Friday, April 11, 2014

Another Great Biking Day

Did a quick 10 miles out to Ashburn to meet with my dear friend Kayo.  The hardest part of this ride is getting to and from the W&OD. I start on the trail behind my house, then go on a local road, trying to avoid SUV's in the Kiss & Ride at the local elementary school. I cross a major arterial (with the light) and then get on a path that parallels that arterial.  Technically, it's a sidewalk and I shouldn't be riding on it -- especially since I'm riding against traffic.  BUT, there's no sidewalk on the other side, and no safe way to stay on the road as it's 45mph!

So, I ride that to the W&OD Trail and head west.  From there's it's easy-peasy until I get to Ashburn and turn off the trail.  Again I'm on local roads, but they're not very busy. And (I confess) I cut through a couple of car dealership parking lots on the way.

So, round trip 20.2 miles.  Today I saw dozens of cardinals and mockingbirds.  At one point I saw what looked like a little worship service with 3 or 4 squirrels and the same number of birds gathered around. Someone must have spilled some seeds!

When I got back to my neighborhood trail behind the house, just before I would have turned off, I saw a deer out of the corner of my eye, calmly munching on my neighbor's newly emerging spring foliage.  I just smiled.

Hope your day is awesome and your weekend is even more so!

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

What a Day, What a Ride

Hooray!  I got to ride with my buddy Betty again today.  We met at Falls Church, rode through Rosslyn, through Georgetown, along the river, and down to see the cherry blossoms.

Today was the 60th anniversary of Marian Anderson singing at the Lincoln Memorial so there was a big hoorah going on there.

I also saw the FDR memorial -- hadn't seen that before. It's very nice, but I'm done with memorials on the mall. You can hear people talking as if they're at Disneyworld, "We've done the Lincoln, Jefferson and FDR. We still have to get across the river for Arlington and then back to do, etc..."  There are so many that there's no opportunity to pause and reflect -- more checklist than memorial.

On our way back we went past National Airport and through Shirlington. Good thing because we happened upon a young nurse who had a flat. We helped her get it changed and rode with her a little while so we were sure she was okay to get home.  We had pretty bad headwinds when we were at our most tired, but we survived.  TWENTY-FIVE miles!

I'm tired.  Enjoy the photos!

Jefferson through the cherry blossoms

Betty grins at Lincoln

Nice shot of Washington except for those cranes!

Tulip tree on the way home

Lincoln -- Betty is helping some tourists by taking their photo

Blossoms along the tidal basin

Waterfall at the FDR memorial

I am so lucky to live and ride here!

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Always An X, Never A Y

Do you know that expression?  Always a bridesmaid, never a bride.  What else does it apply to?

Today on my errands, I realized another iteration of it is true.


Yesterday was miserably rainy all day so I stayed inside and did laundry.

Today I made up for it by doing all my errands by bike. It was only 15 miles round trip but felt like twice that because of the blasted headwind! At one point on the Fairfax County Parkway Trail, I felt like I was standing still.

Ah well, it was sunny, bright, warm and the breeze (gale force at times) kept me cool.  And I found a cute bargain.  I've been looking at these for months...and today they were marked down for clearance!

Since we're traveling to Texas for spring break next week, these will come in handy on the airplane!

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Day 5, 6 of 30 Days

Day 5 I didn't ride.  I know, I already broke my pledge.  I was going to take my bike up to Greenbelt, ride from the Metro to the Mini Maker Faire, and ride back to the station.  The time required to go via metro and bike would have been about 90 minutes each way.  I drove instead, and it was still 40 minutes each way. When I got there it was cold and windy, so I was glad I had.  The Mini Maker Faire was fun.  I made a felt coaster (shown here) and met a very nice lady who I want to have at our next Nova Mini Maker Faire.  I also did some origami folding with a young man, Justin, and showed him how to do the crane. Mostly I just enjoyed talking to people.

