Category Archives: Fitness


I got a letter from the city last month that prior to the re-surfacing project in Tangletown, they will be re-doing some of the curbs.  (I am technically part of the Tangletown neighborhood, but my street is actually a county road, so I am not affected by this.)  Every morning Guinevere and I have been seeing signs of the project; they dug up all the affected curbs first and then are going back to add the new concrete.

When we came around a corner yesterday, we were surprised by a group of ELEVEN construction workers, all in their neon yellow vests, standing around one of the holds where a curb had been.  While we watched, the concrete mixer started to whirr and soon there was concrete glopping into the hole.  Two of the eleven worked to control where the concrete was pouring and the other nine started smoothing out the mixture.  I’m not sure if they really needed nine guys to do this, but I’m sure it made the job go quickly.

As Guinevere and I continued on our walk, I said to her “well, now you’ve been to a concrete workers’ convention”.   She was more interested in the smells along the sidewalk than the convention.  I kept thinking about it and realized that except for two Stampin’Up annual conventions about 20 years ago, I haven’t been to any other conventions.  Trade shows yes, conventions no.  Full disclosure — I did drive a friend downtown to a Star Trek convention once and drove around the block several times while he ran in to buy a couple of t-shirts.  But I didn’t actually go inside so I’m not counting that!

Have you ever been to a convention?  Any good stories?

Pedal to the Metal

I live next door to a five-year old.  It’s fun to see her growing up; she has a different temperament than YA had as a child.  On Thursday, she was sporting a brand new pink helmet and then her dad took the training wheels off her bike.

They started in the backyard, on the grass – doesn’t every parent do this, hoping for a softer landing than on concrete?  On Saturday, they went up to the high school, where there is a lot more flat grass.  Then on Sunday afternoon, as she was working on it in the driveway, her dad let go of the seat and she was biking!  She practiced for about another 30 minutes; she still needs a little shove to get going but other than that, she’s got it!

It made me think about YA learning to ride a bike.  We didn’t even try in our yard, since it’s very bumpy, but we did practice at the high school.  YA was not a natural rider and for a couple of weeks she was incapable of seeing an obstacle and then being able to avoid it.  I remember thinking that learning to ride a bike is way more complicated than it appears on the surface.

I was five when I learned, starting in the grass like my little neighbor did and eventually graduating to the elementary school parking lot.  I still remember the thrill of realizing that my dad wasn’t holding me up any longer and I was flying along on my own.  According to Nonny, I fell and scraped my knee rather badly but I don’t remember that part at all, just the wind on my face and my legs pumping the pedals!

Do you remember learning to ride a bike?




Husband is slow. Motorically slow. He always has been slow.  He really can’t do much of anything quickly, and it has been a source of frustration for him that I can do things quickly.  Really quickly.  When I did my psychology internship at a VA hospital in Iowa, we interns were administered  the same  battery of neuropsychological tests that we would eventually administer to the patients.  One of the tests was the Purdue Pegboard, which is a large board with holes for pegs, and you time people to see how fast they can put the pegs in the holes. It assesses bilateral motor speed and coordination. I had the fastest time ever for anyone who had taken the test at that clinic.

Last week, I got a notification from that recent analysis of my DNA revealed me to have the Sprinter gene, common in athletes, especially in successful short distance runners. I never was an athlete, but my dad was, and he was really speedy.  In high school he could zip around the basketball court so fast that he once caused the boy assigned to guard him to start crying during a game because he couldn’t keep up with him.  He did most things really fast, and I am pretty sure I inherited that gene from him.

What genetic advantage  do you think you inherited? Make up a gene you would like to have.


Khaki & Backpack

There is a Wyndham hotel right across the street from the Lima International Airport. Although Lima is a gigantic city of 11 million, it is just a quick stopover for many tourists who are on their way to the interior of the country to see Machu Picchu.  In fact, the Wyndham does a very brisk business for those arriving from the States at 12:30 and 1 a.m. in the morning, who then turn around to depart the next morning for Cusco and other cities farther south and east.  At 1:30 a.m. the front and bell desks are fully staffed!

