Thursday, February 28, 2013

Seeing Clearly, Part 2

I did go to the optometrist at the clinic. Fortunately, her technician understood the issue and instead of wasting 45 minutes of the optometrist's time doing an exam that an opthamologist will repeat, the tech spent the time getting the right person on the phone so I could get a referral.  I hope they pay her well. She knew the right words to use and the correct people to call -- and she didn't give up frustrated!

So ... tomorrow I call the "referral" number and try to tell them the name and number of the doctor I WANT to see.  I'm sure they will have already picked someone else out.

While I was there I asked about my kids' vision.  They both wear contacts, but the optometrist at the military clinic doesn't do contacts.  Sigh.  So they tell me I'm allowed to go to the providers list.

I did and it gave me 10 doctors' names.  ALL of them are with the local "We Be Eyes" that we've had terrible service with before.


So -- two phone calls tomorrow.  One to the insurance provider for a list of 10 more names and one to the referral people.

On the Good News front, my nephews are coming for a visit tonight.  They'll be here through Sunday. They're 19 year old twins and we haven't seen them since 2006.  The kids are really excited.  My daughter finished up her classes early so I went to get her today for spring break and cousin-time.  Will post photos!

Wednesday, February 27, 2013


Today I drove to Arlington in order to ride with a new group of women.  I could have ridden my bike to ride with them, but that would have been about 14 miles, and the ride we were doing was about 16, and then it would have been 14 home, so I wimped out.  This time.

The ride was AWESOME.  We rode along the George Washington Parkway which runs along the Potomac River. The sky was blue, the monuments looked freshly washed after all the rain we had last night -- in short, a GORGEOUS day.  Photos?  Well, I didn't want to ask them to stop.  Next time.

We had lunch in Shirlington at a place called Busboys & Poets.  It's named for Langston Hughes.  It was pretty good food but the atmosphere was okay -- didn't seem overly clean.

But at any rate, I met some bike friends, and look forward to riding with them again next week! The group is called Babes On Bikes, thus the title of this post.

I promise, next time I'll take photos.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Ah, NOW I see

I hope that will be the result of my eye exam today.  I've been noticing an increasing frustration with my visual acuity, especially at night. I do know some change is normal with age, but I have also been feeling like my eye doctor just wasn't HEARING me.

For years I just wanted to "get it over with" because having to go to the eye doctor was the equivalent of admitting something was wrong with me. When I was a kid, somehow I developed the idea that having bad vision or bad teeth meant I was a bad person. Don't ask me where it came from - no clue. But I always wanted to "cheat' the eye chart.  Not anymore. Now I just want to be able to SEE!

I hate that the fully qualified medical doctor does the exam and writes a prescription but then to fill it, I'm at the mercy of a technician who really doesn't know anything about vision to evaluate whether the new glasses are 'correct'. And the only way to find out whether they are correct or best fit is to go BACK to the doctor to have her check them.

At any rate, I want to change my opthamologist, but to do so, I have to have an optometrist appointment to get a referral. Jumping through hoops -- and having to see 2 doctors instead of one. How is that saving money on health care? And the cost of glasses?  Yikes!

Actually, at this point, I wouldn't mind paying an arm and a leg for glasses if they would answer the vision issue. It's when they don't, that I am outraged at the cost and hassle.

Perhaps I need to spend some time praying for the doctor before I go to the appointment today.  For her sake and mine.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Growing Up

My bicycling is moving to a whole new level.

No, I'm not buying a new bike.
No, I'm not going a whole lot faster or further.
No, I'm not getting those really cool lights for night riding (because I don't want to ride at night!)

But, it's time to move past the "wear whatever as long as it has padding" category.  And why?

Because women's cycling clothes are getting really COOL...

These clothes are made by a mother/daughter team in Dublin, Ireland. We are lucky enough to be the ones who get to man their table at the Women's Bike Summit in Washington, DC on March 4. The Georgia in Dublin line is an answer to those who say "why can't my riding gear that protects me from the weather also be fashionable?"

