Monday, July 27, 2009

Julia Child: My Life in France

I have begun reading Julia Child's book My Life in France. (sorry, I still have not discovered the "underline" to use for books and titles; someone PLEASE enlighten me.)

I am loving this book! She wrote it using letters she and her husband, Paul, had written to his twin brother through their years abroad, maybe 10 years after World War II. To me, this book is fascinating! Maybe because I have lived abroad and can enjoy her simple day-to-day trials and language barriers. But she is a good writer, too. And to have experienced Europe so soon after the Holocaust (she and her husband were sent to Bonn in part of this book.), and through McCarthyism - when her husband was beckoned from Marseilles to D.C for interviews and accusations of Communism. And I am a fly on the wall through all of this!

And even before I became this fly on the wall, I was first an avid viewer of Julia Child's cooking shows on Public Television. WAYYyyy back in my newlywed days, then my stay-at-home-mom days, then I bought her books, and it has progressed unto this day.

On August 14, 2004, I was traveling around the Arctic Circle. I caught a radio newscast that told that Julia Child had passed away. It did touch me, as I was a fan of hers.

And now that I am reading this book of hers, I think that I would have LOVED to have met her and talked to her about her experiences. Obviously, from what I am reading in her book, she had a grasp of world politics of her time, and she and her husband seemed to make a wonderful enjoyment of whatever was presented to them. And what humor between them!

So I am happy to say that this book has inclined my attention as none other has for months. I have been on a sandbar of worthless reads (in my opinion) for several months now; I am happy to report that this book has kept my attention.

Friday, July 24, 2009

20 Rules...

...that I have broken: (in no particular order)
  • I have stepped on a crack. (my Mom's back is fine. But mine has some sketchy days.)
  • I have eaten raw cookie dough.
  • I have given my young kids raw cookie dough.
  • I didn't pick up after my dog in NYC. (And was yelled at. Nowadays I think the fine is $300.00)
  • I yelled at a fellow driver in NYC. (And was counter-yelled at. By a big irate man who climbed out of his car to do the yelling. I locked my car.)
  • I have argued with a police officer. ("My back wheels may have run the red light, but my front wheels were well within the yellow. And I was in the front seat.")
  • I tried a cartwheel in my late 40s. To see if I still have it. (Nope.)
  • I have gotten up in the middle of the night to go out and look at the stars.
  • I took up bike riding in my mid-40s. To see if I still have it. (Yes!)
  • I soundly give my opinion, frequently even if not even asked.
  • I gave my kids 1 mental health day each semester to use if they did not want to go to school.
  • I went to the Men's once. (Now, what female has not?)
  • I have gone to bed without doing the dishes. (only a few times.)
  • I grew a pineapple in Kansas last year.
  • I told my young son that there were crocodiles under his bed and that he couldn't get out of bed during the night. (He's OK, really. Going to college next month!)
  • I touched an art exhibit in a German museum once, because it looked just like a raw cut-up apple. It WAS a raw cut-up apple!! I still don't know if it was a joke. Maybe I'm on Deutsche Candid Camera somewhere.
  • I have traveled to the Southern Hemisphere with a 3-year old, a 4-year old, and pregnant with another.
  • I caused a commotion in a car repair once, utilizing 6 young kids hopping up and down in front of the counter in order to get service. Our flat was fixed post-haste.
  • I have no problem eating a handful of chocolate chips, sans raw cookie dough.
  • I let my daughter's cat sleep with us at night. This was always against the rules. But now I like it.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Laughing and Growing

Ethyl Barrymore wrote, "You grow up the day you have your first real laugh at yourself."

When would that be? I laugh at myself more frequently now than I did, say, 30 years ago. Even 40 years ago. When did I start laughing at myself?

I recall my sister Barb and I laughing at ourselves in college, the morning after a tornado warning saw us dancing on each other's heads, not altogether figuratively. Panic mode makes one dance, for sure. We did a panic dance, then ran to our bathtub, did a panic dance in the tub, and then ascertained we would only be safe if we ran across the street to the neighbors' cellar. I cannot describe what footwork we did, but suffice to say, it was funny. Funny!

