ATS Bellydance Flash Mob at the Proctor Farmers’ Market

It was a cool, drizzly day and the market was bustling with activity. Shoppers were enjoying a morning of live music provided by Annie Henry, a beekeeping talk by Gary Violette of Heaenly Honey Farms whilst shopping for fresh, local organic produce, meats and cheeses.

Suddenly, the sound of middle eastern fusion music filled the market, and a woman appeared out of the crowd and began to dance.

Soon, more and more women (and one man) emerged from the crowd moving rhythmically to the music; as the tempo changed the dancers began moving faster and playing zills (finger cymbals) as they formed lines as if two groups were dueling.

As soon as it was over, the dancers faded back into the crowd, almost as if they hadn’t been there at all…

This non-political event was part of a worldwide effort.

All over the world, at the exact same time (well, except Australia, New Zealand and anyplace else across the international date line who did it the day before) this type of dance, ATS (American Tribal Style) bellydance, to the same song “Bay City Shimmy” (fat chance bellydance version) was flash mobbed.

Some groups wore fabulous costumes, and others like our local Seattle/Tacoma group chose to wear their troupe shirts with some fancy accents that could easily be concealed under coats and jackets lending the element of surprise for the mob.

One Song-One Dance-One World United


You can see video from all over the world on the event’s Facebook page.





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Wine Hog – The Event, The Winners and Pig Licking?

Saturday night was WineHog.

Wine Hog is an annual event stolen borrowed from Colorado National Monment where folks bring a wine or a cheese for a non-snooty, non-blind tasting, no rules, no holds barred friendly competition.

WineHog is celebrated the Saturday nearest Groundhog Day.

One of the important elements of wine hog, is the tablecloth. I’ve been using my current tablecloth since 2005. Each year, guests sign and date the tablecloth. Some draw pictures, some write poetry or dirty limericks. If someone spills, they are supposed to sign and date their spill and label the wine. It is really fun to pull out the tablecloth each year and read the entires from previous years.

Another important element are the “Faaaaaaaaaaabulous Wine Hog Trophies”, which normally come from Big Lot’s. They are always pig themed and usually interactive. The often dance, sing songs or say silly things when poked. One year, I had bitey pig heads on a long stick. When people pulled the trigger, the pig would open it’s mouth. Yeah, those were fun to give a bunch of adults who’d been drinking wine for a couple of hours.

So without further ado… Here are this year’s winners. (which were big surprisese)

[drum roll please]

Cheese Winners

3rd place – Tony and Rick’s Gruyer
2nd place – Linda L’s Castello Blue
1st place – Caroline’s Mango Ginger Stilton

Normally, this crowd prefers very aged and/or stinky pungent cheeses, blues and extra aged gouda are common past winners so this dessert cheese really broke from tradition.

Wine Winners

3rd place- Thom & Francine’s Coppola Claret
2nd place – Tony and Rick’s Bombing Range Red
1st Place – Don’s home made Meade (honey wine)

The interesting thing about these results is that the highest scoring wines are generally big bold Cabernets, Syrahs or exceptional Pinots. White and dessert wines are rarely considered so this slightly sweet mead was an unusual and impressive winner.

Honorable Mention for Best Non-Alcoholic beverage

Linda L’s Sparkling Blueberry Juice

As you can see, the tablecloth has gotten interesting over the years

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We had an AMAZING selection of cheese… (this was the best cheese year ever)

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We had a very interesting selection of wine this year as well

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Thom took his judging VERY seriously. He brought a notebook and tasted each wine and each cheese in order and took notes.

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I totally scored when I found the trophies this year. Fred Meyer had “Evil Doctor Porkchop” (Toy Story 3) toys. If you squeed the tail, the pigs mouth opened up and it acted as a flash light. The toy also said, “That’s MISTER Evil Doctor Porkchop to you!”

Here’s Caroline receiving her “Faaaaaaaaaaabulous Wine Hog Trophy” for best cheese.

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And Don’s reaction to his for best wine (home made even)

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There was some quiet time in the office/guest room/music room

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There was even some music and dancing…

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I can neither confirm nor deny that there was “pig licking”

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The rest of the photos are available as a slide show here

if the slideshow does not embed propery in your browser or reader, you can view it by clicking here

A good time was had by all. (and the bar has been set very high for next year)



Mood: Tired


Swim Sistah Swim!!!


Saturday, I was up at the buttcrack of dawn to get up to Genesee Park to watch the sun rise over Lake Washington.

And a lovely sunrise it was.

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Saturday was the 2nd annual TrekWomen triathlon which empowers women, encourages health & fitness and raises money to fight cancer.

In addition to being a Swim Angel for the Danskin Triathlon, I also volunteer as a Swim Sister for the Trek triathlon.

Our job is to support and encourage the women on the swim course who might be nervous.

One’s first triathlon swim can be very scary and intimidating.

Seriously though, it is scary the first time, especially for those new to swimming, new to events or new to viewing themselves as an athlete. We also have women who are cancer survivors and/or in active treatment.

A woman who is experiencing anxiety or is just unsure of her ability can request a swim sister to go around the course with them. We also go out behind each wave to make sure no one who didn’t think they needed one of us might change their minds once they’re out there a while.

I finally got to spend some time with my good friend Julie (we’ve had a difficult time connecting this year)

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We all squeezed into our wetsuits did the morning briefing thing and waited for the first waves to start.