Today my son and I did an hour or so of yard work and then went for a bike ride. We rode to the nearby shopping center to have lunch at Subway. They have a new mediterranean sub with feta cheese, tzatziki sauce, and flatbread. Yummm...  Oh, and first thing this morning we made cheese danishes. They're his favorite. This recipe was good, but we will improve upon it in the next batch -- in about a month!

So, Day 6 back on track.  We have a 90% chance of rain tomorrow though so I'm not sure it will be a good bike day!  My new sign:

Friday, April 4, 2014

Day 4 Quick Ride

Just a quick jaunt over to my friend Amy's house today to deliver this:

Sales of Whoa Toffee! benefit this:

Which in turn benefits this:

So, a quick 2.7 miles each way, a delivery to a friend, a good cause.

A very nice Friday indeed.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Day 3 of 30 Days of Biking

I was pretty tired and sore after the last two days, but I resolved to bike to my church this morning anyway. I used my errand bike which is a lot heavier, but which allows me to carry the books I needed. It's only about 5 miles each way.

On Thursday mornings I volunteer teaching ESOL at the church. I have the most advanced group, which is good, because they ask hard questions!  When everyone is there I have 1 young lady from France (an au pair), 1 lady from Ukraine, 2 women from China, 1 woman from Korea and three people from India -- a young married couple and her uncle who also attends.  Today one of our teachers was out for a family emergency, so I
had one gentleman from Viet Nam and another lady from China.  However, one of my original ladies from China is there visiting family, my second lady from China was home sick, and my Korean lady didn't show.

So ... we were reviewing today which was good for the students from the other class.  Our format is that we do pretty intensive grammar, have a break with the other classes and have some food. Then as a group we review a few Bible verses, and 2 or 3 idioms that are linked in some way to those verses. Then we do a
song or chant together. When we return to our group my students go over a newspaper article that I've given them the week before. We hunt for difficult words or concepts and idioms. I try to vary the subject matter. We've done science, fashion, soccer -- but we don't do politics!

Our article we went over today had been brought by one of the students last week. It was about DNA and how forensic anthropologists are confirming that "race" is not a scientific classification. It said that there are more variations with a particular "race" than between races! It provoked a very good conversation. My lady from Ukraine is very outspoken and will ask questions that make Americans cringe. She asked the Indians about the caste system.  Fortunately, we didn't have enough time to go really deep on that one!

After class I thought about doing some shopping while I was out, but I'm really tired, and I didn't have my lock with me, so I just came home.  I think it's time to do some resting...

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Day 2 of 30 Days of Biking

My friend Amy and I needed to go to a meeting in Arlington today and the weather was supposed to be perfect.  I rode over to the middle school to meet her and we left from there.

It's about 16 miles from Reston to Phoenix Bikes, and it was doable but still challenging, especially after the 28 miles yesterday.  We saw a black squirrel on the way there and back. They're so startling because they're so dark!  We also saw lots of cardinals, newly molted. Their feathers are SO bright!

After our meeting we rode the 2 miles or so to Busboys & Poets.  It's a restaurant in Shirlington. The original restaurant is in Washington, DC.  It's named for the poet Langston Hughes.  You can read more about the restaurant and Hughes here.

Then it was time for the slog home and it was a slog. I was REALLY tired, but Amy was nice and patient.

Except for the fact I really need a shower, I'd sit here for the rest of the week.  Oh, and I need to ride every day.

I'm so glad it's spring.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Spring! Not an April Fool's trick!

I think...although today someone told me we're supposed to get snow again next week.  I didn't quite say "BITE YOUR TONGUE" but I was tempted.

Today was the first real GLORIOUS day of biking weather so far.  I rode yesterday to a meeting in the afternoon but the winds were really high.  Today was perfect.  I met some Babes on Bikes for a quick 18 or so miles.  We saw two hawks -- one each way.  The first one was carrying his(her?) breakfast in the talons.  Yummmmmm!