Out of college and a flight attendant in New York, one afternoon I was returning home from a European flight. I was tired. I was jet-lagged. I went through U.S. Customs with no problems. I walked to the street level and headed out to the street. There was a turn-stile/baffle gate made of glass which requires pedestrians to walk single-file to the exit of the airport building. As I entered the turn-stile, so did another person, someone who looked international, and who might not have understood the "one-person-at-a-time" configuration of this baffle gate. No sooner did he approach and force-push this gate, but the glass on all four sides shattered around me. The unsuspecting person fled. The flight attendant in uniform, the one who probably should have known the mechanics of said exit, stood stalk-still for fear of lacerations. I stood there, like a specimen in glass, waiting for someone to assist me. And all I could do was laugh. People stared. Oh, well.

Any more I find lots of opportunities to laugh at myself.

The time I accidentally threw my handbag over the castle wall in Heidleburg...
The time I drove over 20 miles west, past my turnoff to "go home"...
The time I wore one slingback and one pump to church...

I could certainly go one; the moments are gaining as I write.

But! According to Ethyl, I have grown up.

~ About time.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Deer Season and Such:

It's deer season.

Probably not the shoot 'em up type, so you all with that innate urge to blow Bambi away, keep your guns and such stored away; I don't want to be responsible for your illegal jumping o' the gun. So to speak.

What I am referring to is the deer running parallel to my car this afternoon. I did not see her (I assume it was a her, there being an absence of antlers) until I was right alongside of her. Appropriate to what I have preached to that spouse o' mine and the boy and the daughters for seven long years now, I did not swerve or break, but did most certainly lay on my horn for at least one quarter of a mile. And she and I did not make our acquaintances in an untimely manner.

This would be contrary to the Car-Deer Episode #1 when that spouse o' mine nailed a very large deer (his words and my neighbors' comments) in our somewhat brand new Trailblazer. So sad. For the deer, and for us consumers who do not regularly purchase new cars.

And let's then fast-forward to Car-Deer Episode #2:  Daughter #1 had come home from college for the evening, and stayed late into the night before returning to her dorm room. I went to bed. The next morning, a Saturday (and I remember this well!), I was up making the morning brew when that spouse o' mine remarked that "Gill had a beer last night." I looked at him. And thought. And then said, "Well, ok." And he continued to look at me, his look growing allthemore askance. I stared back, puzzled. I thought, There are worse things than our daughter having a beer. But then that Spouse o' Mine repeated himself. And this time, the eau de coffee grounds must have snapped my synapses: "Gill hit a deer last night."


I was so upset. Yet the damage to her '88 Jeep was minimal. The damage to her mental well-being was greater, having to watch the deer flail on the roadside in its final minutes.

There are deer casualties all over the place, but worse are the human casualties from swerving and such. We live near two rivers, and our deer traffic from the woods to the rivers is regular. I tell all our evening guests, "Don't swerve, just nail them!" Not because I have a keen dislike for deer. On the contrary - I love our deer! But unless someone TELLS you this, your reflex is to swerve.

Just don't.

Thursday, July 16, 2009


There is some research, done somewhere, which states that on average, women say 7000 words a day, whereas men (those succinct creatures) utter just over a mere 2000 per day.

Does this surprise anyone? Not me. I live with two men. If my husband and my son think they can make their ideas known by monosyllabic means, then that's it. They adhere to Shakespeare's quote, "Brevity is the soul of wit."

Yea, whatever.

Every couple of weeks, I get together with my "coffee ladies". It's a loosely-woven group of friends who gather for, well, basically chit-chat. Half of the ladies don't even drink coffee, so I don't know who thought up THAT activity for our get-togethers. This group began about ten years before I came on the Manhattan scene, and friends come and move on and some even return after living halfway across the globe...we've seen nursery school and middle school and high school come and go; now we all have college kids and empty nests to talk about. And talk, we do! I love my coffee ladies.

Back in the years when all five of us lived under one roof (i.e., before the daughters went to college), we enjoyed most dinners at the dining room table. It was something I felt strongly about (except in the summer months May-August, when it's a free-for-all for your dining needs in the Armstrong household...). During the school year, we five could sit and have a chance to tell or hear about each other's day.

After the daughters went to college, I tried to reinstate the school year routine of dinner at the table. Just the three of us: that Spouse o' Mine, the boy, and me. Looking back, I can laugh. It could well have been a sitcom script. The guys had little-to-nothing to share about their day. Work was "fine". School was "OK". If I ventured to make a conversation, to describe some tidbit from my day, I was often met with dull stares or strained looks of two people who wanted to eat and run.

