Thursday, February 21, 2008

Happy Birthday Mom

Created with Admarket's flickrSLiDR.

Happy Birthday Mom. A year ago we had dinner at the Equinox (free, 'cause they never let you pay for anything after you got sick). You had the shrimp appetizer named after Desmond's daughter (that you couldn't eat) and he made you a specially created sugar free dessert that was the envy of all the tables around us.

And a few days later we had a huge birthday party at SEI with decorations and a DJ and about a hundred of your closest friends and family. I don't know what pain you bulled your way through to even get there, considering you spent all your energy out shopping with your sisters earlier in the day, but you did get there (late of course!) and you even danced, and I knew it would be your last time.

Hard to believe that was only a year ago. Hard to believe that was a whole year ago. Hard to believe your ashes are sitting in a pretty urn on my bookshelf and I'm never going to hear your laugh or get to say the same thing at the same time or finish your sentences, or get you that granny bike that I promised you.

Hard to believe that from now on, on this day, I'll think to myself, today she would have been __ (56).

I sure do miss you. Hope you and uncle Jonathan are having a party, wherever you are.


Saturday, February 16, 2008

New Love

Well I didn't really expect to meet anyone special on Valentines's not like I'm not insanely happy with the sweetie I've got (and vice versa). But we went on a date to the Portland Cello Project with our friends Lisa and Spike and were unexpectedly smitten with one of the special guest performers named Lindsay Mac.

The MC let it be known that Lindsay was what's known as a 'stander' in cello circles and we got the feeling she was sort of a lovable black sheep of the classically trained set.

And then we saw what he meant:

You've never heard cello played like this. If you like what you hear, check out these sites:

Lindsay's page
Lindsay's MySpace

We're already working on getting her to move from Boston to Portland so we can stalk her properly.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Baby Steps

I've been making noises about getting back on my bike more for a couple of weeks now. I told a few too many people my plan so this morning I actually had to follow through.

The plan was simple. Start riding my bike to school. Not the 'ride to Cascade campus a few miles away and take the shuttle' ride, but the 'get off your lazy butt and ride the 13 hilly miles to Sylvania campus' ride.

In my sadly out of shape condition, I wouldn't think of doing this on anything but my trusty road bike, even though I don't normally like to commute on it. Things were going to be challenging enough already.

Last night I even got her down, filled the tires, lubed the chain and put the fenders on, just so I wouldn't have any excuses.

I made the trip in about 1 hour, 20 minutes and it confirmed without a doubt that I'm in sad shape.

Class is supposed to be two hours, but usually runs short--but I was there the full two hours today and a good thing too. I needed the rest. The whole round trip was 26 miles and when I got home, I was whipped. I had planned to do more homework tonight, but it's been all I could do to hold my head up. It feels like it weighs fifty pounds (shut up Traci) and when did my eyelids get so heavy?

In another way though, I feel fantastic. I've missed that pleasantly sore feeling that means I've actually used my body for something. I'm also not as cold. I'm wearing one layer of clothing for the first time in what seems like months. We've been sitting around the house with the heat on 70 most of the time, still shivering and putting on extra clothes and I'm sure it's because we're not moving as much as we used to.

I've missed the other perks of a long commute too, like getting to really notice the environment I'm moving through. I can check out the bikes of other commuters without worrying about running someone over. I can enjoy the little bit of sun that made it through our partly cloudy day. I got great views coming down Terwilleger and stopped to take some pictures.


And then there's the little gems that spring up in passing.

Little Dino Says... There's also the frustration of getting passed by other bikers, but that's just good motivation.

Speaking of motivation, I have another one--I kinda said I'd race at least a few PIR events with the team this summer and there's no way I'll survive if I can't handle my basic commute without barfing up a lung. Not that I'm going to win anything, but it'd be nice to not get dropped on the very first lap.

Now I just need to get back to the point where the traveling itself doesn't ruin me for any other activities.

Sadly out of shape but back on the road to recovery.

Saturday, February 09, 2008


Elden, AKA The Fat Cyclist, has a very informative recycled post up today about getting along on the road. If you're a driver or a biker, you should go read it right now.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Where the Day Takes You

Jess had another doctor appointment yestereday and came away with a shiny new purple cast. The only nice thing about the visit was Barry, the Physician's Assistant who sees her. Most of the people working the front desk are routinely rude and unhelpful.