My daughter will be holding the fort, and she's cute enough to model this stuff with panache!

This rain skirt is a wrap-around with velcro.

This jacket expands to go over your layers, including a backpack!

and my favorite -- Leggitts.  These are so cool!

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Writer's Block

I've started three posts today and this is the only that is sticking. I think I'm in the winter of my discontent. I want the weather to improve so I can ride every day without being cold or wet. I feel very in-between today - not terribly unhappy, but not very happy either.

This feeling always makes my family nervous. It's when I start looking at walls, and measuring, and muttering and googling. It often ends up with a re-decorated space in our house. Today I'm looking out the window doing it though and thinking about my yard. It's pathetic. We have too much shade to grow much of anything but ivy, but darn it, couldn't the ivy grow more neatly? And we put bat boxes up on some of the trees but the bats have never come to live in them so they're now just perches for squirrels. The play house in the back yard is too small for our children now.  Way too small. And there it sits. We never use the deck because I don't like bugs and one has to walk all the way through the house and down some stairs to get to it to use it. (We bought the house this way).

Our driveway is only wide enough for one car and when my husband comes home and parks behind me I can't go anywhere without asking him to move his car, but there's not enough land for us to widen the drive. And I want to go for a ride but it's cold, overcast, and there are gusty winds.

Sigh.  First world problems.  First world blahs.

I wonder if I can tear out the downstairs bathroom shower wall and put in some glass blocks. That will open up that entire space . . .

Behind that shower curtain is a shower cave. Seriously, no light.
So I'm thinking to take out that wall to the right, and replace it with glass blocks.
On the left is only about 8 inches to the door, so I'd leave that solid.
But I think I'd want to install a frameless glass door too.
And definitely add a light inside the shower.

Your thoughts?

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Ta-Dah! Errandonnee Accomplished!

Here is the challenge:

12 errands, 12 days, using 7 out of 11 categories, none more than twice, two at night. Must show photos or proof of errand, and night errands must show lights.

Category 1

Bike Shop   2/11

Category 2
Breakfast/Lunch (See note from Sarah on previous blog)


Category 3

2/11 Starbucks North Point

2/17 Starbucks Fox Mill

Category 4
Community Meeting (in this case PTSA) 2/09

Category 5 -- NOT USED

Category 6
Grocery Store
It doesn't look like it was at night because the shopping center
is way over-lit. But as soon as I left the parking lot, my lights
were barely adequate.

2/11 North Point Giant
2/17  Fox Mill Giant

Category 7
Any store NOT a grocery store

Office Depot 2/11

Category 8
Personal Care and Health

Bank   2/12

Category 9

Library   2/11

Category 10

Work (Tutoring counts)   2/15

Category 11
Wild Card

2/12  Post Office

2/15  SLHS Basketball Tournament Concessions

So, since that was exhausting to re-live and for you to peruse, here are my quick lessons learned overall.

1.  This was a lot of fun. Shows me how easy it is to do errands via the bike.
2.  When I'm challenged, it is suddenly NOT too cold or too wet to ride.
3.  There IS such a thing as too dark for me to ride and I know that now.
4.  I'm not going to invest in high dollar lights to remedy #3. My schedule is such that I can do all my errands in the day.
5.  No dinners via bicycle since I'm the only one in the family riding bikes. Maybe during the summer I can get my son to go with me.  Of course I can - if I'm buying dinner!
6.  After looking at other Errandonneurs' blogs, I am so glad I live in the South. Even though it was 26 as I was riding home, I wasn't jumping snow drifts or dodging ice patches.

More observations tomorrow.  Probably not a bit more insightful than these. ;-) Happy Presidents' Day!

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Bits and Bikes

Two things that happened last night while I was working the concession stand.

First, I was sharing some info with the other parents working (during a slow time) about the recent interviews I was involved with for high school students who want to study critical languages. There's a program that is all-expenses paid for them to study for a summer session or an entire school year. The critical languages are: Chinese, Korean, Turkish, Arabic, Russian, Tajik, and Hindi. I think it's a great opportunity for kids -- and little known, so I was spreading the word.