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There was some fun music playing at the start line and I started doing a crazy dance with my noodles. Much like this awesome sister…

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Ardis grabbed me and a few other silly sisters and we headed up to the start line where there was a Zumba demonstration going on.

So there we were, a half dozen women in full wetsuits (some of us with halos, tiaras and silly hats on) waving swim noodles around doing a Zumba dance performance.

It was hilarious and I hope, made the women waiting to start a little less nervous.

For what it’s worth, I do not recommend wearing a full wetsuit for this type of activity. I couldn’t wait to get into the lake and let some nice cool water into my suit.

After a turn working the start line, Julie and I got to go out and swim behind the last wave.

I LOVE the last wave!

Just after I passed the first bouy, Sally Edwards swam up behind me as asked how I was doing. Yes, she is as nice, down to earth and caring as she comes across in public appearances.

My reply was, “Well now I’ve been passed by Sister Madonna and Sally Edwards on a triathlon course, so pretty good.”

We chatted for a bit and ended up spending the last third of the swim course with an awesome 12 year old girl, Mikayla who was doing the triathlon with her great aunt.

The water was cold as we haven’t had any sunny weather to warm it up and the poor thing’s teeth were chattering.

But she kept going and going and going…

I made sure her aunt knew to make sure she dressed warmly on the bike course (and that her mom needs to get her a wetsuit for next time) and out of earshot, to tell her what signs of hypothermia to look for just in case.

This little girl was AWESOME and she finished that swim, cold, exhausted and smiling; seriously, she was all determination, no complaints, no whining, what an inspiration!

Sally went back out for the last swimmer.

Sally is always the last swimmer, rider and runner in a triathlon.

No woman will ever be in last place in one of her races.

We created a tunnel on the exit ramp with our noodles and did some “voguing” through it while waiting for the last swimmer (the race photographers were loving us for this and our pre race zumba performance.)

As the last swimmer came in, we chanted the “official” call of TrekWomen“YOU GO GIRL FRIEND… YOU GO GIRL FRIEND…”

She came in, just ahead of Sally, tired and smiling, and off she went to finish the event that would change her life and make her a triathlete.

All the women were awesome.

But there is always one who becomes your hero.

This time around, it was Mikayla.

I checked the results page and she finished. She was,the youngest person in the race and was bordering on hypothermia in the swim. She even finished 11 minutes ahead of her aunt.

Once again, I am inspired by those who put on and participate in these events and I am left with a warm feeling in my heart after having been involved.


Mood: Happy



Yesterday was (by modern calendar standards, pish) the festival of Lughnasadh.

It is the first of three harvest festivals which celebrates the early harvests, berries, wheat and barley (which means BEER… Yay beer). It is also celebrated as Lammas or “loaf mass” after the wheat harvest.

Lughnasadh is not only a harvest feast in honor of Lugh of the Tuatha De Danan’s foster mother, Tailltiu, but also games (as part of the funeral celebration) It is also believed in some circles that the games (also believed to be the precursor to modern Olympic games) represent the battle between Lugh and Balor.

No matter which version one observes, it celebrates the harvest and involves food (often baked bread) and physical activity.

It occurs between the Summer Solstice and the Autumn Equinox

Although I don’t hold to a modern calendar for such things (come on people, our ancestors didn’t have them it was about the sun, moon, stars, plants and animals…) I ended up observing Lughnasadh yesterday despite it being the “assigned” modern calendar day.

I started out by waking up and baking, not bread (didn’t get my starter reactivated in time for actual bread) but scones.

Yummy tasty sconey goodness with blueberries. Quite fitting for Lughnasadh if you ask me.

I already updated on much of the harvest progress here

After that, was the “games” portion of the day, my best friend and I went for a five mile waddle (I couldn’t really call what I did after three months off training a “run”) out at Chambers Creek. I forgot how steep those nasty swtichbacks are. I only managed to run 2/3 of the way up before I had to stop and walk.


After a quick break for some liquid refreshment, another friend of ours came over for a shorter walk (he’s recovering from foot surgery) and we wandered over to the Chambers Creek Labyrinth.

After the run, the walk and the socializing, I needed to do something.

I needed to burn the lies (those who aren’t familiar with said terrible and life altering lies can read about them by clicking here)

After it was just Molly and myself, without ritual or pontification, I burned the letters and legal documents in her fire pit. The ashes were not scattered, they were not used for anything. They were stirred down to nothing, which is what I intend for them to be from now on.

Just before the burning, I plucked a tiny oak, still partially in it’s acorn out of some dry bark alongside the road. It would not have survived there. I carefully put it in a pot to bring home.

It is a Garry Oak, the only oak that is native to Western Washington or British Columbia. They don’t like to be transplanted because they send down very long tap roots; but since this one has a tiny tap root, was still partially in the acorn, and the weather is cool and moist, I am hoping for the best (just to be safe, I gave it a nice drink of vitamin b-12)

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My neighbors Jim and Tony gifted me with a small Rowan (Mountain Ash) tree which I planted in the back.

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The addition of these trees along with my Hawthorne that was already here gives me “Oak, Ash & Thorn”. As an added bonus, I already had Holly and Bay Laurel (Myrtlewood) on the property. I have the sacred Celtic Tree thing covered 😉

The day ended with an interesting sunset created by the smoke from the fires in British Columbia (the smoke also gave me a killer sinus headache and caused me to miss roller skating that night)

this photo was taken by Jitvanzoo and appears on the KOMO news website

This morning was the “big day” for the back porch.

