Sunday, June 30, 2013

PDX: 88°F @ 21:32

At least the humidity's only 43%. It could be worse. It's time for the third shower of the day.

Sitting in one spot sweating. This is summer. I miss the 65° weather. Now it's treacherous to attempt to ride a bike- inviting heatstroke or dehydration. We loll around with waters in hand, frozen out of the freezer to keep us chilly and upright.

The dogs are quiet- laying in the living room, sleeping off the weather. We're dog-sitting for a friend this weekend and two dogs make for much more trouble than one, even when both are mild. One barks, the other barks. At least now they both sleep.

I read the paper online and watched a protest from North Carolina, a rally against the losses to women's rights, the unemployed and restrictive voting laws. They sang, "fighting for our children," in a hymnal-like sound as they were handcuffed and carried off by the police for staging a peaceful assembly.  I wonder what kind of country we are living in. I cried a little as I listened to them sing in hope and solidarity.

The record setting heat all over the west makes me wonder too. Last night I dreamed we were dying. It was kind of peaceful to just let go. Justin dreamed of a massive storm, related to global warming. If we had a kid, would they burn up on this earth? Will we all?

We drove to look at houses yesterday, four of us in my Mini Cooper: Carrie, Drazen, Justin and me. It was pretty fun. Only could've been improved if we'd have brought along the two dogs. Then we'd have had a gong show.

I've looked at least fifty houses. Every day a few more trickle onto the market. We don't know where to buy, and haven't a set neighborhood in mind. I guess we are open and looking for the right thing to pop up. We made one offer but lost out to a higher bid. I'm relaxed and trust that we'll find the right house. But it's exhausting. House hunting requires stamina.

Today we paddled in the Willamette River. Five of us. Two canoes, one kayak. One capsize. No losses. Lots of laughing and a fair amount of sitting in the shade. Great fun.

I want to use air conditioning. I wonder if it is wrecking the environment. I feel that I am helping by sitting here sweating and using less resources. I guess whatever you can do.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Awake in the quiet.

Awake in the quiet. Only the tick of the clock, the hum of the dishwasher and my stomach noises surf the sound waves of the house. Outside a misty grey sky, rain tempted to drop down. The birds chirp here and there, reminding me I'm not alone in the world. Oatie's curled up under my pillow upstairs with Justin beside him sleeping. I savor this time alone with my thoughts.

Days run together and now it's almost July. The fourth is coming up. I figure we should ride our bikes into town if we're going to try to watch fireworks. It's not the day to get stuck in the car. Out here, the best plan is to find a high point in the city and watch everyone blow off their fireworks. It's a display that goes on for miles and miles.

We've been looking at houses. The market is a buyers nightmare- multiple offers on every house. If you want to "win" a nice house, you need to offer $10-15k over asking. It's 2006 all over again, and I wonder if the housing market is skidding down the same road. With a farce appraisal in hand, we ask for bank loans for more than a house is worth. I wonder how this will pan out. Or maybe the market here is just going up and up without an upper limit. Portland has been booming mostly for about twenty years, so maybe this is nothing new. Just bad timing for us. We keep trying.

This morning, I'm reading The Sun. Its focus this month is incarceration and racial profiling. I'm thankful for those folks in Chapel Hill, NC who publish this magazine monthly and continue to speak on important topics, especially those which I would not normally seek out on my own. One of the writers commented, "But the one invaluable gift that prison grants you is time - time to think and reflect, or time to waste." This I can identify with in the solitude of the morning.

So Monday starts the new week. One just like the last. Happiness and contentment abounds. I count my life as a success and I'm thankful for all the free time I have.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

World Naked Bike Ride, Portland, Oregon 2013, riding with the Holy Bike Lights!

It's now some twelve days past the event and I've heard there were over 8,000 riders in their newborn splendor on wheels. 

