Monday, April 25, 2005

Return of the Prairie Wind

Sometimes a gal has to be determined if she wants to get in her bike ride every few days. Friday I didn't ride because it rained; Saturday I didn't ride because it had just rained, and there was a ferocious wind; Sunday things were drier, but there was still a ferocious wind, and I rode anyway. I was the only bicyclist out there. I decided to do my standard short ride of 10.5 miles, and it wasn't so bad because I didn't worry about going fast, but I was continually worried that I would tip over or be blown off the trail. I felt like a swimmer traveling at an angle to the undertow.

I remember when I was a kid, and I could never seem to find days that were windy enough to fly a kite. Must have been a quiet year!

There are several good turnaround points for short rides on the Heritage Trail out of Dyersville. I can turn around at the large tree after 3.2 miles, which I do when I take my mom out with her antique Schwinn. I can turn around at the birch stand at the 4-mile mark, a lovely spot. I can turn around at the crest of the hill after 4.75 miles. But I prefer to ride to the raised roadbed at 5.25 miles, and get a good rolling start on my way back down.

However, my favorite turnaround spot is the willow-shrouded pond with the swans at the 9-mile mark. I'll wait for a calmer day.

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Saturday, April 23, 2005

How to Describe Women's Shape

Plain and simple: I don't like the terms "pear shape" and "apple shape." Although descriptive, they are pedestrian, completely suburban and domesticated. I say "apple shape" would be better called "Diana shape," because I for one far more closely resemble a huntress than an apple. The other shape could be "Hera," except that the powerful queen of the gods has something of a bad rep. However, I bet Aphrodite was pleasantly rounded in the hips, and the men were absolutely wild for it, so I'll propose "Aphrodite shape."

A number of women prefer one shape or the other--either they say wide hips are more womanly, or they groan to think of all the months they would have to spend at the gym to acquire a narrow build. I think both shapes are pretty awesome and ought to get a lot more respect. Fruit bowls, indeed.

I got to thinking about shapes because Elantu just sent me copies of the Celtic warrior women sketches she drew from poses I did for her. She took some artistic license, but parts of the warriors look like my parts. She obligingly tells me what people say to her about the drawings, and we laugh. "Are her shoulders really that broad?" (Yes.) "Hmph."

But no, my fingers are not that long, and my calves are longer. Also, when I swing a sword, I appear calm and happy and fierce, but not, I think, aggressive. I'm not really a warrior in real life; I'm a huntress. Even my warrior friends say so.

But although I eat apples, especially with bleu cheese on them, nevertheless, I am not what I eat.

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Friday, April 22, 2005

Spring Bicycling

I enjoy exercise, but I don't so much like to exert myself. Monday I went out for a 12-mile road ride to the historic triple span Sutliff Bridge over the Cedar River, and I only traversed about 5 miles. I remembered why it was that I never rode very far when I was a kid:
1) The roads are hilly.
2) The prairie wind can be so strong that it carries away air that I'm in the middle of trying to breathe.
3) There are cars.

I have worked out a town ride that I enjoy, to the Mount Vernon library and back home, about 8 miles round trip, a good thing to do in the evening after work.

People keep asking me if I'll participate in RAGBRAI, the Register's Annual Great Bike Ride Across Iowa. I tell them no, but now I'll tell them NO WAY. I'll hit an offroad bike trail this weekend.


Saturday, April 02, 2005

I'm Green and I'm Proud

I tried some new produce recently, Lacinato kale. Lacinato kale snorts dismissively as it declares that Kermit the Frog is a wimp. It is easy being green, provided you've got the constitution for it.

I did a little research and found out that Lacinato kale is also called dinosaur kale, which explains its attitude. Kale is even tougher than the dinosaurs in one way; it can survive in subzero temperatures. You just suspend a blanket over it to keep the snow off. Then you put on your snow boots, your parka, and your gardening gloves, and you reach underneath the blanket and presto! Vitamin K and molybdenum!

I should cook some for my mother this year. Her doctor told her she should eat kale, so she put some mature leaves in a salad and was sufficiently scarred by the experience that she has never eaten kale again. I don't blame her, either!

There's an absolutely charming website run by people who love kale even more than I do, and are Buffy fans, and also have a somewhat raucous kitchen, in which you cook whatever comes your way. Check out their unconquerable kale logo.


Friday, April 01, 2005

Magdalena: Gainfully Employed

For the rest of the week Magdalena worked diligently at the snack bar, making sure the furnishings were round and there was plenty of food, most of it things that would freeze well. She never saw Craig again that week; what a shame, he was so friendly and cheerful.

Despite the galling lack of a cute ski instructor, she enjoyed her work and its responsibilities. Friday she celebrated the end of her first week at her new job by buying a hanging orange fuchsia plant to provide her other hanging giant with some company in the living room. He had seemed a tad more...male...than usual on Monday, and she thought it was time to find him a female companion with leaves.

Saturday and Sunday she spent the entire day at Mittelmont. Outside the snow swirled in the fog, and from inside the lodge it was impossible to tell whether the storm was natural or artificial.

John dropped by on Saturday. “Oh, hello, you’re still here!” He smiled, looking at once pleased, surprised, apologetic, and scheming. “I’m sorry, I forgot your name. Not that you’re not memorable, but a lot of people. Ski resort opening, you know.”


“Maggie!” He slapped himself on the forehead, hard. “Of course! Maggie! I’m John, if you don’t remember.” She did. “Well, I hope you’ll be around for a while. What are you doing here now?”

“Running the snack bar,” said Magdalena, hoping to sound curt. She decided to drop a hint, too. “It keeps me very busy.”

“Oh yeah, busy, busy!” he drawled, pulling up a round barstool and plopping his angular behind down onto it. “I know I’m working hard, that is, when I’m not hardly working!” He laughed. “That snow machine’s a bitch—excuse me, a bear—to keep running. Damn thing’s brand new, but I’ll be d--, a monkey’s uncle, if it runs worth a spit. I’m out there all the time. Good thing I’ve got a good schedule worked out with my community service! Exes. You know?”

Magdalena shook her head mutely, keeping her expression blank.

“You don’t got an ex? Or you’re just not saying? Just as well. We’d probably sit here and talk all day, and I know something’s broke by now. Better go fix it!”

“Bye.” The word squeezed itself out between Magdalena’s lips in spite of her attempt to maintain a distant, withering silence. Why, why did she feel this irritating, self-destructive compulsion to be polite? Well, you never know, at least this way he can’t tell Amanda she was rude to him. That’s a good thing.

So he thought she’d already be fired by now! Of all the nerve. She shook her head violently and refocused her attention on her job.