Sunday, August 31, 2014

Feat #22: Over the Interstate and Through the West Fields

Please forgive me. I am still on a honeymoon with my new bike.

Sometimes on Sundays, I head to work at the jail to meet with inmates who have jobs they go to during the rest of the week. Today I decided to ride my bike there. It's only about 12 miles round trip.

A bit of a Sabbath meditation.

Except for about a third of the way there when I realized I'd forgotten my ID badge (Roger rescued me by bringing it). And then about two thirds of the way there when I bounced over some railroad tracks and my chain came off and jammed between the sprocket and the guard (a nice couple in a pickup truck stopped to help and gave me a few napkins to get the grease off my hands).

There isn't a bike rack near the entrance, so I improvised. I know a bike locked up to sign post can be stolen. But I also know the place is monitored by a surveillance system. And it's full of people with authority to make an arrest. I figured I'd risk it.

My bike and I both made it home. We're a good match. I think we'll be very happy together.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

On a Roll

Today's bicycling adventure involved checking on the progress of the new reservoir Springville city is building near the mouth of Hobble Creek Canyon (beach! swimming! next summer! a mile from my house!). I decided to take the long way around through Mapleton, enjoying our unseasonably low 70-ish degree weather.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Il Postino

As I considered a post office run late this afternoon, I realized I had just enough time to get there by bike. I put on my matching sunglasses, wrapped the packages in plastic bags because it looked a bit like rain, put them in my basket, and headed off.

I arrived at the post office with time to spare because it was downhill and today it was also downwind! Of course, that meant the ride back was uphill and upwind.

The hair looks a little wacky, but I made it home intact!

Monday, August 25, 2014

Into the Desert of Mortification and Reward

Choosing to read last night paid off because I came across this delicious quote from Voss, set in 19th century Australia, written by Patrick White in the 1950s, and which I've got to finish by a book club meeting on Thursday.

Few people of attainments take easily to a plan of self-improvement. Some discover very early their perfection cannot endure the insult. Others find their intellectual pleasure lies in the theory, not the practice. Only a few stubborn ones will blunder on, painfully, out of the luxuriant world of their pretensions into the desert of mortification and reward.

Good timing for this college writing instructor who will be back in the classroom tomorrow, facing a new group of students who will be critiquing my performance.

I confess that I am still slightly reeling from one particular student's audacity in his final reflective essay last April after he was especially challenging in the classroom all semester. I am feeling slightly vulnerable. But I am trying to endure the insult, put theory for improving my performance into practice, and be willing to blunder on.

Sunday, August 24, 2014


I could write about one of the million things that is always running around in my brain, but there's an awesome storm tonight. I'm sitting in the living room with some windows wide open, and I'd rather curl up with a book and listen to the thunder and rain.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

My Birthday Present Came

Which was actually unexpected. A few days ago, the bike shop called to say it was lost in shipment and they had no idea when it would come. But then last night they called to say it was here and all assembled and ready to pick up! So we went to get it this morning (after stopping for waffles).

Maybe next year I'll get a proper bike rack.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Lucky, Lucky, Lucky

I've been restless the last few days.

So when I left work this afternoon to meet Jack after school and discovered a text message from him that he was heading to a friend's house, I was all of a sudden free.

And then I realized that I had a book I need to read in my bag, so if I went somewhere besides home, I could still get something done.

And then I realized that because Roger needed the car to go to Salt Lake for some meetings today and I was driving the Jeep, I was not only free but roofless. And the sky was blue as blue.

So I headed west to Lincoln Beach feeling lucky.

When I got there a couple of guys by the boat ramp asked if I had jumper cables. I did and we got their truck started again. Lucky.

Before settling in to read my book, I called Roger to check in. He was heading home from Salt Lake and told me about the storm he'd driven through and which was heading my way. I looked north and saw this. It was going to take me half an hour to get home. Without a roof. I took my chances and read a chapter first. Home before the rain reached me. Lucky.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Maybe I Really Can Do It

This morning a neighbor told me about the time she found what they thought was a tarantula on their driveway. They put it in a jar and took it to a biology professor friend for confirmation. It was a tarantula. In our neighborhood.

But all I could think about was how I had learned the word for spider in Spanish just last night. And I was so excited that I could remember it.

Una araña. Sí puedo.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Ein Wettbewerb or Un Concurso

Jack has randomly decided to take German this year. Well, maybe not totally randomly. Many of his friends are also taking German. And when he was little he always made me play the German version of the Bob the Builder theme song when we visited the show's website. And whenever we talk about going to Europe someday, the city he wants most to visit is Berlin. So not totally randomly.

I want to learn Spanish. I've studied it in fits and starts over the years without much progress. Now that Jack only has three years of school left, and less than three years until he turns an independent 18, I'm more determined than ever to learn. I want to be prepared for the next phase of my life, and I think that knowing some Spanish could open up some valuable opportunities for me.

So in honor of Jack's first day of German class, I set up a Duolingo account and have already earned three "lingots" (the program's virtual currency) by practicing Spanish words and phrases. I know at some point, I will have to find real people to converse with, but this is at least a place to start.

And it's free.

And it's competitive. I can link up with friends who have accounts and compete to see who earns the most lingots. I'm going to see if Jack wants to set up an account to practice his German.

Anyone else want in? Click here to see what languages they have courses for. Then sign up and come find me there! I could use the pressure.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Pencils (More Than You Think)

Last night I told Jack that I would pick up some school supplies for him after my fall orientation meetings on campus today, but I needed a list. Tenth grade starts tomorrow.

He owned it. Went through the things he already had and put together a detailed list. 

Pencils (more than you think)
Erasable pens (like 4+)
Paper (college ruled)
Spare 1" binder, maybe 2 (because then, he explained as we went over the list, he could have one for A days and one for B days)
And so on.

I'm taking this as a good sign that he's gearing up to own tenth grade in its entirety.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Feat #21: Eyes Wide Open

I faced down a demon with this one.

I used to swim with goggles (to protect my contact lenses) across the Spanish Oaks reservoir until one day something totally freaked me out. You can read that story here: What Lies Beneath.

Jack and his friend Rex at the reservoir, circa 2007
Since then, instead of really swimming across, I do a leisurely breast stroke without putting my face in the water or I just do 10 or 12 freestyle strokes at a time with my eyes closed before getting too far off course.

Frankly, it's ridiculous.

So for this feat I swam a nice, hard, steady freestyle across the reservoir and back, with goggles, eyes wide open. All I saw was green murky depth. Not a single dead body. It felt good.

Thursday, August 07, 2014

Feat #20: The Approach

A couple of weeks ago, I watched my 81-year-old uncle dive off the diving board, classic springboard approach and all.

I thought, "I hope I can still do that when I'm 81!"

Then I realized that, now at 51, I couldn't remember the last time I dove off the diving board using an approach. If I dive off the board at all, I just stand at the end and dive. Usually, though, I just dive off the pier.

I thought, "If I want to be doing it at 81, I'd better start doing it again now."

So I did. And I made Jack witness it with a recording:

Yeah, I need to work a little on my form. Keep those feet together. I'll be practicing over the next 30 years.