Wait a minute! What happened to our Walton evenings? Out the window, even as the daughters flew from the proverbial nest. What's funny is that when the daughters come home, often with boyfriends in tow, we can once more have a delightful dining experience with all the family: witty repartee and intelligent debate.

The fact is, I (the female) cannot carry the conversation by myself (without sounding like a blithering idiot.) The males cannot carry the conversation with their thoughts and facial expressions. Needless to say, the dining table evenings came to an end about two weeks after both daughters left for college. Now that the boy is heading off to college as well, it will be interesting to see how many of his 2000 words that Spouse o' Mine will save for the dining experience.

Tomorrow I have a luncheon date with the daughters. I can guarantee you and myself that there will be no lapse in our conversation! I am atwitter with anticipation!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

The Most Humid Place on Earth

This evening I walked outside and was knocked silly by the humidity. This happens when one, as I, arises early of a morn and does her outdoor things before the sunrise barely reaches the treetops, and then returns to her seasonal hibernation of the air conditioning for the remainder of the day. My goodness me, the air outdoors was so thick and so still, even in the dark, I could swear I could have swum in the thick dampness.

I wonder...where and who experiences the MOST humidity on this planet? (Because I do not want to conduct a job search there.) Here is what I find:

Coastal regions near the equator, during their rainy seasons:
Manilla (Phillipines)
Bangkok (Thailand) {although w/ the Thai cuisine, this humid locale could almost be bearable.}

Kuala Lampur (Malaysia) and Singapore have year-round high humidity, given their proximity to water and the Equator. Northern Tasmania (Australia) is purported to be pretty darn humid.

The lowest humidity in the United States is to be found in Yuma , Arizona. Hmmm...sorry - in my early flight attendant days, I worked flights from Central Coast California (read: cool and pleasant) to Yuma (read: a baking oven!!) The next-lowest humidity can be found in Tuscon, Arizona. I haven't spent time there, but my guess is that my comfort level there would be nil, as well.

The least-humid place in the world is Antarctica, and I think that, yes, I could indeed "weather" the weather there. At least I could give it a try!

Monday, July 13, 2009

Mr. Stone

Once when I was a kid, my Mom and our neighbor, Mrs. Green, took me along on a day trip with them. We drove to a little tiny town in Oklahoma called Locust Grove. We got out of the car and met a man named Mr. Stone.

Mr. Stone was a very nice man, from my recollection. What I remember of him was that he was soft-spoken, he had a Siamese kitten, and he was missing some fingers. We looked around at some things he had made - that he had carved and sculpted. This was a long time before my own Dad became a sculptor, so, while it was interesting and all, given my age, I think I was more intrigued by the Siamese kitten and the missing fingers.

Willard Stone was a renowned sculptor and wood carver. His works can be seen in the Gilcrease Museum, the Five Civilized Tribes Museum in Muskogee, Oklahoma, and possibly, the White House in Washington, D.C. I say possibly, because a few years ago I was reading book about sculpture in the White House, and it mentioned that Mr. Stone had a piece of sculpture in the Rose Garden. I don't know if it is still there. I do know that one of his pieces, called Lady of Spring, was in a White House exhibition about ten years ago, titled "Twentieth Century American Sculpture at The White House: Honoring Native America." It's a very pretty scuplture, in his Art Deco/Art Nouveau style.

So, I am grateful to my Mom and to Mrs. Green for hauling me around on their fun trips. It may take a little time for these "enrichment" jaunts to take root, but eventually, we kids "get it".

(As for the missing fingers? When he was 13, he picked up a blasting cap which exploded in his hand.)

Friday, July 10, 2009

I'm still doing the writer's block thing. So! I will tell you very briefly about a poet whom I do not know personally, or even remotely, but I liked his poem, as seen below. Raymond Foss was born in 1960, like me, and is not the youngest of 5 children, like me, but the oldest of five children. He has three children, like me, but his are 3 daughters, not like mine. And here is a nice poem from Mr. Foss' archives:
"A break in the heat
away from the front
no thunder, no lightning,
just rain, warm rain
falling near dusk
falling on eager ground
steaming blacktop
hungry plants
turning toward the clouds
cooling, soothing rain
splashing in sudden puddles
catching in open screens
that certain smell
of summer rain."
- Raymond A. Foss, Summer Rain

Thursday, July 09, 2009

...I got nothing.