There might be folks staying at the hotel who are NOT heading off to hike in the mountains, but you can’t tell by looking at them. Everywhere you look the view is khakis and backpacks.  At breakfast (which opens at 4 a.m.), even families are all dressed in khaki and even the smallest kids have backpacks (although you see more red and pink backpacks at this age).  Hiking boots and sturdy shoes always round out the ensembles.

It is such a ubiquitous outfit that our last morning in Cusco, I was startled (yes, startled) to see a group of five women at breakfast in extremely fashionable clothing. Tight leather-ish pants, a lacey red blouse and the little short black jacket of one woman definitely caught my eye.  And shiny red heels that were so high that if I were to wear them, I would have to super glue my feet onto them to keep from slipping right off.  She and the other four women looked lovely and very stylish, but definitely not in keeping with the khaki and backpack set!

What item in your closet do you wear the most?

Home Remedies

I got a phone call from Daughter the other night, breathless to tell me with great glee that her best friend’s dad, a rancher and veterinarian drug rep, had found the elixir for longevity. Yep. He decided somehow that dog de-wormer was the key to long life and disease prevention. He was taking a dose every day.

This doesn’t surprise me. Our region is noted for its high acceptance of alternative medicine. People who claim to cure all sorts of things by moving one’s cerebral-spinal fluid in the opposite direction with magnets thrive here.

My paternal grandmother believed that aspirin could cure insomnia. My father was a great believer in massive doses of Vitamin E.  I can’t tell you the number of bottles of vitamins and supplements we threw out after he died. He also believed that cherries would cure arthritis. He once ate a whole lug of cherries over the course of 24 hours.  My mother believed for a while that that drinking the colostrum milk from cows that had just had their calves would cure her Multiple Sclerosis. She said it tasted dreadful.  They both lived into their 90’s, so I can’t say that it harmed them. (I know for a fact, though, that had my father had a colonoscopy in his 70’s or 80’s he would have not died of colorectal cancer at 93. I don’t know why he never had one.)

What are your favorite home remedies? What are some of the more fantastical home remedies you have heard of? 

The Blues

Maybe not a breakfast topic, but what the heck!

Last Thursday I woke up in the wee hours and couldn’t get back to sleep. Even turning on my “go-to-sleep” movies didn’t help.  Then when I finally decided to just get up, I had a headache – an unusual occurrence for me.  I was scheduled to give blood later in the morning so spent a couple of minutes checking on Google if there was anything I could take for a headache before getting stuck.

Then I trudged into the bathroom and blew my nose. It was blue.  I’m not kidding.  And not just any blue, but aqua blue.  Bright aqua blue.  Disturbing to say the least.  Since I had the laptop all powered up, I headed back to my room and searched “blue ____ (fill in your favorite word)”.  I was not really expecting to find anything, but it’s the internet, so I should have known better.  Apparently there is a bacteria (Pseudomonas pyocyanea) that causes this blue output.  One of the other symptoms – headache! This infection doesn’t seem to be majorly life-threatening although a few websites did say if it went on for more than a day or so, you should definitely get to your doctor.  Great. So then I spent time trying to figure out if I should give blood if I might have this bacterial infection.  That I couldn’t find.

I was still struggling with whether I should cancel my trip to the blood mobile when I went downstairs. As I went to get Rhiannon’s morning pill on the kitchen counter, my eyes fell on the Ukrainian dye that I had stirred up the night before.  Purple and — wait for it — aqua.  The dyes are made up of really fine powder; I must have gotten some of it in the atmosphere and breathed it in.  Subsequent nose blowings confirmed the blue to be a one-time occurrence and not a continuing “infection”.  I felt like an idiot after spending at least an hour searching online.

Hypochondria isn’t an affliction that I usually count among my foibles, but after Thursday, I’m not so sure anymore.

Any embarrassing revelations to take the heat off of me?

Mind Games

Jacque mentioned yesterday that she thought Husband’s challenge for imaginary dinner guests was the result of filling time during Great Plains travel. She wasn’t far off.  Travel out here is tedious. People at the conference I attended were somewhat surprised to hear that we drove to Minneapolis, since it was “only” 500 miles from our home.