Last week she left a form that needed to be filled out and faxed to her job for disability and when we walked in today, it hadn't been touched--despite several follow up calls during the week. Then they condescendingly announced that she should never give the form to the doctor, only to the front desk so it gets properly recorded etc. Like they couldn't have mentioned that any of the four times she called. Then they had the nerve to put a received stamp with today's date on it, though they've had the form for a week. We took our seats in the waiting room and resisted the urge to smite them.

She got called back fairly quickly and the casting room was filled to capacity--which is to say, there were two other women at the other bed--and older woman in a wheelchair who also had a broken wrist and another woman who was probably her daughter. The nurse came in to see them and the daughter explained that she had moved her mom in with her since she couldn't do anything for herself. Later Barry came in to see them and put on the cast. When the mom asked, "Well, do you think you can put up with me for six weeks?" the daughter touchingly replied, "It looks like I don't have a choice!"

We didn't even try to hold back our laughter. "Aw, honey, that's the same thing I said to you!" I joked.

The nurse came in for Jess and I watched nervously as she sawed off the cast. It was loud and messy and she nicked the arm once, despite her promise of "Don't worry, I won't get you with it." Jess didn't seem too disturbed but the whole process was creepy.

Jess asked if she could wash her arm while she waited to go to X-ray so the nurse got her some wipes with alcohol on them. Jess spent the next hour or so wiping her arm meticulously from every direction. I never understood how she could do floor nursing, with all the mess and bodily fluids involved, cause she's one of the cleanest people I know. I can't imagine how crazy-making it is to not be able to wash that arm for weeks on end. It looked so pale and puny outside the cast and she took great care not to bend it.

X-rays didn't take long and Barry came in with print outs. He said nothing seems to have moved and everything looks good. His plan is to put on a new cast for a couple more weeks and then go to a (REMOVABLE, YAY!) brace and start her on hand therapy. Barry is actually the only nice person in the office (which is good, since he's the one we see the most) and he was chatty today, even noticing Jess's new hair cut.

New castShe picked purple for the new cast and it looks great.

Next we went on our weekly trip to REI. For once I had no agenda but Jess was on a mission to get down slippers like the ones she got me for Christmas. My feet were freezing before then, but the slippers really are toasty and her circulation is much worse than mine so she really needed them. (See, this is how we end up with all the same stuff).

As soon as we walked in, she was off. "I'm going to check on my pants." These would be the cross country skiing pants she's had her eye on for a few weeks. We made a plan to meet upstairs and I left her to it and went to amuse myself in the snowboarding section. When I went upstairs, I didn't see her and couldn't spot her on the first floor, even with a bird's eye view. I walked back down and finally found her at the online kiosk, looking up the pants to see if she could get the REI Outlet discount. Her shoes were still untied from trying on the pants.

"You should tie my shoes, it's not safe."

I bent down to comply but said, "Aren't you just going upstairs to try on slippers?"

She looked confused. "What?"

I laughed. REI fever had gotten her! "Ha, you don't even remember your original mission!" I teased.

"I don't know what you're talking about," she sputtered and then went upstairs to the shoe section.

I decided to try on some snowboarding boots but it's the end of the season so there wasn't anything in my size. And besides, I probably should go back and make sure I'm not going to kill myself before I start buying my own equipment.

You know you spend too much time in a retail store when people start to recognize you. As we walked up to the counter, a black guy with dreads who's rung me up often said, "Hey, there you are, you two come here all the time!"

You don't get much more busted than that. As he rang Jess up, he let her know that the .83 sale starts on Friday (everything that ends in 83 cents is half price) so she could come back and get her discount. He noticed her cast of course, which sparked his show and tell of the chipped front tooth he's slowly having repaired. He was snowboarding and stopped to watch people go by and some kid ran into his face with a helmet. Ouch. Yes, I know, I still want to try again. Maybe I should wear a motorcycle helmet when I go.

We left REI with the cashier's "See you soon!" echoing in our ears and headed over to the Whole Foods neighborhood. We had a box and two bags of used music CDs to sell at Everyday Music. That's right, we're going digital baby.