Anyone want to offer up a writing prompt?

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

A Bit of Moral Excellence


I vote that we make "dignity" the word and concept of the year. And lifetime, for that matter. I vote we all aspire to carry out our goings on with self-respect, self-esteem, self-regard. How about regard for others, as well?

I vote that we not pander to nonsense that is shoveled to us from the press, whether it is TV, internet, newspapers, or radio. No more octomoms, divorce decrees from once-seen-as-happy families, no outlandish funeral extravaganzas.

Dignity is one of many of the Roman virtues - conformity of one's life and conduct to moral and ethical principles. Here are some others, the whole list of which can also be found in Wikipedia:
  • Clementia — "Mercy" — Mildness and gentleness.
  • Frugalitas — "Frugalness" — Economy and simplicity of style, without being miserly.
  • Honestas — "Respectability" — The image that one presents as a respectable member of society.
  • Humanitas — "Humanity" — Refinement, civilization, learning, and being cultured.
  • Industria — "Industriousness" — Hard work.
  • Pietas — "Dutifulness" — More than religious piety; a respect for the natural order socially, politically, and religiously. Includes the ideas of patriotism and devotion to others.
  • Prudentia — "Prudence" — Foresight, wisdom, and personal discretion.
  • (MY NOTE: Personal discretion - Well, that's a concept!)
  • Salubritas — "Wholesomeness" — Health and cleanliness.
  • Veritas — "Truthfulness" — Honesty in dealing with others.
  • Comitas — "Humour" — Ease of manner, courtesy, openness, and friendliness. And finally,
  • Dignitas — "Dignity" — A sense of self-worth, personal pride.
I can stand to improve myself on several of these virtues. And I hereby throw down the gauntlet.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Lessons Learned

I took my third cello lesson today! I have graduated to "Book 2". Now, instead of playing "Prelude" (which consisted of whole note Gs throughout the entire song, which I did not "get" artistically), I get to play such delights as "Dance of the Siamese Cats" (also all G notes, but they've made it a frolic of whole AND half notes!), and "Waltz of the Polar Bears" (which is all dotted half notes, but I get to mix it up with Gs, Ds, and As.)

My instructor is fun and knowledgeable. I get the impression that she teaches to a lot of kids. Case in point: in my first lesson she recited what seemed a well-versed lesson of how to carry the cello, how to hold the cello, how to hold the bow, how fragile the bow is, and why it should not be used in a sword fight. I commented that I was 49 years old and rarely engaged myself in sword fights of any type. And she and I get along great!

It's interesting to learn a completely new instrument at this stage in my life. I read music fairly well, I have played the piano since I was a wee kid, and started the flute in the 5th grade and still play both. The cello is different from the other two, and this is a fun learning curve for me.

So I wonder: who has the advantage: the kid who enrolls in orchestra class in 5th grade and takes a daily lesson with his peers, or do I, the more mature student who can already read music, has already played in bands and orchestras, who has a "practice" ethic? I wonder. I almost think the kid has the advantage of the daily exposure and peer exposure.

This reminds me of when I studied Arabic in our Cairo days. Every day I would walk to my class at Il Mahid Il Britaani (the British School) and learn to speak, and to a lesser degree, read, Arabic. It was fascinating to me. I had studied German, French, and Spanish to varying levels in school and college. But English is a Germanic language, and French and Spanish are both Romance languages - this means that the former two and the latter two were somewhat similar, so it was easy for me to assimilate the informaton. But Arabic, for me, was all by itself: a completely different alphabet, written and read from right-to-left, except numbers, which are written from left-to-right. And vowel sounds and consonants that this Okie had a hard time wrapping her tongue around.

This cello business seems much the same, in that it is completely different from the keyboard and wind instruments with which I am well-acquainted. Fortunately I do not have to rely on my cello music to acquire groceries and directions and phone messages. And boy, is THAT a relief!