One man jumped down my throat saying, "That's just a front for the CIA to get ahold of them and recruit them to work overseas. Critical languages means the countries we're afraid of!"  The guy is built like a mountain, so I sort of stepped back and replied, "No, this is underwritten by the State Department and the goal is to promote future understanding between the countries."

"Nope," he snapped, "I know all about this stuff. One of my daughter's friends did one and the CIA attempted to recruit her. She was smart though, she went into international business instead." He turned away with a note of triumph in his voice.

I couldn't quit at that point. I said, "I think it's a great opportunity for kids -- all expenses paid to learn about another culture and learn another language. I wish I'd known more about it when my daughter was in high school." He snorted at my naivete.

When I got home I was kicking myself for not saying, "There's nothing wrong with working for the CIA.  In the area we live, LOTS of people work for the CIA! It's an honorable profession!"  When I Skyped with my daughter later and told her about it she said, "I'd love to work for them because I want to be part of keeping my country safe."

Thank goodness some of the kids out there aren't paranoid!  Sheesh!

Then a lady who was very upset I was going to ride in the rain and the dark kept telling me I needed to take "spin" class instead of riding outside.  I tried to explain that the reason I ride the bike is because I HATE exercising in a gym. It makes me feel like a hamster on a wheel and there's no amount of hamster food that motivates me to excel. But if I'm outside, breathing clean air, and seeing how even day by day my environment is changing due to the artistry of the Creator, it's a WIN!  She just insisted that I would LOVE Spin class.  Sigh.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Night Moves

A personal first!  I rode at night!  This was the first of my 2 night errandonnee ventures. When I left to go to the high school to work the concession stand for a basketball tournament, it wasn't dark yet. However, the minute I started riding, it started raining. When I arrived at the high school (3.5 miles), I looked back to the west -- blue sky. I looked ahead to the east -- blue sky.  SIGH.

I took my bike inside because a bunch of kids, rival teams, Friday night -- I didn't want to leave it outside, even locked. That caused a few raised eyebrows but I just smiled and waved.

At 7:30 my shift was over so I headed out, stopping to take a photo of my lights (a requirement) before I got on the bike. You can't really see my rear red flasher, and the light on my helmet is pointed down. I also have a light on my backpack, but that was on my back.

And it was starting to rain again.  The first part was on the road, and there was enough ambient light from the neighborhoods to see pretty well. Once I turned off the road and onto the path it was pitch dark, but I know those paths pretty well, so I made it home no problem. By the time I was turning into my neighborhood, the rain was turning to snow.

So tonight  -- rain, sleet, snow, but a safe ride.


Another Errand DOWN!

Another errand bites the dust today.

I had to go tutor (which for the errandonnee counts as work) and I debated fiercely this morning about whether I REALLY wanted to ride three towns over to do it. It was cold when I started out and it took me about 2 miles just to get a rhythm going. But I finally did and felt incredibly virtuous when I got there, tutored, then stayed and had coffee with a different friend.

It was a pretty cool ride, actually. I left my house in Reston (south of the tollroad), worked my way over to Herndon, caught up with the W&OD trail and road straight out just past the Rt. 28 car park. There I headed south towards Wegmans. When I got there I was desperate for a banana and all they had out were green. I begged the produce man and he told the guys who were chopping fresh fruit for the cups to sell me one. Best .21 I've spent in a long time!

All of a sudden I realized I'd been there for HOURS so I packed up to head home. I needed to get back before my husband/son left on a ski trip.  On the ride back, the day had become beautifully sunshine-y so there were a lot more cyclists out. I saw lots of wide "life is good" grins.

So here's the photo from getting ready to tutor. We meet at the Wegman's in Ashburn in case you're trying to figure the photo out!

Folders for tutoring on top of book. Essential coffee!