Jess carried one bag while I labored with stops every few feet with the box and the other bag because I was too stubborn to make two trips. The guys at the counter seemed totally unfazed by our loot.

"Half an hour?" said one, and we made sure they knew who's was who's and then left. After many humiliating trips to Buffalo Exchange for the clothing version of this scenario, I was fully prepared to get most of the CDs back when we returned, with a polite but condescending, "We're going to pass on these—for now." as if there might be some hope that they'd take them next month.

Next, we walked over to AIP (Art Institute of Portland) so I could turn in some paperwork and pay my tuition deposit. The path is starting to feel real now. I have a meeting tomorrow with the financial aid adviser to see if I'm really going to be able to make this work and just how poor I'm going to be.

After that we stopped at Powells so I could look for a new moleskin calendar. They have an entire wall of nothing but moleskin books, but no calendar. I was wavering between a little reporter style flip up notebook and a little package of three 64 page book-style notebooks. Jess said I should get the pack of three. When I agreed with her, she got a mischievous grin and said, "Good, then I can have one."

That hadn't occurred to me and now I felt like a dork for being so easily had. "I'm just kidding, you don't have to give me one," she said. Well of course I didn't *have* to but since I'm whipped, I probably would. But I didn't say that.

We went back to EM to pick up our CDs. What we heard when we walked in left me with my jaw on the floor. "$70 for the box" and $34 for the bags."

"You're taking them all?" Jess asked, while I mentally gaped.

"Oh yeah," was the enthusiastic reply.

"Wow, this is so much better than Buffalo Exchange," I mused, while I pulled out my ID and signed my name and my new friend handed me thirty four shiny gold rocks. I was so happy, I barely complained that Jess was getting twice as much money for less music, although I did make a play to get the guy to hand me her cash, practically out of habit. He didn't take the bait. Since my collection included Another Bad Creation and at least one Celine Dion album, I felt it best not to delve too deeply into the payout formula.

On the way to the store, we had been discussing whether or not to go to Cacao, which was taunting us just across the street. I allowed as how I could probably resist just this once. But after things went so well with the CDs, I decided we had to celebrate with some chocolate.

"You know, if we go every time, then it's not going to seem like such a treat," Jess warned.

"You're right honey. You don't have to have any, I wouldn't want you to get bored with it." Somehow that answer didn't fly so we shared our usual large cup of the cinnamon drinking chocolate and a few salted caramels. Since Jess got twice as much for her music, I felt I should at least help her spend it. "My suger mama will pay," I said to the salesman, as I picked up our mug and carried it to a table.

It was probably good that we had a snack because our last stop was a big shopping trip at Whole Foods and it's no good to go in hungry. Since we were in the neighborhood anyway, we decided to use our WF coupon from the Chinook Book. We stuck to our list and our coupons and I picked out veggies while Jess chatted with a coworker from her old job that she ran into in the produce section. Seems like she's getting more popular every month.

It was weird shopping in a different store, not knowing where things were and not knowing the cashier personally, but we managed. And we had no trouble meeting the $50 spending requirement for our $10 off coupon. Since it was late, we also got lunch from the deli to take home. The curry chicken with currants and almonds was severely overpriced, but really good. Lately we're both in a phase where we're pretty much sick of all our regular foods, so the curry was a welcome change.

When we got home, I opened my pack of moleskins and handed one to Jess. She was very excited. "I get one? I get one!?"

"Of course you get one, honey."

"Ha, that's cause you're a sucker and you loooooooooooooooooove me!"

"Um yeah. You might want to leave off the 'sucker' part."

"What? I don't know what you're talking about," she said, eyes darting everywhere.

I smiled, in spite of the knowledge that I was, in fact, a sucker. "It's the shifty eyes that really make that so darn cute." I probably shouldn't tell her things like that but oh well.

We ended our evening by watching Shrek the Third (in one sitting even!) and eating too much popcorn and ice cream. After that, there was nothing to do, but sleep it off.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Wonder Twin Powers

I'm here to confess. Jess and I have a problem. It started innocently enough. When we first started going out, we noticed that we owned a lot of the same things; a Mountain Hardware bag here, a pair of Keen's there. Wow, we're so compatible and well matched, we thought.

She was shopping for a new bike and just happened to find a great commuter bike with all the features I'd been wanting.  So I got one too.  Well, it was a little more round about than that, but that's another story. 