Monday, July 06, 2009

Small World

Vincent Van Gogh, as we all know, was a famous Dutch painter. In the last ten years of his life he produced around 2000 works of art - paintings, sketches. He is known to have suffered mental illness(es ) of some sort, and I am not sure any theoretical diagnosis has come to be known as fact. He spent a great deal of his artisitic years living in France. When he was 35 he moved to Arles, France and spent a year painting there. Two years later, he shot himself and died two days later.

Jeanne Louise Calmet was a Frenchwoman who was born, lived 122 years, and died in Arles. That's a long time! And a long time to live in one place. When she was 13 she had the opportunity to meet Vincent van Gogh. She attributed her long and healthy life to garlic, vegetables, cigarettes, red wine, chocolate, and "avoiding brawls". I bet she and I could have been best friends! She quit smoking at age 119, because she could no longer see to light up. She took up fencing at age 85. Jeanne Louise rode a bike until she was 100. Can you imagine that? She's my kinda gal.

Le Tour wended its way through Arles this morning. I wonder if any of the cyclists had pause to think about van Gogh OR Jeanne Louise Calmet today?

Probably not.

Arles: Starry Night Over the Rhone

Sunday, July 05, 2009

Sunday's Postscript:

The Isle of Man is a little island in the middle of the Irish Sea, the center of the British Isles (much like Lebanon, KS is the center of the United States.) The residents are Manx, and I do not mean cats. Mark Cavendish is a Manxman, and he has won Stage 2 of the Tour de France: the clockwise, 187 km (116 mile) route from Monaco to Brignoles, in the south of France.

Monday's Stage 3 will go from Marseille to La Grande-Motte, still working clockwise around southern France, along the Côte d’Azur (sometimes called the French Riviera).

On an unrelated yet very, very happy note, I read today that some neuroscientist says coffee will cure Alzheimer's. That is good news. Now if they can figure out what chocolate chips will cure, I will be in good stead.

les Tours

This is Claire Armstrong.
She placed 2nd in the first stage of the Tour of Lawrence.

les Tours

This is Fabian Cancellara.
He won the first stage of the Tour de France.

Saturday, July 04, 2009

Well, I Declare!

Bah? Humbug?

Today is the 4th of July. My least-favorite holiday celebration: sweating and loud noises.

It was actually on July 2, 1776, that the 2nd Continental Congress voted to approve a resolution of independence: the legal separation of the American colonies from Great Britain. And although this is the date the resolution was voted on in Congress, the date on the Declaration states 4th of July. And to further this quandary, most of the delegates actually signed the Declaration on August 2, 1776.

But the 4th of July it is, the holiday we celebrate as our nation's independence.

As kids, we used to do dumb (and unsafe) things with fireworks. I don't recall fireworks stands being regulated too much, several decades ago. Back when we could acquire things called M-80s and such. I remember the kid down the road that nearly blew his fingers off with an M-80. We all just thought, "Wow, throw it earlier, Johnny." And we blew up cans and bottles and who-knows-what-else. (When I say "we", I think I am really referring to my 3 brothers, with me tagging along at a distance.) I vividly recall the year my brother Bob accidentally stuck the punk up my nose. The smell of burning flesh is no joke!

I remember my dad always had a cigar on the night of 4th of July. That was his punk, for the "big ones". I don't remember him ever smoking a cigar except the 4th of July, and the occasional times at the boathouse. Maybe Mom had told him cigars were outdoor things...

What do I enjoy about the Fourth? Music!! Yessirree. There is nothing better than a GREAT patriotic concert. Some Sousa, Copeland, a Shaker hymn here and a Quaker hymn there...

Today, set your flag out if you have one. Forget politics, scandals, economies, and wars. Count our blessings, say your prayers, and be proud of who we are.

Friday, July 03, 2009

Of, By, and For the People:

On this day in 1863, the third and final day of the Battle of Gettysburg occurred. So, today, let's think about this.

A few days ago I mentioned that during the 38-year reign of British King Henry VIII, approximately 72,000 people were executed for political /religious reasons. That seems like a tremendous number of souls. Especially given the methods of execution used back then.
Between 46,000 and 51,000 Americans were killed in the 3-day Battle of Gettysburg. Amazing. The town of Gettysburg held only 2400 residents. It was up to these residents to bury the dead. And burn the 3000 or so dead horses also lying in the summer sun. The people of Gettysburg received quick authorization to purchase 17 acres, and commenced burial of the fallen soldiers.