Tonight I'm headed to the high school to work concessions at the Basketball tournament. That will satisfy one of my night errands. Tomorrow evening I'll do another and then on Sunday I'll post them ALL!

This is so fun.

Thursday, February 14, 2013


I love riding my bike, using it for errands, or just riding for fun. I love it more when the weather is nice. (Truth). I know there's wet weather gear and cold weather gear and lights for the fog/darkness, etc., but really, I'm mostly a fair-weather rider. And I *think* I'm okay with that.

Because I ride for MY pleasure, and the fact that stuff gets done along the way is inconsequential to my purpose for riding, I find myself feeling guilty, as if somehow I'm not doing it "right". The little voice in my head says, "You should be (fill in the blank)."

When we trained for the events last fall, I was pretty maxed out at 40 miles, and happy to finish. For one thing, the time sink drives me crazy. If I want to do a 40 mile ride, I pretty much have to jettison any other plans for that morning. By the same token, if something pops up (particularly concerning one of my kids) my 3-4 hour time block is no longer available to bike and visit with cycling friends.

I've tried riding with friends, but haven't found that sweet spot of friendship and cycling that is a reward in itself. I tried starting a meet-up group but that didn't last. There's a semi-local womens' biking group, but I haven't quite synched up with their ride schedules. And they live about 20 miles away -- I'm not going to ride 20 miles to ride 20 miles to ride 20 miles home and it seems a little silly to drive my car in order go ride my bike.

Does anyone else have these kinds of problems?

And maybe I'd want to go longer if I had a new bike. But how do I decide? The last time I bought a bike for myself was 1989. I was in Germany with the US Air Force and I bought a sweet Bianchi touring style bike. It has served well forever -- even toted a Burley with two kids at one time --I'm not inclined to give it up just yet. Got any ideas to help me figure all this out?

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Two More Errands

One of the rules of the errandonnee is that if you don't get a photo of your errand, you need to verify it some other way. And they said be creative.

So for one of my errands on 2/9 to a PTSA Scholarship Committee meeting, here is the handout from the meeting.  It was held at someone's home so the photo would not really have shown that!

And for one of my errands on 2/12 that I forgot to photograph, my dear friend Sarah penned this "note from NOT my mom..."

I verify without notary that Kelley Westenhoff limped into  Panera at Fairfax Towne Center after falling off her bike enroute for our lunch meeting on Tues 2/12

I didn't exactly fall off ... more like fell over, but whatever. It was suitably dramatic and Sarah, being a nurse, was duly sympathetic enough. Catching up with her was so enjoyable that after the lunch, revived immeasurably, I biked home without problem.

So I hope those count!


Okay, it's been since September. But I have a very good excuse. I was LIVING MY LIFE.  Seriously, when the fall weather was at its best, I was on my bike almost every day so I didn't have time.

Then during the holidays we had an Italian student living with us. He was adorable, and we would have kept him except AFS had other plans for him. He is now in Ohio and living the American dream. We're still happy for him even though we miss him.

January 2013 ... well, bad weather and bad attitude. Nuff said.

So now I am officially OUT of my funk and back on the bike. I'm participating in something called an Errandonnee -- using one's bike to accomplish errands. All the details are at

In a nutshell, it's 12 errands, over 7 out of 11 categories, 12 days, and at least 2 have to be during darkness. And 30 miles. It sounds daunting but it really isn't. If you just think about the errands you run, and get on your bike instead, the distance gets eaten up quickly.

I know some of you live out in the country. Okay -- take your bike with you to town on the car. Park the car, and resolve to do all errands in town on the bike. Sure, there are some that won't work so well (picking up dry cleaning) but most others are easy.

For the Errandonnee we document our errands via photo and "something we've discovered or learned." I'm down to the last two -- the ones after dark. I was going to ride to our PTSA meeting tonight but it's supposed to be snowing so I think I'll wait until this weekend. I've already passed the 30 miles.

Here are my initial photos. Can you tell what the categories are?

Feb 11

Feb 11
Feb 11

Feb 11
Feb 11

Feb 12
Feb 12