She got cool new bike shoes.  Wow, those are perfect, I thought. A few months later, I had a pair.

Over time, it became clear that when it comes to clothes and sporting gear, we have exactly the same taste in just about everything.  Yeah, we're those lesbians.

The really sad part is that we barely try to hold back anymore (if we ever did).  I mean, when you find what you like, you gotta have it right?

Consider a recent trip to REI. We were both looking for some new pants, something non-cotton that would be good to ride in, but also look nice when we got to our destination.  I took a few things into the dressing room, but wasn't happy with them.  She kindly offered to go out and look for some other brands.

A few minutes later she came back with a new option, but the fit was terrible.  She went back out again.  When she came back, she had some tan pants that looked like casual dress slacks, but were stretchy and comfortable and would dry quickly. "I'm going to try them on too," she said.  (The warning bell should have gone off then).  

"These are cool, I like them," I said.  And they were on sale of course.  Jess rarely pays full price for anything at Really Expensive Items.  That's when she suddenly turned on me.

"I found them," she said, holding them protectively.  "They're mine."

"What!? I sent you out to look for pants for me!"

"Well, I could have said I didn't find anything and come back later without you," she said.

"Oh HO! I see how you are! You had no intention of letting me leave with these pants!"

A Cheshire cat grin was her only reply.

Buying two pair was out of the question.  We've sunk pretty low in the matching department, but we do have limits.  We tend to be a bit more strict about 'regular' clothes than sports-specific stuff.  If we both bought them, there's no way we'd both wear them at the same time anyway.  After much cajoling on my part and a promise not to wear them everyday and get bike grease on them, we agreed to a shared pants arrangement.

I had made many similar agreements with mom over the years but this time I didn't have to argue over who's closet the clothes would live in.

In our defense, we do try to get different colors when we can.  But in the case of bike gear (rain jacket, rain pants, shoes, bike shorts), there's usually not much choice.  So at this point you're wondering---how bad can it be? Off the top of my head, here's a list of all the matching gear we own.  


Scott Sportster P4 bikes (J)*
Keen Blackcomb winter boots (K)
REI down slippers (K)
REI bike capris shorts (KJ)
Smartwool base layer tank top (J)
Smartwool base layer tights (KJ)
Showers Pass rain jackets (K)
OnGuard mini U-Lock (K)
Outdoor Research Snowline Mittens (KJ)
Specialized Motodiva cycling shoes (J)
Specialized BG gel gloves (JK)
Mountain Hardware fanny pack (b.d)
Nike sports bras (2) (J)
Kleankanteen water bottles (KJ)
REI water bottles (b.d.)
LG 8600 Verizon Wireless phone (J)
Giro Havoc bike helmets (J)
Various Ani Difranco CDs (b.d.)
SHIFT short sleeve jersey (KJ)
SheBeast bike shorts (J)
Sorella Forte 2008 jersey & shorts (K)
Rossignol BC3 Back country ski boots (J)


Various Smartwool socks (b.d.)
Timbuk2 Messenger bags (K)
Mini backpacks (J)
Cotton Cloud bed frame (K)
Trek Road bikes (b.d.)
Keen Sandals (K)
Keen Low hikers (J)
Zeroshock laptop cases (KJ)
Cats (b.d.)
Ortlieb Panniers (K)
Pearl Izumi winter biking gloves (b.d.)

(* Indicates who had the item first. Both initials means we got them at the same time. B.D. is Before Dating).

When we rode our bikes around Crater lake last August, we pulled into a view point and a woman there said, "Oh look at you, you must be on some kind of team."

"Nope, we're just matching dorks who dress alike," I confessed. But now we really are on a team.  Jess joined Sorella Forte cycling club this year and we're picking up our new kits this month.

Hi. We're Jess and Kronda. And we're matching dorks. 

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Date Night

Mondays are a great night for dates.  I didn't plan to have a date last night, but I happened to check my Powell's events email and saw a couple of interesting options.  Plus, I got my homework done for the week which meant I was free of deadlines for the next seven days and I felt like celebrating.

We went to the Powells flagship store downtown and heard Bich Minh Nguyen read from her memoir, Stealing Buddha's Dinner. We found parking right away in front of Whole Foods and I stopped to get some snap peas to snack on.  Oddly, I've been finding pretty good ones lately even though it's January. 

