Tuesday, May 23, 2006


Originally uploaded by sunspotting.

Saturday May 20. Afternoon. The Kipton Trail.

Our goal: to bike from Elyria to Kipton.

The funny thing, on a bike you don't expect to accumulate riders. None other than yourself. Unless you're on a tandem, and you usually have a prearranged agreement with whom you will ride.

This was my passenger today.

I love dragonflies!


Originally uploaded by sunspotting.
Omigoodness, this little fella quite surprised us! He/She/Whatever (I didn't pick it up to find out its gender. Henceforward, out of respect, it will be IT.) waddled across the path with its parent. I have never seen a juvenile groundhog in the wild before! What a rare treat! It was so frightened, the poor thing, but (greedy me) I really wanted to take its picture, so I compromised. I know I could have gotten closer and been rewarded with a better quality picture. But I chose "should" over could, and stayed a respectful distance (8-10 feet) and got way more grass than critter. It huffed and hissed at me, and I fully expected the adult groundhog to come spitting out from the underbrush, but there was nothing. Poor little thing was left to fend for itself; still, it's probably about time for that. The size? It would have fit comfortably in a bowl made of my two hands. Slightly larger than a guinea pig. I really admired its pluck. Of course, these animals don't have a terribly aggressive form of defense. (I suspect there's a sort of rude claw gesture going on in the shaded area...) I hope I boosted its sense of self-preservation.

Allllmosssst Theeerrre...

Whew! The halfway mark! That's me in the helmet and our friend Mike sans helmet and Rick's bike (with the cheeseburger bicycle bell) (that's his "carrot") at the

Originally uploaded by sunspotting.

halfway mark! I know I said that, but it's worth saying again! Actually, we were sort of ready to turn around about 2.5 miles before this point but Mike said it would give us (and by "us" he meant "him") a sense of accomplishment to actually reach the village of Kipton as long as we're on the Kipton Trail, and we're sooooooo cloooooooooooose nowwwww... *sigh*

You know what? He was right. (I'm such a whiner, but my behind was beginning to hurt... and this *was* only halfway...) It was so *completely* worth it. To ride on the Kipton Trail and not make it to Kipton, really... what's the point? And we would have missed out on a truly lovely village. We didn't stay (had nothing to do with the police officer parked at the intersection of the trail and road) but we did get a very good impression of the village. We all agreed that, given the opportunity, we would return. It's a lovely old town and there seems to be quite a bit of sprucing-up activity going on. Always a good sign! And it really was a beautiful day...

Straight Lines and Smooth, um, Sailing?

My wonderful and hunky fiance on the Kipton Trail. We had a

Originally uploaded by sunspotting.
good day. Ok, this picture doesn't show it, but we actually spent a good amount of time together. I just wanted to emphasize the straightness of the path for the MS150 newsletter he's writing for our team. We are biking for fun and health, but there's another goal in mind: the 150 mile ride in mid-August to raise loads of cash for the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. We know a bunch of folk with MS. We want to help. So we are biking for the cause! These weekly expeditions are to toughen us (and our teammates) up. This ride was 25 (or so) miles, and quite a bit easier than the ride we'll have in August. We (I) have a long way to go with our training!

Midwestern Purple Majesty

Wild phlox along the Kipton Trail. I love the transit from white to lavender to dark purple. Wind would stir them into waves, alien waters surrounding the trail.

Originally uploaded by sunspotting.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Mostly Sunny

Wow, what a weekend. And it's not even over! :-)

Friday we were at Cavs vs. Pistons; sadly, no victory. (Today, hopefully.) But what a game! So very exciting. So very LOUD!! My voice is still recovering. Today's game is about to start, and the Indians game is currently in progress, tied at 2 vs. Pittsburg. So there's not much hope for my poor vocal chords. But wait, I'm not even to Sunday yet!

Saturday we intended to get up extra early and do some quick planting. (Have you ever heard of such a thing? Yeah. Neither have we.) There really was no peeling us from the warm, comfy embrace of our dear old mattress. Our only major plans for the day were a 20-25 mile training ride with friends, and we were only a little late.