Well, it was supposed to be 18.  But I rode to the meeting place, and after our ride realized I'd left my sunglasses back at the coffee shop, so I rode back there (I told them to go on home as they both had driven to the meeting place), and then rode home.  So my mileage today was ... let's see ... 3.5 to meeting place, 16 miles riding with Babes, 2 miles back to find glasses, 5 miles home...about 28 miles.

Yes, my parts are telling me that two days in a row after inactivity is insulting.  And tomorrow my friend Amy and I are going to ride to Arlington for a meeting.  That'll be about 15 each way.

And why are we doing this?  Because April is bike every day month!  There's a challenge to bike every day in April and if enough people pledge, the organizers will donate bikes to kids.

It's at and it's going to be great.  Except for those two days I'll be flying to Texas and back.  Gotta think about how to work a ride in those days.

I love this group since their tag line is:

A community of joyful cyclists


Friday, February 21, 2014

Rocking and NOT Rolling in NYC

Went to NYC last weekend for the Youth Bike Summit 2014. It was awesome. These young people have such energy and drive to make the world around them a better place, not just for themselves and their neighborhoods, but for the future of the planet!

I went with the Phoenix Bikes crew. They're a non-profit earn-a-bike program that I've been working with to get ideas of how to start one in our neck of the woods. The kids are awesome and the quasi-adults who traveled with us were amazing. I say quasi because ... well, keep reading.

Friday evening the kids were making signs for the procession on Saturday. Lots of paint, lots of 'get to know you'.

In plaid shirt, one quasi-adult, Stephen. He's close enough to them in age that he's very silly with them but still (ahem) responsible.

In the red shirt, Edoardo.  Same status as Stephen.  So why quasi?

Well, on Sunday when my friend Amy was traveling upstairs via elevator to the conference site, she heard singing in the elevator shaft. Turns out that some people were stuck in a different elevator. They were bored so they were singing.  Turns out they had done the "everybody jump" at the same time thing and stopped the elevator.  Turns out they were from Phoenix.  Turns out both Stephen and Edoardo were part of it. HA HA

On Saturday morning we listened to a keynote speaker or two and then had to move the entire Summit to a different building for the breakout sessions. This being NY, we had to make a procession of it!  So, lead by Batala (a women's drumming group) and holding our signs from the night before, we went 3 blocks to the second site. This was probably my favorite moment. Here we were, tourists, in a procession, and tourists were filming us as "typical NY" behavior. SO much fun!

This is one of the most important things I gleaned from the breakouts. These are some rules the youth have come up with at one of the bike clubs for the ADULTS to observe.

And on Sunday, instead of going to the last session, I visited with my husband's cousin and had a great time. They didn't really know each growing up, so it's fun to meet her -- it's like family, only none of the emotional stuff, but closer than an interesting stranger!

Here we are -- a selfie at the East River.  It was BRUTAL cold!

Good times. And why NOT rolling?  We took our helmets so we could try the Citibikes but the bike lanes were covered with snow and slush so we passed.  No rolling...

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Checking In

Been very busy!

Last week I went to the Smithsonian American Art Museum. They have a conservation lab there where you can make an appointment for them to look at a painting or drawing you own and they make suggestions on what you might want to do to preserve it.  I took a painting that we inherited from my in-laws.  It had lived in a house with smokers for many years, so I wasn't sure whether the yellowing would be cleanable.  Good news!  It is!  Bad news -- they don't do it there.  Sigh.  They did give me a list of restorers/cleaners though.

Since we were down there anyway, we spent the day and saw some of the exhibits in the museum. I nodded at one of the guards and spoke briefly sort of acknowledging his presence instead of ignoring him. Well, that started him talking and he was really interesting. He came from Sierra Leone and has lived a life time in his 50 some years. He believes they need the British to come back and run Africa because, "it's been no good since they left." I'd imagine that isn't a popular idea back in Sierra Leone. Perhaps that's why he's working in America.

At any rate, America, America, God shed His grace on thee...I don't know why He would when we've kicked Him out of everything. But at any rate, we're still plugging along and this exhibit at the museum shows it!