I went to Home Depot, measurements in hand to purchase screen doors.

Nothing in this old house is “standard” and I can’t buy a stock screen door. Getting one custom made is shockingly expensive.

I opted to just screen off the back porch with a retractable screen.

Now I can keep the back door open in the afternoon to bring in cool air from the cool side of the house and can sit out on the screened porch any time I like.

There is plenty of summer and indian summer left. I plan on enjoying this for a long time before winter hits.

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BadKitty is somewhat curious but not overly excited about the new expanse of her domain.

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Wishing everyone blessings of the season.


Mood: Mellow


Tacoma! Show us your Monkey!!!

Last night at Tacoma’s 100th Monkey party was a blast and a half.

Of course, it always is. Despite what some “Johnny-come lately” detractors might say, the Tacoma art community is vibrant and filled with amazing people.

However, this particular event, was even better than usual. I attribute this to two main factors; first, it was at Speakeasy and 2nd, the 100th monkey tiles were SOCK MONKEYS. This was a total act of genius!

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Seriously, what an ice breaker (s)…

“Show me your monkey!”

“Wow, you can tie it in a knot”

“Monkey? What Monkey?”

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“Is that a monkey in your pants?”

“You want to know my connection to the art community? Check out my butt” (explanation below)

“Why yes Sonia, I will chase your husband across the floor to take a picture of the monkey on his back for your amusement”

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“Why yes, I do like to play with my monkey”

“My monkey looks just like me? Really?” (most of us)

“Yes, I stuffed the whole monkey in my mouth eventually” (Steve Dunkelberger)

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“Of course, you can spank my monkey Paul (can I take a picture?)”

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Although, I already have my own icebreaker. At “the monkey” you put your name on the front, and your connection to the art community on your back. Well with my long hair, I can’t put a sticker on my back, so it goes on my backSIDE… “I take pretty pictures”. It’s a great conversation starter, gets my butt patted when I show up to have it applied and doesn’t get covered up by my hair.

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I got to hang out with some of my super awesome friends that I met through Speakeasy/100th Monkey

Margie (a recent monkey who’s tile graces my end table and NOT as a coaster) and Cindi

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Shakespeare in the Parking Lot” treated us to a performance and The Painkillers provided some great musical enertainment.

The Claw contingency showed up, and the famous infamous RRAnderson (aka 9 inch nachos) won the honor of being our next monkey.

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It was a great success and a fabulous night.

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Renee Timmer came up with a GREAT idea…

a dinner party with our monkeys.

I’m there!

Oh, and I love my monkey. His name is “Mo” and he carries a “man purse” (why yes, I did wear my vibram 5 fingers aka “monkey feet” to the party)

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More pictures are available here…

More April 2010 Tacoma 100th Monkey photos here

Come on Tacoma. Show me your monkey!



Who Spanked the Monkey?

I don’t have time to post until after work (and likely after the Tacoma Beer Runners get together) but decided to post some pictures from last night’s 100th Monkey event at Speakeasy.

The “tiles” this time were sock monkeys (how cool is that?)

There was much networking, socializing, celebrating the art community in Tacoma, and of course… monkeying around.

Pictures are here…. check them out and see who spanked the monkey last night.

I’ll try to get a post about the event as well as Drama Free Thursday up later.


Runnin’ of the Green (part two)

After a crazy day celebrating the green on Saturday, I joined 15,224 of my best friends to run the St Patrick’s Day Dash in Seattle.

This is not “just” a run; it’s an event; it’s a giant street party; it’s the thing to do in Seattle.

KOMO News footage (did you see me? I’m the one wearing the green 😉

There’s a Seattle PI photo gallery here

It was a BEAUTIFL morning in Seattle. No rain, no snow (like last year) still cold, but sunny.

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I headed over to Gene’s house bright and early to carpool up with he and Michael. (earlier than usual since we just turned our clocks forward for daylight savings time)

We were joking that Michael looked like an “Irish Pimp” in that hat. I just looked crazy in my blinky pin, glasses, mylar streamered deely boppers, bling and snoopy shamrock shorts (more on the shorts later)

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We got up there in plenty of time to get parking, check gear and meet up with friends. I very briefly saw Tori in traffic (I recognized her logo on their car)

We found Kathy, Jon and Maggie in short order.

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Oh, those shorts? The best part is the back. Normally, I make fun of girls who draw attention to their (often really large) butts with lettering on the back.

I could NOT resist the shorts that said “Feelin’ Lucky” BWAAHAAAHAAA

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Of course, since it’s all about the butt shot, Kathy decided to be a flasher.

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We split up after that, Gene and Michael got closer to the front of the green (first and fastest timed) wave and I got to the back of that wave, wanting to take it easy after running the Tacoma St Patty’s Day run the day before. Kathy got towards the front of the (next) red wave. Jon and Maggie cheered us on.

The starting line was the usual chaos, but we got off and running on time.

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Sadly, the route no longer goes through the Battery Street tunnel and up on our ill fated viaduct. It runs up hwy 99/Aurora Ave. (it was nice to not need shuttle buses and to end at the Seattle Center which is a much better place for a party than the parking lot at the stadium.)