We walked over to Powell's and found out that we were forty minutes early, so I suggested going over to Cacao for some chocolate.  Because apparently, I can't be within a square mile of the place anymore and not go have some chocolate.  At least it's cheaper than my REI addiction.  We called ahead to make sure they were still open.  They were.

"If we walk in there and they recognize us, we're in trouble," I said to Jess.   Sure enough, the look on the guy's face said it all. Ah it's those girls who called just now, he must have been thinking.

We shared a big cup of the cinnamon drinking chocolate and enjoyed a couple of samples.

When we got back to Powell's, we went into the Burnside entrance where the all but useless bike rack is stationed.  It's one of those 'artsy' bike racks that's not actually any good for it's intended purpose which bugs the crap out of me.  I picked up a comment card at the front info desk.

When we got back to the Pearl room where the reading was being held, there were a respectable amount of people gathered.  I went to the counter to borrow a pen for my comment card and the woman behind the counter gave me the 'I know you' look, so then we had to figure out how. "Sarah," she said and I figured out that she meant Skelly, who's no longer a friend of mine.  I seem to be running into a lot of her friends lately (the last on my cross country ski trip).  I don't bother mentioning that she's not my friend anymore and hasn't been for a long time as I think it would just serve to make things awkward. 

We got seats in front of a rude woman who took up the chair next to her to hold her tea cup and monopolized the Q & A session after the reading. 

The reading itself was very good and funny.  The book is about her family's arrival from Vietnam in 1975 to Grand Rapids, MI and her growing up caught between two cultures and desperately trying to fit into a conservative blond-blue eyed town.  It didn't work of course.  Her brother was in the audience and it seemed half the people there were friends of his.  Always nice to see family supporting each other.

The Q & A session was good too, lots of good questions asked, except the the rude women who had to ask Bich if her grandmother was still living--she wasn't and she died recently.  The odds on that being the case weren't too hard to figure out and I wanted to smack the rude woman for making her talk about it in front of an audience.  What a bitch.

I still had money on a Powells card someone gave to mom so I used the last of it to buy her book and get it signed, and then we asked Vin (her brother, who lives in Portland) where to get good Vietnamese food in town.  Seeing as the book talks a lot about food, I thought it would be good information to have and Vin was a fountain of knowledge on the subject.  If you're wondering, the general rule is to go east, beyond at least 40th street and the farther east you go, the better. 

I turned in my comment card and we set about figuring out what to feed ourselves.  We've been in a food rut lately and I didn't feel like cooking at home so we ended up a t P.F. Chang's a few blocks over.  I had never been.  It was practically deserted on a Monday night and we had the best server that I've had in a very long time.  She was completely unfazed by Jess's dietary restrictions and let me tell you, finding menu options for a lactose intolerant vegetarian who can't eat tofu is not the easiest trick.  Elizabeth knew the answer to almost every menu question we asked, had helpful things to add about the suitability of various dishes and never once showed any impatience with us, in fact, just the opposite.

We had a great dinner, and afterward, I wrote Elizabeth a nice comment one the back of a P.F.C. business card, since they didn't have comment cards.

When we got home, we continued our Dexter marathon.  We love it, but it's so stressful that we often end up watching two at a time because I can't stand the cliff hangers.  We discovered, late in our viewing, that it was actually easier to stop in the middle of an episode.  We just finished up season two tonight and it was even more twisted than season one.  I hope the writer's get a deal soon so we can find out what happens next.

Friday, I'm taking Jess out on a new and improved secret date that's kid tested, dead-mother approved and does not involve strapping anything to our feet.  But I can't tell you what it is because then...well...I've been watching Dexter, you figure it out. 

For the Record

Jess won at Rummikub tonight. It's her first time so I wanted to note it for the record. Also, she says I don't blog about her enough. :)

Saturday, February 02, 2008

Close ups

Last year I did a modeling shoot for Getty Images that I got through my cycling team. I got paid really well to ride my bike slowly back and forth out on Sauvie Island. If only my entire career could be more like that day.

Well, the pictures are finally up. I'm too cheap to buy them, but you can click here to go see the light box from the whole day's shoot.