Did you figure it out?

Monday, February 3, 2014

Rainy Days & Mondays

They don't always get me down, and today in fact, I'm just as happy with a rainy, soggy morning that I don't have to go out.

I rode my bike yesterday for the first time since Christmas. It was in the 50's.  I had nursery duty at church and the kids don't care if you're sweaty, so I rode over there.  Afterwards, I had a meeting on that side of the highway, so I stayed that direction and rode around some.

This morning I got ready to get out of bed and OW -- my right hip is NOT happy.  I used my old bike, and it's heavy, and it is not a step-through so I think I just insulted muscles not used recently.

So, I'm taking care of business by computer. And lots of business to take care of!  We have a Mini Maker Faire coming up in March and I'm on the planning board. I'm technically the volunteer coordinator, but we all sort of bleed all over the organizing duties to help. The Faire is going to be so much fun.  You can read more about it here:

If you have a maker faire anywhere near you -- within 100 miles -- GO.  They are so much fun!  They're an opportunity to let your inner child do that creative thing with other people. They are not competitive, but collaborative.

The Makers who have applied range from exhibits on robotics, arduino, fiber arts, jewelry making, drones, laser cutting, 3D printing, sustainable food folks, etc! And of course, we'll have some bike action with bike blenders making smoothies and bike bling, an exhibit at which faire goers will help us put rhinestones on an old bike to make it flashy -- it will eventually be donated to Phoenix Bikes for auction.

So, a parting photo from yesterday:

"I told you we should have headed south!"

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Better Results Than the Last Recipe!

I made a different layered salad for dinner last night.  Everyone liked it and had seconds. There is a tiny bit left over for lunch today but it will be snagged by one of the guys, I'm sure!  It turns out I took it for lunch to a meeting I was attending, didn't have time to eat it there, so brought it home and enjoyed it.  It was even better the second day!

Make this in a glass bowl to really "wow" your audience!

Tex-Mex Shrimp

Ingredients (from the bottom):
Quinoa (cook according to package instructions -- my husband had picked up a roasted-pepper flavor quinoa/brown rice mix. It worked just fine!)
Jarred Tomatillo Sauce
Frozen Corn (steam, season with salt)
Diced avocado (toss in fresh lime juice)
Canned black beans (rinsed)
Boiled Shrimp (we used precooked small ones and I just steamed them to get them thawed and warmed up)
Minced Red Onion (I used really thin strips -- should have minced)

The only suggestion the guys had, and I agree, is that the tomatillo sauce was quite mild for this many items and a spicier green salsa would be even better.


Friday, January 24, 2014

Eagle Eyes

I had my follow up appointment this morning after my second cataract surgery last week. Turns out my vision is 20/15 in the left eye (done in Oct), 20/20 in the right eye, and 20/15 for both.


Driving up there this morning I was captivated by all I could see! I felt a renewed confidence in my driving (if not in the driving of those around me). What a joy and relief.

Now if the weather will just ease up and give me some decent bike riding temps. I did cross our rails to trails trail today and saw that it was snow covered both ways.  Our local bike/hike paths are clear, but down in the stream valley so quite cold.

Is it spring yet?  Let me know...

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Thrifty and Fun

Using up some scraps today, I made these!

They're a little bit small for a full-sized adult, but would be perfect
for a kid!  The fleece is SOOO soft.

Brown with white bikes.

Going on Etsy in a few minutes!