There were all sorts of crazy costumes (which is one of the main points of the race)

Here was a pot of gold

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and then there were the “underwear boys”

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a big favorite was the “green men” (yes, they ran the entire 4 miles like this)

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Once again, I didn’t look at time (I only wore the Garmin to track the new course) and just tried not to inure myself. It wasn’t very smart to not run for a month and a half and then do two back to back events.

After I finished, I wandered back to the fountain to meet Gene, Kathy, Michael, Jon and Maggie.

We were treated to a concert and mini parade.

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I also made some new friends 😉

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After a bit of celebrating, we headed up to the Blue Star Cafe in Wallingford for breakfast. Bill came up to meet us. Kathy was flashing guys in the bar.

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We walked around the corner to Archie McPhees to check out the rather extensive devil ducky collection.

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We dug through the “tub of duckies”, someone would pull one out, I’d say “I already have that one”, Gene would say, “I KNOW” and we’d all laugh. I did add a pink devil ducky, zebra devil ducky, yin/yang devil ducky and a dead ducky to my collection.

After that, I hopped in Bill’s car and we headed up to Magnolia for the bike expo.

I saw lots of friends from Cascade, including Claire who I don’t get to see very often.

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and spent some time at the Tacoma Wheelmen booth visiting with Calra, Peggy and Christie

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After that, we headed down to the University district for beer at the RAM

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When I got home, I discovered just how bad running on that “hot spot” on my arch was.

I had a nasty NASTY blood blister on my right arch.

This is what it looks like this morning; it’s actually already looking better. I plan on leaving it intact as long as possible so that it remains sterile and heals.

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I headed over to South Sound Running to show them my blisters and get some ideas one where to go from there.

As it turns out, the arch support in the Asics 2150s is more aggressive than the support in the Brooks Adrenaline GTS that I’ve been running in for the last nine years. The fact that wearing thicker socks and using bodyglide for the 2nd event didn’t help indicates that this structural difference is significant enough that it’s probably not the shoe for me. (and they black ones were so pretty)

I’m back in the Adrenalines. I’d rather have to buy shoes more often than have them tear up my feet.


THIS is why I always recommend that those starting a running or walking program go to a REAL running store (Footlocker, Big-5,etc… are NOT real running stores) owned and staffed by runners to have their gait analyzed and the proper shoes presented for try ons and test runs.

Today is a rest day (for the most part, I have things to do)


Mood: Tired


not so Chilly but still Hilly

Chilly Hilly was a BLAST this year.

Michale F and I arrived early because he needed to register; because of this, we got “Doris Day” parking on the Waterfront a bit South of the ferry dock.

There were a lot of people registered already and since the weather was sunny and spectacular (very unFebruary like) we knew that thousands of people who were waiting to see what the weather was going to do would be registering at the last minute. The final rider count was 6,028. Yikes!

The person on the loudspeaker kept saying, “plenty of time to catch the ferry”. I looked across the street and saw the loading area nearly full and barely got in the queue. This was when I realized that no matter how much I fantasize about a lovely island home on Vashon or another one of our beautiful islands, I’d want to shoot myself if I had to use a ferry to commute every day (maybe after I retire and just want to write and do photography)


I had a brief visit with fellow ride ref Michael Snyder at the registration area before I headed over.

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I discovered that I was only one row over from Allyson and Marizel, so I managed to squeeze over their direction and hang out with them while waiting to load.

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I was one of the last people to make it in the queue and as the boat pulled away from the dock, we saw that the queue was full again. A quick phone check of my facebook status replies showed that Michael didn’t quite make it and there is a cutoff on the number of cyclists, not due to space limitations (it was weird not to see the deck covered in bikes) but to the number of life jackets available on the ship (that’s the law)

I ran into lots of friends on the boat (hey, with well over 6,000 people on the ride, it’s impossible not to find people you know) and spent a lot of time answering text and voice mail messages of friends I was trying to connect up with.

There were more than a few jokes about being glad that our tsunami was the day before (our tsunami was inches rather than feet)

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I met Leo and my friend Bill on the Island side and waited until after the screaming hordes attacked the first hill to start our ride and ride ref duties. We figured that it would be helpful to sweep for those having mechanical problems or other issues (it was mentioned to me by a club member that they never see ride refs in the back of the pack) and that the slower riders might be more in need of support and learning about safe and courteous riding. The added bonus was that it was much less stressful than riding up the first hill in the middle of all the wobbles, stops and crashes (which there were plenty of refs already doing).

We honked our ride ref horns a LOT, made lots of bad jokes, sang silly songs, and made a huge deal out of thanking people engaging in safe and courteous riding behavior.

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We got a lot of thank yous for being out there and only a few dirty looks from people we asked nicely to “please remember to call “on your left” when passing”. (thinking to myself here… Uh, excuse me? You are the one breaking the rules of the ride you signed up for and agreed to abide by are breaking laws, endangering others and when I ask you nicely to remember to follow the rules/laws I’m the jerk? Whatever…)

I’d say my biggest frustration was riders for whom “CAR BACK” seemed to mean “ride three abreast, pass people and take up the entire lane so that cars need to cross the double yellow line (bonus for doing so on blind corners) to get around slower riders.” (there are always a few buttheads in every crowd)

I was riding up one of the big steep hills at the end (the first of the series just before the church with the water stop and blessings) and thanked a gentleman for saying “on your left” as he passed me (we believe in loudly thanking people for doing the right thing in order to encourage such behavior from all parties in the future). The woman I had passed a hundred yards or so back who was walking her bike up the hill (and yes, I said on your left when I passed her) starting yelling at me… “WHAT DID YOU MEAN BY THAT?” I don’t know how she could have thought I was talking to her, I was nowhere near her. (and how is “thank you” offensive?) At this point I was sucking wind and couldn’t have yelled back if I wanted to. Luckily, Leo was behind me and explained to her that I was thanking the gentleman who had just passed me courteously.

