Wednesday, April 24, 2013

30 days of biking update.

So, I don't know if you follow Minneapolis weather, but it has been complete bullshit this April. We have had two major snowstorms, the most recent of which was a mere two days ago, and it dumped 5 or 6 inches on us overnight. What's so offensive about it, beside the fact of major snow in April, is that you spend valuable time shoveling or scooping snow off your car in the morning, and then by evening it's practically gone, like it never happened, like your morning commute didn't suck.

Needless to say, snowstorms are a major mellow harsh when it comes to biking pledges. I was so demoralized by the first one that I publicly confessed to facebook that I had fallen off the bike pledge wagon. It happened last Thursday. A close friend/family member died on Monday night (about which more later), and I had a concert midday on Thursday that more or less commemorated her work (coincidental scheduling), and I just had to get through it. By the time the concert was done it was snowing heavily and I had a very real and deep feeling of Fuck It. So that was that.

Then I had some days of phoning it in. Short rides, bogus rides. Then I skipped Sunday due to busy day/late night/tipsyness. Then I skipped Monday, I think, because again: major snowstorm. But I'm back. I think we're done with snow. I think it's over. I rode to buy cat food yesterday and saw a great blue heron standing in the creek along the way, so close I could see its long chest feathers fluttering in the breeze. Today I rode to work again, after several days of not being able to. Damn this April, I say. This April has been so, so shitty, with record low temperatures and just general terribleness. I have had it.

Right now I'm waiting on the sunset and am going to go bounding across the street to take pictures in a few minutes. My hammer pants of a few posts ago arrived in the mail this week and they look TERRIBLE on me, so I'm back to the drawing board on that style concept, but I'm currently wearing them anyway. Two dear friends of mine are moving far, far away and I've had two melancholy/fun farewells with them. I thought I had another chance to say goodbye Friday, but guess what? I am going on a wee vacation on Friday! Going to Chicago to convene with some ladies and see what we see. I am excited! But the question, as ever, is WHAT AM I GOING TO WEAR? Not hammer pants, I guess. Apparently, it's going to be 70 F in Minneapolis this weekend, so naturally I am going to miss it. But at least I know it's coming, like the rest of spring.

Henry turned 11!!! yesterday! and I gave him a ukulele, which he figured out how to play in about 10 minutes, and then we were jamming on some song by fun. that I don't actually know. So gratifying to give a gift that's a huge hit. Plus the instrument is adorable--I got him a soprano Lanikai starter instrument (not a toy, in other words) and I squeed when I opened the shipping box. I might have to get one for myself. Later in the evening I was trying to figure out the chords to Old Man River and astonishing/cracking up my sister Em by knowing and singing all the words. It turned into a weird party pretty fast. But my best ukulele accomplishment is still "I Will Survive." It sounds as hilarious as you imagine.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Critter report.

I have seen a lot of wildlife while tootling around on my bike during this craptastic month (you have two weeks to turn it around, April. I have my eye on you). For one thing, there is a wee flock of turkeys hanging around by the river road, walking and hopping around prehistorically, displaying their full fanned out tails (the dude turkey, anyway), and serenely disrupting traffic. They actually walked right up to the window next to my staff meeting a week or two ago, fixing us with their dinosaur eyes.

So that's fun. I had my first heron sighting last Tuesday, but I was in the car at the time. Still, my heart skipped a beat. I love seeing them; I don't know why. Don't be surprised if I show up with a heron tattoo one of these days. Anyway, I'd been watching for their return and hoping to see them on the lake rather than just flying over the highway. I finally caught up with one on last night's late, dark, cold, wonderful ride. It was standing at the water's edge, hunched up and sleeping. I spied on it from the footbridge. Next to the heron, two beavers cruised around in the open water and one slapped a warning at me. They waddled up to the shore and chattered, or maybe scolded me.

The night before last, I saw two foxes romping in the snow next to the next lake over, which was as magical as it sounds. One thing I will say for the (stupid, relentless) snow and (depressing) overcast sky: it is very easy to glimpse the critters silhouetted against them. And then I feel uplifted, and unconcerned about the weather, at least for a half hour or so. Lone geese honk gently in the dark. The ducks quack in the creek, like cartoon ducks, or parodies of ducks. Little by little, the water overtakes the ice.

Friday, April 12, 2013

The report on 30 Days of Biking

As you may or may not know, the weather here in MN has been bullshit this week. I have also had some days where I had to drive to work because of scheduling and travel time issues, negating my ace in the hole for 30 Days of Biking, the work commute.

So three days in a row I found myself at the ass end of the day without having gotten on my bike, while coincidentally it was a) dark b) precipitating somehow, either snowing, raining, ice pelleting, or threatening to do one or more of these and c) cold, duh.

On two of those days I did an enormous amount of sucking it up and rode around the lake, which is a pretty quick 4 miles and normally a very nice recreational ride. Last night I fully intended to observe the letter of the 30 day pledge but not the spirit by taking a cruise around the block at 10 PM. But, and this will be familiar to those of you who love to ride bikes, pretty much as soon as my butt was in the saddle I was like WHEEE I FEEEL LIKE MEEEEE.

I will paint the picture: yesterday, what with the THUNDERSNOW and the above-freezing temps, we wound up with several inches of slush on the ground by the end of the day. I was wearing knee high socks, short pants, and loud spring green wellies. It was dark, but the kind of overcast dark that traps a lot of light between the clouds and the asphalt (and snow). Wet slop was falling out of the sky and off the trees. Wee ice pellet-y bits slanted directly at my eyeballs. But I took off up the creek trail and was pleased to see that there was a tire track from some other intrepid Minnesotan, and instead of phoning it in for a block I stayed  out for 10 or 15 minutes.