I listen to classical music on the radio, either streamed from MPR at home or at work, or else the Symphony Hall station on our car radio. I challenge myself to identify the composer and/or the name of the piece before the announcer says them.  I pretend I am in a competition. I listen to music whenever I can, so I do the challenge quite a lot. I have  a really good auditory memory, and I recognize pieces quite quickly. (I can always tell if it is the Concordia Choir on the MPR Choral Stream just by the sound.)  It is coming up with the name of the piece and the composer that is tricky. I find that the more pieces I recognize, the harder it is to sort out exactly what the name of the piece is. My brain is getting too full.  I am pretty good at recognizing pieces by Brahms or Schumann. They have distinctive patterns of harmonies and rhythms. Mendelssohn and Schubert can sometimes confuse me.  I always know Stravinsky and Prokofiev, but sometimes  late Prokofiev sounds like Shostakovitch

As I was in a wind band in college, I can identify Vaughan Williams and Holst and Grainger very easily, but distinguishing Molly on the Shore from Handel in the Strand is sometimes hard.   I am  somewhat embarrassed to say that I  can always identify the Polka and Fugue from Schwanda the Bagpiper and also know the name of the composer. It is so distinctive.

I know that Baboons have various areas of interest. Mine is classical music. I hope that my classical habit helps keep my mind alert and healthy.

What are you doing that keeps your mind active and healthy. How are you at identifying the names of musical pieces and their composers?

Feeding Frenzy

Photo Credit: RitaE

In odd news this week, Molly Schuyler, a competitive eater, has taken the Z Burger Annual Burger Eating Contest for the fifth time. This year she ate 32 burgers in 10 minutes (complete with buns), breaking her record of 27 burgers last year.

I’ve never understood competitive eating. I’m not sure why being able to stuff your gut with massive amounts of food is something to be lauded. There is a show on the Cooking Channel right now called Man vs. Food and each episode ends with the host (whose name I can’t remember) takes on an eating challenge.  I haven’t watched a whole show but have seen bits and pieces, enough to know that there is always a crowd standing around urging him on as he gorges on whatever platter is in front of him.  Why is this interesting, I just don’t know.

And competitive eating during which the contenders eat hot things like peppers baffles me even more. I think it would be a sad thing to say about my own life if I’d need to get a high from torturing my digestive system.

Have you ever won a contest?

Down the Rabbit Hole

Over lunch today I thought I’d watch John Oliver – he always makes me laugh while he’s giving me something to think about. That video led me to a SciShow piece debunking last week’s news about a study purporting that cell phone use was causing horns in young people.  That led me to a long piece on “How I Found Out” about flat earthers and the next step was to look up the big 2024 solar eclipse to see the closest spot to Minneapolis to see it in totality.  That led me to the calendar to find out what day of the week that will be in 2024.  Then I searched a bit to see if the calendar that I like for my fridge was done for 2020 yet, which led me to Amazon.  There I decided to check on an order that I placed a few days ago and was happy to see that my world map was on the truck for delivery. Then I got a text from a girlfriend about dinner tonight – how about El Jefe?  I googled them, they are closed on Mondays, so then spent time googling a few other restaurants, which  led me to recipes using corn and queso fresco.

Then suddenly my lunch hour was over and I hadn’t even finished eating my lunch!

What distracts you?  What rabbit hole have you been down recently?

A Perfect Weekend

I try not to let my anticipation get the better of me. It’s been my habit to keep my expectations down so it was a little worrisome how much I was looking forward to this past weekend.  What if it wasn’t up to snuff?

I got up early on Saturday and went to Great Harvest Bakery for three-cheese bread and monster cookies. Gym and then coffee and some reading until it was time for a stamping workshop.  Then some serious yardwork, doing clean up all along the south side of the house and the front with YA.  Chinese take-out for dinner.

More sleeping in on Sunday, Brueggers for heart-shaped bagels, gym and then once home, made peanut butter cheesecake brownies while watching James Bond. Then more yard clean up and the planting of the bales and flower baskets.  More time with YA.  Then a funny card and cookbook from YA for Mother’s Day.

In between all this, some assorted chores also got done and now I’m reading while I wait for Colombo to come on at 7.   I can’t think of what could be added to make a more perfect weekend, although it would be nice to not have all scratches on my arms from cutting back the raspberry canes or the splinter in my finger that I haven’t been able to get at yet.

What would be your favorite weekend? (Two days only however money and physics are no object!)