The positive interactions far outweighed the negative. Overall, I’d say that the riders this year were more courteous than last year which is surprising given the huge volume of riders.

Leo and I pulled into the finish line, chatted with friends, turned in our ride ref bibs and met Bill in the beer garden.

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I ran into Crystal, Michael F joined us and then we headed over to Docs Marina Grill (with a few detours around the ferry dock and other areas looking for the place because we just hadn’t ridden enough hills already) to meet Marizel, Allyson and others for beer, chowder and a bit of the USA/Canada hockey game. We were in there when team USA tied up the game in overtime. The place went NUTS!

Michael and I headed out to catch the 2:55 ferry. OMG, the lines (of cars and bikes) were the longest I’ve ever seen them. We weren’t convinced that we were going to make it on that boat, but we managed to get on just before the cutoff. It wouldn’t have been a crisis as the weather was lovely, but we were tired and didn’t feel like hanging out on line to wait for the next boat.

It was a lovely ride back.

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I ran into my friend Lynne in line so we got to hang out a bit.

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of course, we had to do the obligatory “Look at us on the boat with Seattle in the background picture”

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On a physical note, I felt MUCH better than last year (pretty easy to do)

I was in better shape, as I’ve been exercising more consistently. Last year I hadn’t eaten or slept for 3-days and had been very sick from the stress of my mother’s impending death, layoffs at work and some other things (not the least of which was the selfish jerk I was dating at the time who made everything more stressful).

I ended being SAGed off the course just after the rest stop because I was bonking (as it turned out, after I uploaded my Garmin data, I discovered that my heart rate had peaked at 215 and stayed there for over an hour)

That nasty hill just before the rest stop got me again this year; which was mostly due to lack of legs, my cardio-vascular system is in great shape. Perhaps I just psyched myself out.

When I saw Baker Hill, I almost died (I had been SAGed off the course before this point last year so it was the first time I’d seen it) and said to the guy next to me, “I see a walk in my immediate future” but I cruised up that sucker as well as those bad nasties at the end with no problem at all. (not saying I was fast, just saying I made it without stopping or walking)

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The weather was great, seeing so many friends was great; and the fact that we got beer at the beer garden before they ran out was great.

The rest of the pictures are available here:

Today, I’m resting in the morning, cleaning my filthy apartment, going grocery shopping, and running errands. Tonight, I’m doing masters swim and TWBC ride leader training.

Tomorrow I go back to work to rest.


Mood: Tired


STP 2009-an epic ride

What a weekend it was…

I don’t even know where to start (and this post will be long and rambling)

When I first moved here 11 years ago, I couldn’t imagine riding on the road (hadn’t had a road bike since college and had been a mountain biker my entire adult life) more or less riding 204 miles from Seattle to Portland with 10,000 of my new closest friends.

But now, I can’t imagine not doing it.

Last year I was nervous and terrified-I didn’t know if I could do it.

What a difference a year makes; I fussed over logistics but knew I could do it even with less bike time this year (with all the triathlon training I’m not in as good a bike shape but am in better overall shape), had nothing to prove and would be riding with friends. (last year only 2 of the 11 people I trained with actually rode it and they wanted the latest start possible [on the hottest day of the year no less-I passed] so I rode solo)

Of course, no major undertaking is without things going wrong.

For the life of me, I could not find my bike pump that I took off my bike last time she was in the shop. I finally pulled one off of my other bikes.

My bike computer died so I replaced the battery (the battery wasn’t the only problem as it turns out-it told me I was riding 4mph slower than I was making me think I was bonking when I wasn’t)

and when I got to the start line, I discovered that when I tripped on my stairs leaving my apartment at 4:00 AM (almost took out my ankle and missed the ride all together), the heart rate monitor strap on my Garmin fell out of my bag and was likely lost forever.

I called Leo (my ride partner and other half of our comedy duo) at 4:30 and he was about 3 minutes behind me on I-5; we arrived at the UW in Seattle at about the same time. (not bad for one of us leaving from Bremerton and the other leaving from Tacoma)

I picked up my medical support jersey from our happy volunteers and got to meet Kimbery, MJ, Andy Williams (we’ve been reading each other’s blogs for some time) and Shawn Darraugh (photos to be uploaded to Facebook)

After picking up my jersey, hitting the port-a-potties and loading my luggage on the truck I was putting the final bit of air in my tire and getting ready to go when I heard,

“Hey!!! It’s DARWIN (my slug who has his own blog)

Mary was not only excited to meet Darwin in person

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but she had banana slugs all over her helmet (and she gave me one; I also saw another slug on the ride that she gave someone else)

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After that, Leo and I headed to the start line at 6:00 AM sharp (right in our projected time frame)

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Last year, I was a very new (and nervous) road cyclist having only had a road bike for three and a half months before the STP.

This year, I was much more relaxed and less nervous about the other cyclists (many of whom aren’t adept at riding in groups safely or courteously) I also slept better the night before and ate more and often.