I wasn't dressed for it or in the mood for it or anything, but as soon as I'm pedaling I am like a little furnace chugging around the neighborhood. Late at night, it is quiet and the potential for solitude is high. And all three of these late, don't-wanna-go rides have been great. And I wouldn't have gone on any of them if not for the 30 day pledge, so huzzah for the pledge, I say.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

I bought these cuckoo pants on etsy.

From this shop.

And yes I'm going to walk around holding the non-functional corners out like that.

In other news, it fucking snowed 5-6 inches last night and there was fucking THUNDERSNOW and it's still fucking snowing.

Tuesday, April 09, 2013

My most important makeup tip so far.

Eyeshadow primer sounds like a completely bullshit thing designed to just make you buy more stuff and maybe that's partly true, but it turns out that using primer makes even cheap-ass eyeshadow wear better and stay blended and vivid all day. It is especially key if you are a greasy human, such that even your eyelids are oily (this is how I roll). You may have noticed that eyelid oil makes shadow collect in your crease and look bad. Primer solves this problem.

I've been using an inexpensive one by NYX, which is incidentally my favorite cheap makeup brand, available primarily at Ulta (and NYX is 40% off right now, so seriously, just get some). But if you don't have an Ulta around/don't want to buy makeup online and you want to be even less committal, e.l.f. makes one too and you can get it for like a dollar at Target. Does it work? Buy one and tell me.

Sunday, April 07, 2013

Sunday night dread.

I'm trying to stave off the above, as I often do, with food prep. If I have things chopped and cooked and ready to eat for Monday, going back to work doesn't seem nearly as grim, and I just manage my week better. I'm not doing anything fancy: steaming some cubed sweet potatoes and some broccoli, cooking up some black eyed peas, whipping together some lemon-tahini-miso sauce for veggies. I have some elderly kale that needs to be sauteed or something, and I'm making some chickpea pancakes for tomorrow's breakfast, though I might just end up eating them for dinner. Hell, I'm going to eat one now.

I took the 30 Days of Biking pledge, which is basically exactly what it sounds like: you sign a pledge to ride your bike every day in April. It's not about logging big miles, it's about getting your ass in the saddle and riding! I doubt I'm going to join in with any events or anything--I have always been happier flying solo--but the pledge does mean that on busy Tuesday when I had to be all over the place in my car, I took a cold late-night ride just to get a mile in before bed, and it also means that I put my head down and rode through some ridiculous weather on Friday. Friday morning was okay, but by the time it was kosher to leave work, diagonal snow/ice/rain pellets were stabbing us all in the face! I truly did LOLLLL at several points during the ride because it was so appalling; what else could you do? And I kept myself going with literally 20 minutes of terrible, halting, freestyle rapping, which is surprisingly a first for me. I usually make up songs. Sometimes they are just, like, the words "sucka fool" repeated over and over, but the melodies are always interesting.

Despite the fact that this fucking weather cannot make up its mind and it's actually super annoying to commute to work when the evening ride is 20-30 degrees warmer (and requires different layers) than the morning commute, this first week has been good for me. I got a rusty nail in my back tire like 3 weeks ago and then it snowed and got very cold again, and I was just too demoralized to ride for about a week and a half. I mean, I'm ready for sandals, giant floaty pants, and wee shirts with interesting sleeves, yo! I've put my wool away! Fie! So it was good to have to adjust my brain to the fact that I am just riding every day no matter what the weather is doing. Except I am going to be in Chicago for a couple days at the end of the month, and if I don't manage to find a bike to ride for the two full days I'm there, I'm not going to sweat it. Tiny vacations are much more important than foolish consistency (which is the hobgoblin of little minds, as I'm sure you know).

My scalp is recovering from my latest root touch-up, which might be my last for awhile. I'm ready to try something else. I love the white hair--it's the most me-feeling hairdo I've had, I think--but once my roots are grown out I'm going full Sinead. (If you don't get the reference you are either incredibly behind on pop culture OR too young to be reading this blog.) Stay tuned. It'll be June, probably. Just in time for me to go back to music camp for a month and be the freshest mofo in the place. I'm thinking the hairdo will go well with my recent eyeshadow obsession.

Speaking of music (sort of), I finally got Beck's Song Reader and it is beautiful, I mean as an object. They went full-on with the aesthetic of old sheet music and the advertising and just everything. I'm reading my way through the songs a bit at a time on the uke--a couple of the songs even have ukulele chords attached to them--and one of these days I'll take them to the piano too. I told my nephew Henry about it and suggested that maybe we could do one of them together, with Jude too, and he thought that was a cool idea. Once you tell a kid about something you really have to do it or you are a huge asshole. So there are some multigenerational jams in our future, which we may or may not record for posterity.

Winnie Blondeen continues to unfurl her personality in increments. I may have bragged too much about what a perfect bedfellow she was, sleeping so peacefully on a pillow by my head until the alarm actually went off. Now she seems to have remembered that she is a cat and that sleeping all night is totally bogus, so I've had to chuck her out of the room at 5:30 AM the past week or so. Also, after charming me with her silent meow initially, she has become very audibly chatty, which is also totally charming, albeit less so when it is 5:30 AM and I am trying to stay asleep. And also also, after completely ignoring the bathroom for four months, she has developed a love of destroying and munching on toilet paper. So, it's a relationship that continues to develop. I hope one day she will be more accepting of guests in our home, but if you come over you can expect a hiss and a whack and then she will stay nearby to monitor the situation. I have to admire a girl who sets her boundaries so explicitly.