It was my second naked ride- the last was about six or seven years ago when I'd last lived in Portland. It was a meager four hundred or so of us who quietly rolled the streets after shedding our layers near the corner of Burnside and Grand. That time, the only spectators were the people who poked their heads out of the bars downtown after seeing the peach flash cruise by. It was sweet and small and quiet as we rolled through dark neighborhoods, silently protesting oil and body shame, or just experiencing the jubilation of shared nakedness and the greatness of bicycles. 

This year was a totally different experience. The multitude of nudist cyclists populating the park blocks was a party of all sorts. I suspect there were more people there for the nakedness of the event than for the protest of oil. But I still believe that everyone should do this ride. For the sake of body acceptance and plain fun. 

We rode downtown from northeast Portland, my North Carolina boyfriend in a tutu (it was his first ride). Since North Carolina has in the last year made it a felony for women to show their areolae (up to 10 years in jail), we were thankful for the freedom to take part in this ride and thankful to be back out west. 

We unloaded our bikes at Southpark (a fancy restaurant downtown) and strolled up to the Art Museum, and were promptly enveloped by a cloud of flesh. At first in a crowd of so many naked people, there's the feeling of overwhelming stimulation. You're seeing too much, all the time! After a while, you notice nothing much and everyone is a canvas of the same color. Without clothes we are all much more alike. In joining with our fellow cyclists, we felt the community of hope- for a better world with less oil dependence, for more bicycles, for safe riding, and for loving our bodies. It is an event everyone should experience at least once in a lifetime.
Safety first in my pink-covered helmet and Holy Bike Lights!

Monday, June 10, 2013

Working things out day by day, we move forward into the unknown.

Led by the glowing wicker bedside lamp, I find my spot under the covers, clutching my William Stafford book for safety. Oatie's whining, trying to crawl in bed with us. He skitters to my side of the bed whimpering and squeaking. Picking him up is like trying to grasp a fish. He's all wiggly and legs going every direction. Somehow I land him on the bed and he digs under the covers to lick my leg before he casts off this world for the inner world of dogs.

We lay in the shadows. Quiet at night, I'm always happy to sleep next to Justin. It's the best time of the day - resting and letting the days' worries slip away. He's always good about bringing up the things I'm too scared to talk about. The old Czech-German-Norwegian lady in me is not always the best at direct communication. Stoic is not the best way to approach a relationship. 

He says, "Sometimes I feel like my life is a top spinning out of control." I said mine looks the same. But together we make sense. He wants to plan where the future goes. I think we are fine just going day to day and following the path as it's laid out in front of us, keeping our eyes and hearts open to the direction we're being led. Believing in the world and our abilities to deal with what is handed to us will lead us forward into the future. I trust in us.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Alternate realities

Screaming inside
We get nowhere.
Talking in circles
Pipe dreams of
What family is.
Dreaming that
They will suddenly turn into
The TV mom and dad and grandparents
Who take care of you
And your kids
And make cookies
And support you.

It's fine to have a rosy memory
Of childhood.
But to live in the past
Is dangerous.
To be stuck in your ways
Is death.

I wonder sometimes
If we are on the same path
But walking alone.
We plan things
Kind of together
But not really.

Sometimes I feel like running
Like I am trapped
And can't make a choice
No discussions.
They lead to a dead end.

In the moment
Everything is good.
In the moment
Nothing is wrong.

I don't know how it will go forward.
I don't know how we will figure it out.
I am hoping we can.

I wish someone could tell me how to do it.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Sunshine Morning Commute

Rolling down Going Street
Headed downtown
Past road construction & the green recycling truck
Weaving across commuter lanes
Holding the apron strings of the cyclist in front of me.
I take the sidewalk- a truck blocked my bike lane.
The girl behind me follows.
I feel happy inside leading us to safety.
Crossing the Broadway Bridge, I drop into the Pearl.
A few more blocks and I'm under the 405.
[Stop and check map]
I'm one block from my destination-
A meeting of cycling ladies in Portland.
I feel simultaneously nervous & right at home.
I have arrived.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Throwback- Mayan Chocolate Cupcakes

I made these for Carrie's birthday (April 12) and they were deeee-lish.