We enjoyed the cruise along Lake Washington Boulevard with the water and Tahoma (Mt Rainier’s real name) as a spectacular backdrop.

We had a blast singing, joking, insulting each other for the amusement of the other riders and playing duets on our horns (Leo loaned me a horn that honked to offset his “squeaker”.

There was an accident near Renton, but there were already medics and a support vehicle on scene and the EMS system had been activated so we kept going to be available for other incidents.

Claire and David when whipping past us on their tandem (they’ve been animals this year) Leo took off after them (at about 25 miles per hour) I took off after Leo, realized it was stupid to push that hard so early in the ride and backed off.

We did see them at the REI rest stop.

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Where there were lots of REI employees volunteering and working hard at the BEST rest stop on the ride.

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I even got to meet “Super Girl”

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We saw lots of interesting people along the route and had a “lovely” (read hot on new black asphalt) run up the Puyallup hill and then headed on to Spanaway for the lunch stop.

We discovered early on that Leo was the “invisible” ride ref. He would politely ask people to say “on your left” and they’d completely ignore the poor guy. (he got teased about this for two days)

The lines were very long, but we got food quickly and then unlike last year, sat in the shade and cooled off.

It wasn’t easy, but I talked Leo out of waiting in the scorching sun for the port-a-potty lines and made other arrangements down the route (legal indoor plumbing thank you very much)

There was a bike accident outside of Spanaway, but there were more medics than patients and a support vehicle on scene, so we kept going to be available for other incidents. We also started seeing lots of flat tires.

I started getting sick from the heat around Tenino (it wasn’t quite as hot as last year, but was more humid) I thought I was bonking earlier when my bike computer said I was only going 9mph (slight uphill) when I was actually going 14 before I realized that it was borked)

Once I get that hot, I can’t eat because I get nauseous. Luckily, I was well hydrated, but I did bonk between Tenino and Centrialia. We pulled over and I downed a package of Cliff Shot Blocks and as much water as I could get down without vomiting (and it was close, let me tell you)

I made it into Centralia where I had a room booked at Rocky and Patsy’s house (the house with the mister set up practically on campus). No riding across town to a motel and walking back.

It was like staying with friends. The two other guys that were staying there were guys I had met on the Chehalis Western Trail (what are the odds out of 10,000 people) when I was being regaled with linguistic trivia by another rider.

I pulled up on my bike, put it in the back yard and was offered a beer (a good one too)

I had a nice shower, sat in the front yard and then a wonderful sit down dinner of lasagna, salad from the garden and garlic bread.

After that, we all walked over to the camp at the college (less than half a block) to socialize.

I finally got to meet Michael Snyder from the Cascade Bicycle Club.

Here we are with Leo in our obligatory Hawaiian shirts (how we recognize each other in the beer gardens at these events)

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The beer garden had run out of beer (16 kegs), so we wandered over to the West Sound Cycling Club tent for a beer before calling it a night.

Yes, I was a naughty girl, I stayed out past 9:00 PM drinking beer with the cycling club from across the bridge (for which Rocky briefly locked me out of the house as joke)

I was awoken just before 5:00 AM (when the alarm was set to go off) to the sound of a torrential downpour (these were not showers-this was a deluge) which didn’t bode well for the rest of the ride. Heat exhaustion the first day-hypothermia the next. Good times!

Leo and I met back at the camp and headed out just after 6:00 AM.

I had breakfast at the house (just coffee and cereal, I’m not a big eater in the morning) but Leo didn’t. I hopped a paceline between Centralia and Chehalis, turned around and didn’t see Leo anywhere. It was his turn for a bonk.

I pulled out of the line and waited for him..

There was thunder and significant lighting strikes (big ones hitting the ground) which added more than a bit of excitement to the ride. We (along with a few hundred of our closest new bestet friends hauled butt into Chehalis where the smart ones took cover while the cells passed.

This was where we had an awesome breakfast at the park. (much like a hobbit, I enjoyed “2nd breakfast”)

Here are Leo’s Squid and my Slug enjoying it. (yes, the Ensure is Leo’s)

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When we got a break in the storm, we headed out for what is my favorite part of the ride; the rolling countryside between Chehalis and Longview.

There was a huge number of flat tires on day two; it seemed like we were coming up on one every 100 yards or so. Michael even stopped for a guy who had broken his seat post.

This year, I had to stop in Winlock to take a cheesy photo with the egg…

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We continued on through the wonderful rolling hills when our bliss was broken for a time by a hailstorm that pummeled us not long after we left Winlock.

I got to sing with a fun paceline while on the rollers. We belted out a fabulous rendition of “Take Me Home Country Roads”

I was excited to find that they were not out of turkey warps at the Lexington stop this year and we had a nice break and lunch.

At this stage in the ride (just shy of 150 miles) there was a lot of Chamois Butt’r being used… Here is the scene from inside of one of the port-a-potties

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We were leaving that stop at about noon when the announcement came…

They were only going to do the escorts across the Lewis and Clark Bridge (between Longview WA and Rainier OR) until 1:00 PM.

It was only 8 miles away, but we decided to haul butt to make sure we got across with the escort.

The bridge to most people is the scariest part of the ride and it’s worse without the escort trying to ride it with logging trucks whizzing by.

