywood and Fairyland, receiving as a first assignment a search for a missing film star with ties to Tinseltown’s darkest secrets.

Thank god for interlibrary loan!

Van Gogh’s Bedrooms

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The Art Institute representation of Bedroom in Arles

Vincent Van Gogh only inhabited this earth for 37 years, and in that time, he lived in 37 different places. That could be why,  when he got to Arles and finally signed a lease on a little house of his own, the theme of home emerged so gloriously in his work. Of course, he had represented places where he’d lived before then. But after arranging his house in Arles, he painted his bedroom not once, but three different times. You may think you’ve seen his famous bedroom painting if you’ve been to Van Gogh museum in Amsterdam. Another person might claim he saw it in the Musée D’Orsay in Paris, while a third would insist she’s seen it at the Art Institute of Chicago.

They would all be right. However, right now all three versions are being exhibited—side by side—at the Art Institute through May 10, 2016. This is the first time all three have been exhibited together in North America. This show has been ten years in the making

Van Gogh tried many lines of work, only realizing he was an artist the last 10 years of his life. In that 10 year span, he painted 900 canvases.

There’s so much to love about this exhibit. Many pieces by Van Gogh, Milliet, and others put the piece in context. There’s a re-creation of his bedroom that you can walk up to, though not into.

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The Night Café by Vincent Van Gogh

The biggest surprise for me was in the last room, just before you get to the gift shop. Plan to spend a little time in the Night Café, which is set up to suggest a café in Arles where Van Gogh sometimes hung out. It doesn’t function at all like an actual café, but it does play a wonderful video loop which shows the many, many ways Van Gogh was celebrated in other media, especially film, television, by other artists, and in comics. And yes, the Doctor Who episode (the one that always makes me weep like a tiny little girl) was represented.

 

Readings for Black History Month…and after

 

I’ve read a few things that remind me that we Americans are not done, that there’s plenty of work needed to make our country live up to its stated ideals.

Internet articles:

Books:

 

I still want/need to read the following books:

 

Yes, I know there are more books I could (and should) read, and if you have something in particular to recommend, please share it in the comments.

I also know that reading alone won’t get me/us there. That requires action. But reading can enlighten us, inspire us, and set us on the path.

 

Another Stinking Badge

They made a new badge on 750words.com and I’ve earned it!

At some point in the last couple of months, the lovely and talented Kellianne (or maybe her lovely and talented spouse, Buster) introduced a new badge for those who have written 1 million words. They call it the mega flock. I’m not sure when I received it; I just noticed it the other day.

Previous readers of this blog may remember that I threw a party to celebrate my millionth (verifiable) written word way back in August of 2014, but 750 Words didn’t have the badge then.

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Here’s what it looks like

I love stinking badges and other silly ways to gamify any improvement in my work habits. Thanks again, Kellianne and Buster, for keeping me on task.

For those of you who don’t know what 750words.com is, or what it purports to do, I talk about it here.

You can find the 750 Words site here.