If you would like to have a happy party on your tongue, whip these up and feed your fancy!

[not my picture-- I forgot to take one!]

Mayan Chocolate Cupcakes with Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting

Makes 18-20
For the cupcakes:
1 stick of butter, softened slightly
1 cup brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup white sugar
1 egg
1 cup buttermilk
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp almond extract
3/4 cup cocoa powder (natural, non-Dutched)
1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
2 tsp cinnamon
For the frosting: (THIS is just to cover the top normally, double it if you want to pipe an insane amount on top of the cupcakes)
1 – 8oz bar of cream cheese (low fat is fine), at room temp
1 sticks of salted butter, softened slightly
1-2 cups powdered sugar
1-2 tsp cinnamon
1+ tsp vanilla

1.) Preheat oven to 325°. In a large bowl, cream together butter, brown sugar, and white sugar until well-combined. Add egg, almond extract and vanilla; mix until combined.
2.) In separate bowl, whisk together cocoa powder, flour, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon. Alternate adding dry ingredients and buttermilk to wet ingredients, mixing until just combined after each addition- beginning and ending with the dry ingredients (approx three additions of dry ingredients, and two additions of buttermilk).
3.) Line muffin tin with cupcake liners, and fill 2/3 of the way (I like to use a 4T scoop for cupcakes – it gives you a perfect, even amount every time). Bake for 18-20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of one of the cupcakes comes out with just a few moist crumbs on it.
4.) While cupcakes are cooling, mix up frosting using a hand mixer or stand mixer. You can add more powdered sugar or cinnamon if you don’t think it’s sweet or cinnamon-y enough.
5.) Once the cupcakes have completely and totally cooled (45 minutes to an hour), frost them! You can use a piping bag and tip to make fancy swirls of frosting, or just slap the frosting on them with a good old butter knife. They are delicious either way! 

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Run Happy. Run Forever.

‘Be content with what you have; rejoice in the way things are. When you realize there is nothing lacking, the whole world belongs to you.’ ~Lao Tzu

Last night was the Starlight Run. Established 1979. It's a 5km fun run (lots of costumes) before the annual Starlight Parade, which is a night parade of lighted floats and bands. For me, it was Girls on the Run, part two.

Truthfully, I have my doubts about the Girls on the Run program. (It's a program for girls ages 8-10 to run their first 5k.) I worry that it's emphasizing competition and organized sports to girls at too young of an age. I worry that it will create thoughts about body image and abilities. I had a hard time understanding what the point of running with a stranger was. Why not mom or dad?

Well, not all moms and dads can complete a 5k race. And this one is about female mentors, not male, so dads are out. Not all are available to do it with other kids around. Sometimes it's good to have other role models as well. I can't say that I still don't question the body image problems. I still can't say I think the program is a good idea overall but it was a good experience.

We met up at the field in downtown Portland at 7pm- a slew of costumed folk and pink shirts. 7,500 total runners with Girls on the Run as the largest sub-group. The race was off. I'm not even sure if it was timed. Which is a good thing.

Greta and I took off jogging at the start. She likes to sprint but I tried to keep her a little slower so we could jog longer. At the practice run we had to walk after mile one. Yesterday we had a good pace. We were hooting and hollering and slapping people's hands along the side of the road. Leaping through the air, skipping. Winning nothing but having a great time. Passing Powell's Books, she said, "I love Powell's! I love books." Towards the end we had to walk a bit. But as we neared the finish line, Greta took off like a bolt of lightning sprinting toward the finish line.

I hope Greta had a good time and felt like she was a strong girl. At the end of the night, I was really happy for myself that I'd done it. That I was reminded how much I love running. How it should be about having fun. Not winning. And that is what life is all about too.