Here we are lined up to get over the bridge. (small groups are escorted by the Gold Wing club)

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And here we are crossing the bridge (right before the screaming downhill run with the scary expansion joints)

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The mad dash to get across the bridge lead to a bit more crowding on Highway 30 than usual but it was workable. (check out the rain on my helmet)

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Just before the St Helen’s Rest Stop I could tell that my lactic acid threshold (which I’ve learned a lot about over the last couple years) was being pushed and that whatever they had at the rest stop (they usually run out of turkey wraps that late in the day) was not going to cut it. Michael was very good about staying with me and offering to take pulls when I started slowing down just before St Helens.

So I pulled over at McDonalds (disgusting but a good, cheap quick source of meat, fat and carbs all of which I needed) and got a cheeseburger and fries,which I stuffed in my jersey pockets before heading into the rest stop.

Leo looked at me with revulsion at my disgusting choice of endurance fuel to get the final 25 miles (out of 204) into Portland.

Michael looked at me a bit less harshly…

Soon, they both headed there as well (yes, I laughed my butt off)

Since I was the slow one out of the group, I headed out a bit earlier than they did.

Michael caught up with me well past Scapposse after sprinting a good distance and Leo took a bit longer to catch up.

After that, we took turns taking pulls into Portland (pretty much hauling butt-a 17 mph average that late in a double century ride is hauling butt for me)

That last stretch of Hwy 30 entering Porltand makes me nervous. It’s narrow, the traffic is speeding by, and everyone is tired, stressed and ready for the ride to be done. It was especially bad this year because it wasn’t just raining, it was pouring and we were soaked to the skin and there was a lot of standing water. Some of the storm drains on the side of the bike lane were only identifiable by the bubbles coming out of the standing water.

People turn into “instant buttheads” passing too close without saying “on your left” (I was tempted to snark, but could not do so while wearing a ride support jersey)

Just before the nasty hill coming into Portland we stopped to help a couple of ladies with a flat tire.

I don’t know what was up with me, but I actually passed people on the first half of that nasty hill, I came to my senses and slowed down on the 2nd half. (I’m not a great hill climber)

During the final miles through Portland to the start I was whining, “No ooone toool meeee iiiit might raaaaiiiin in Poooortland.” and “I’m sooooo cooool aand weeeeet I caaaan’t feeeeel my buuuuut anymooooore” (not a bad thing actually)

We hit every red light in Portland between the Steel Bridge and the finish line.

My friend Peter (one of my VERY best friends in Jr High School who I recently reconnected with on Facebook) was there at the finish line for me and for a very short visit. We hadn’t seen each other since the 70’s.

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We got in very late (as a support rider Leo, Michael and I had to stop a lot to help people) and barely had enough time to get our bikes on the truck, grab our luggage and get on the bus back to Seattle.

No food, no beer.

I did change into dry clothes (which disgusted Leo that I did it without showering) but he actually got on the bus in his wet disgusting riding clothes.

Someone was kind enough to give us some granola bars as a “thank you” for volunteering and Leo found some cheese crackers in his pocket.

Traffic stunk (which it usually does on Sunday between Portland and Seattle especially on STP and Oregon Country Fair weekend)

We pulled into the UW parking lot some time after 10:00 PM and I was a bit worried when Flash wasn’t racked.

I d id not want to drive up to Seattle the next day to get my bike (again, last year the truck my bike was on got a flat tire)

Then I saw the next truck pull up and Flash was one of the first bikes off.

I was happily reunited with my beloved bike and headed home.

Yes, I’ll be doing it again next year.

Oh, the rest of the pictures are here

and here’s the route map

Route map of the Seattle to Portland Bike Classic on July 15 and 16th


Mood: relaxing


Why I did it

Today I took part in something that was bigger than myself.

Even though I was sore and tired from the triathlon yesterday, I couldn’t say no when asked to volunteer as a medical rider for the LiveStrong Challenge in Seattle today.

I don’t know anyone whose life hasn’t been touched in some way by cancer.

I hadn’t stopped to think about how many people I care about are survivors or actively fighting this disease.

As I wrote names down on my “in memory of” and “in honor of” cards, I started to cry.

I started to cry because there were so many, I kept remembering people and going back and filling out a new card.

It was getting close to start time, so I had to just grab the names of friends who were in the forefront for me now (I actually forgot my best friend whose cancer was a long time ago and a co-worker who just got the “all clear”) and get going.

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Here are the few (of sadly too many) who were on the card today. Next year, I’ll think this out in advance because I feel bad that I missed so many. (I feel bad that there are so many)

My friend Diane Rooney died at the age of 34 after a particularly aggressive form of breast cancer (the types that hit younger women are fast and deadly) Diane and I jumped out of helicopters together and fought forest fires.

She was a warrior. After her diagnosis, she sold everything she owned and moved to Arizona (one of two states that recognizes naturopathic doctors) to study. She became an activist and battled companies genetically modifying food, spraying toxic chemicals and injecting milk cows with bovine growth hormone.

Before her cancer was diagnosed as coming back, I went to visit her in Phoenix. We took a road trip to Sedona and the Grand Canyon. I had a fiend from the academy who worked there, so we went and stayed with him and enjoyed “special” spots that most tourists will never see.

After she died, her father called me to let me know that her ashes were being scattered as soon as the area we both loved, Dome Rock thawed and the roads opened.

He mentioned that one of the last things she talked about before she died was that trip to the Grand Canyon. It was one of her fondest memories and a very special trip for her.