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

An Interesting Lunch Recipe

I found some recipes that sounded interesting last week in the Parade magazine in the Sunday paper. I almost never read it anymore, so this was a happy coincidence.  They are salad recipes, designed to "stack" the different components.  I made the first one today and it was ... well ... okay.  I need to go back and work with it. It has potential, but I'm not sure what I need to change.  Perhaps you can help?  Here are the ingredients:

Miso Veggie-Soba

Soba noodles
Butternut Squash, roasted
Brussels Sprouts, roasted
Olive oil
Salt & Pepper
Miso Dressing:
1 knob ginger
1 clove garlic
1/2 cup white miso
1/2 cup plus 2 Tbs seasoned rice vinegar
1/2 cup tahini
3 Tbsp packed brown sugar
1/3 cup water
sliced scallions (to be fancy, slice them in long very thin strips)

Cook the soba noodles according to package and rinse with cold water.
Cut the butternut squash into 1/2 inch piece. Toss with 1-2 Tbs of olive oil and salt and pepper.  Spread on a lined cookie sheet and roast at 425 degrees for about 40 minutes. While those are roasting, half the Brussels Sprouts and toss them with the same amount of olive oil and alt and pepper.  Arrange them cut side down on a lined cookie sheet. Roast them for 20 minutes, until browned.
Puree the ginger, garlic, miso, vinegar, tahini, brown sugar, and water.

To assemble for tomorrow's lunch:
In your container, place a layer of noodles, then the squash and brussels sprouts. Drizzle some of the dressing over the top, and then finish with finely cut scallions.

Here are the photos.  Any suggestions are welcome!

Soba noodles.  Yummy base.

Ingredients for dressing (except water)

Noodles with the veggies on top.  After this, I added the dressing since I wouldn't be stacking it for lunch tomorrow.  I hoped that mixing it all together would bring the guys along to enjoy it.  Of course, it is all veggie, no meat, so I didn't really expect them to be enraptured. But I didn't expect to be disappointed myself.  Gotta keep working on it.  Maybe heating it up a little?

Farewell Paradise

Every escape from reality has to end, and so it was with our Hawaii trip.  We spent one last day in and around Kilauea and then caught the flight back to Oahu and then to the US.  But before we left, we again saw some amazing wonders of the world.

At night, the caldera glows with the heat of the very essence of earth's beginnings.  This is a lousy photo, but the best we could get given the distance and dark and our equipment.

There is also a lava tube (in a very stable area) that one can walk to and through. It's like a cave and the ancient Hawaiians used it as such. This was my least favorite volcano "must-see" because it is so easily accessible, it was very crowded with boorish people.  Ah well ...

Heading in -- just like a cave!

Looking to the exit, but trying to give a sense of the inside.

We also saw steam vents and sulfur beds. They look quite similar. These are the sulfur beds. Eerie.

One of my very favorite things about Hawaii was that we were so far from Washington, DC that the "Nanny State" was quite remote. What I mean is that when I'm in Washington, and I visit a museum or natural feature, there's a carefully constructed path I am to follow and the descriptions and words on the exhibit are designed to make me FEEL a certain way. Very manipulative, and if the least bit dangerous, there's a barrier that says I cannot proceed.

Contrast with Hawaii. Out on the lava fields, there is an area of petroglyphs. Carved by native Hawaiians between 400-700 years ago (they've dated the lava flow), this whole area was sacred to them. They carved shallow depressions into the volcanic rock, and placed their child's umbilical cord (they called it "piki") in the depression. This was designed to tie the child to the land of Hawaii.  Beautiful, yes?

Well, there's a hike to get there. It's only 3/4 mile each way, but it's over rough terrain and a mostly unimproved trail. The warnings go like this: "Minimal cell phone service, take water, wear a hat, walk carefully, you're on your own -- we're not coming to get you."  Then you are left to see that from cairn to cairn, the path is arduous, but doable. I'm afraid that in DC, the exhibit would have been closed due to a) fear for the exhibit and b) fear of lawsuits. At any rate, we did the hike, and were rewarded with amazing carvings.  In addition to the piki, the Hawaiians celebrated with drawings/carvings of their world.

And my totally unexpected view in Hawaii is this carving.

Do you think the ancients were secret cyclists?

Thank you for staying with this to the end. There were many more sights we enjoyed, but rather than becoming that annoying uncle or cousin with the 5000 vacation photos, this should give you a taste of why people love Hawaii.  Even Mark Twain wrote eloquently about his visit there!