Four months later, in November, the dedication of Soldiers' National Cemetery was attended by some 15,000 people. The program for the dedication included music by the Marine band, and two speeches. One was given by Edward Everett, a man who had served as Secretary of State, as State Senator, Governor, and in other political offices. His speech lasted two hours. The speech that followed Everett's was given by, as we all know, President Abraham Lincoln. His Gettysburg Address lasted only 2-3 minutes. I'll bet the 4th and 5th graders of this nation are grateful that Lincoln's Gettysburg address is the one deemed more meaningful of the two, since most students (at last our three!) have been required to memorize that succinct speech while in grade school:

"Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.
Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation, so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.
But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate...we can not consecrate...we can not hallow this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us—that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion—that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain—that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom—and that government: of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth."

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Come whatever...

Today in 1863 was the second day of the Battle of Gettysburg.

But I am not going to write about that. I am going to write about Alta Vista instead.

Alta Vista is a tiny little town in our county, population just over 400. Except for the fact that we are smack! in the center of the continental United States (Ok, that's an exaggeration: Lebanon, Kansas lies SMACK! at the the geographic center of the lower 48.), one might think that this tiny little town was anticipating a hurricane from the Gulf of Mexico. All the windows on the south sides of all the buildings are boarded up. The Lutheran church's beautiful 2-story stained glass windows: plywood.

A few weeks ago, Alta Vista experienced a whopper of a hailstorm. 70 mph winds and hail the size of baseballs. Contrary to hurricane victims, hailstorm victims get little (mainly, no) warning of impending danger. The hail just comes in fast and leaves just as quickly. The Alta Vistans had not boarded their windows in preparation, they boarded up the gaping holes left behind after the storm passed. It is a strange sight to enter this little town from the south, because all one sees is plywood-covered windows. Every house! Nancy, from Alta Vista Packing, lost 11 windows in her home. He car windshield was broken out, and her husband's truck was totalled. She described her evening as such: she just got out of the shower and heard the first hailstone hit the house. And she thought to herself, "Well, there's hail." And no sooner than that, the hail started coming through her windows, into her house! She held her hands out to show me, about the size of a very large tomato. The wind-propelled glass cut through her sofa. The glass shards ruined her carpet and that will have to be replaced.

If one continues the drive through the town, one can see the south side of metal buildings and a few mobile homes which looked like they had been surfaced like a golfball. But these were not tiny dimples; it looked like someone had spent a month of Sundays with a sledgehammer to these buildings. It is the most interesting thing to see.

I think the person who originally coined the term, "Come hail or high water" might rethink those words if they could see THIS town!

Wednesday, July 01, 2009


On this day in 1863, the Battle of Gettysburg began.

But I'm not going to write about that today. I am going to write about me instead.

The past week or so, I have been quite diligent in arising at dawn and going out on an 18+-mile bike ride. If that Spouse o' Mine accompanies me, we go speedy-fast. If it's just me, I maintain a fair-to-middlin' pace, one that allows me to observe the gorgeous morning skies and to listen to the songbirds flitting about. I wonder if it is my imagination, or if birds really are more vocal in the morning than other times of the day?

If I am drafting behind that Spouse o' Mine, all I am concentrating on is the 12-18" between his rear tire and my front tire. My head is down, and I listen for traffic. There is little more I can think about but keeping my pedaling in sync with his, remembering to breathe, and to peek around him regularly in search of roadkill or other junk in our path. We are like two Canada Geese flying down the human highway.

Imagine holding your hands on handlebars for an hour or two or three, shifting their positions ever so slightly so as to permit the blood circulation to continue through your wrists and fingers. Now imagine doing this, and a few hours later, attending the second cello lesson of your summer: Bow Position, or How to Hold Your Bow.

Well, I am sorry, but my wrists and thumbs and fingers were all funned out and did not want to play (the cello) anymore. My instructor is picky picky about position, and I didn't want to say, "Oh, sorry, those 18 miles I knocked off this morning prohibit any Yo Yo Ma quality today." I wonder if she thinks I have a physical disability? (Well, I sorta did...temporarily...)

Next week I will do better - both in the cycling arena and in the cello session. As for now, well, I am going to go sit out and enjoy watching the grass grow.
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