All I did was take a friend to a cool place where I had “people”. It was a simple act of friendship to me. To her, it was the last memory she held on to and took with her when she passed.

We never know when our actions might (or how) profoundly affect someone.

I met my friend Karen when I was a Ranger at Canyonlands National Park at the Island in the Sky. She was staying with a mutual friend of ours at Dead Horse Point State Park. Bonnie (the friend she was staying with) was gone for a couple of days.

It was around Thanksgiving and since Karen and I already “knew” each other through Bonnie’s loving stories, of course invited her over for Thanksgiving.

It was the first meal she had eaten since being released from the hospital where she had received some truly horrible chemotherapy.

I also gave her injections to help her body recover from the treatments (she was too shaky to do it herself)

Years later, when I was in the doctor’s office having a cervial biopsy, she sat with me and held my hand while they ripped bits of my cervix off.

Lizzy has fought a difficult and painful (emotionally and physically) battle with Ovarian and Colorectal cancer.

She is a marathoner. She has turned this marathon into an opportunity to fight this disease, even going to Washington DC to lobby.

My friend Annette has had her cancer come back at a truly horrible time in her life. (of course, there’s never a good time) and yet she keeps on keepin’ on by working and taking care of her two children giving them a loving home and good memories while going though treatments that sap her energy and make her sick.

I called her today to let her know that I was thinking of her; so I pulled off to the side of the road and gave her a call, “Hey, did you know that I’m in your neck of the woods riding with your name on my back?”

I cried after I made that call.

My beautiful “little sister” Megs has had so much taken from her by this disease.

After being to hell and back, she has finally found happiness and I’ll be damned if I’m going to sit back and watch that be taken from her.

I can’t find a cure, I can’t donate a bunch of money.

But I could volunteer to support those who can.

~ ~ ~

With that said, here’s the ride report.

I got up to Seattle bright and early and scored free (Sunday) street parking a block away from the Seattle Center.

I checked in, picked up my medical pack and got my cards (as mentioned before, incompletely) filled out.

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With much fanfare and emotion, we lined up in our starting waves.

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I had no business riding at all today after yesterday’s triathlon and my legs (and general sense of well being and energy levels) made that very clear.

I chose the 45 mile route in hopes that I at least wouldn’t bonk.

It was weird riding through the streets of downtown Seattle at 7:00 AM with no traffic. I’ve ran the streets when they are crowded with marathon runners for the Seattle Marathon; this was different, quieter, more purposeful.

As a sea of bikes, many riders wearing yellow LiveStrong jerseys moved down the streets people cheered.

Some asked, “What are you riding for?” Needing to give a short answer, I merely said… “Cancer”.

“Cool!” they said and they too began cheering on riders.

We got to ride on the I-90 express lanes (once again, I’ve only been on them for the marathon) which was pretty cool.

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We headed out across the bridge for a loop around hilly Mercer Island.

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People on Mercer Island sat or stood in their driveways or yards to cheer us on.

We looped over to Bellevue, down the lake to Renton and back up the other side of the lake back towards Seattle.

There were plenty of well stocked rest stops staffed by friendly volunteers.

The last one had a band and there was much dancing and toe tapping.

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We needed that rest break because things got ugly from there.

The elevation gain on the course is listed as just a bit over 1,500 feet.

That’s true if you move from sea level to 300 feet above sea level (etc… etc… only once) but in a place like Seattle where there is no flat ground and you are up and down hills many many times, it’s much greater than that.

My Garmin shows that I climbed 6,043 feet in 45 miles today (I also rode down 6,061 feet)

Throughout the entire ride, my legs burned, complained and cramped up. They alternating between feeling like lead and rubber.

The ride was hard, damn hard.

And then I’d see a survivor ride by, or someone obviously going through treatment out there doing the same thing.

Now that’s hard.

So I kept pedaling and shut the heck up about it.

I can’t count the number of times I’ve cursed the hills on the route up to First Hill from the lake while on the marathon course.

Let me tell you, I will never complain again.

Not after doing it on a bike.

Relentless hill after relentless hill turned even strong riders, already hilled out into walkers.

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The scariest part of the ride was once we got up the hills.

We had to ride down 3rd in downtown Seattle.

I have an increased respect for cyclists that run that gauntlet on a daily basis to commute. All I wanted was to get the heck away from there (I don’t even like driving a vehicle down those narrow crowded streets)

It is not a safe or bike friendly place to be; the need for the advocacy work that the Cascade Bicycle Club and other groups do is apparent.

We rode in tight little (single file) packs to make ourselves more visible and were all greatly relieved when we pulled safely into the Seattle Center.

We crossed the finish line to the sound of cheering and thank yous.

Luckily, the only medical “incident” I had today was someone asking for a band aid at a rest stop. Basically, I answered questions, gave directions, explained group riding techniques and encouarged safe riding. No illnesses, injuries or accidents. That’s the way a ride should be!

We had a choice of a burger (there were veggie options) or pizza and a Chipotle Taco. Mmmmmm tacoooooo. I went for the pizza and taco with apple slices as my side. I enjoyed them up in the beer garden on the Fischer Pavilion deck while talking about triathlons and training.

Now I’m at home on the couch getting ready to take some Advil and a nap.

It was a good day and even if it hurt (and I do), I’m glad I did it.


Mood: Exhausted