WOO *HOO*!!! Fantastic ride!!! It was the Kipton Trail, in Lorain County, in the west of the Greater Cleveland area. We’d never done it before. The trail itself was an old, disused railroad that has been paved beautifully for hiking, walking, running, skating, any non-motorized use. Because of its original purpose, the trail is flat and quite straight. Where it intersects with roads is generally clear, well marked, and easy to cross. Well worth the long drive (40+ minutes) for us!

The only disappointing thing (AT FIRST) was that Rick, our friend Mike, and I were the only participants. We 3 are from the East Side of the Greater Cleveland area. In fact, Mike only lives a few blocks away from us. Rick planned the ride to accommodate the Westsiders. You can imagine how completely thrilled we were when we got a call from our teammate Chris, saying that he started at the other end of the trail with his son Josh, and would meet us. It was a gorgeous day, a truly excellent trail (worth visiting again), and it was so much fun to ride with Chris and Josh.

The wildlife report: omigoodness, dozens of turkey vultures (they are simply breathtaking the way they play with the thermals), 4 red-tailed hawks, 5 or 6 separate sightings of groundhogs, including a mother and her offspring waddling across the trail. That was very special. A phoebe (I love their call), and too many red winged blackbirds to count (heard and seen -- another favorite call), 3 cardinals, 6 blue jays, 2 different types of woodpecker but I was going too fast to ID them. There were parts of the trail where it was lined with wild phlox in full bloom, in varied shades from white to dark purple. Very lovely. Perhaps best of all, at the beginning of the ride a dragonfly landed on my leg. That's one of my favorite insects. I felt very fortunate.

We had to rush home so Rick could get to his part-time job delivering pizzas. It ended up being a very late night, which didn't work as well with our Sunday plans, but there it is. These things happen, and one does what one does.

This morning we got up almost inexcusably early in order to attend to the needs of some very deserving athletes. Today is the day of the Cleveland Marathon. They always need volunteers to work the water and energy drink tables, and Rick's gym was assigned the table directly in front of Jacobs Field (where the Cleveland Indians baseball team play). We had so much fun!

We were at mile marker 11. The first runner came by just a little before 8 a.m. No one wanted/needed water until many runners later. After a while, we had an absolute crush of bodies, and we all got caught up in the rush of hydrating the runners. It was all arms and legs and cups and voices: "Water here, PowerAde at the end of the tables!" "You guys look great!" "Wow! Great smile! You're fabulous!" "Keep it up! You're awesome!" "Water here! PowerAde down there!"

I would SOOOOO do it again. Even that early in the morning.

I'm so glad they all get medals. ANYONE who is willing to run 26.2 miles and call it fun, call it sport, call it anything besides running away from danger, deserves something shiny to commemorate the day.

Of course, anyone who is doing it because of danger deserves amnesty...

Anyway, now that we are home, we have finally gotten to all of the plants that have so deserved our attention. The yard is finally starting to look like something to be proud of! Rick has baseball with him outside (update: Tribe victorious over Pittsburg, 3-2 in 10 innings), where he continues to do battle with weeds. I have basketball inside (go LeBron!!), where I contemplate my current felting project and where I intend to go with my next tapestry.

The sun is hiding right now. He's been playing hide and seek all day. The wind is a constant. Perhaps that is my inspiration today.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

First Post -- Sunburnt?

Yikes. What the heck am I doing? I may be a bit starstruck. After all, the sun is the closest star to our planet... That's a good place to start.

Why SunSpotting?

I live in Cleveland, a gray and dreary place for something like 170 days out of the year.

(I'll get the numbers to back that up in a future post.)

You don't notice the lack of sun so much as you are taken by the sudden scintillation of the bright thing in the sky that blinds you if you glance at it. All Cleveland women know the ecstasy of Danae receiving Zeus as a shower of gold in her lap, except we embrace the sun.

This mini-Chicago, this Rustbelt wildflower, opens up and glimmers with such a vibrant shimmer, it's like having 2 cities.

I remember reading an article by a journalist for the Plain Dealer (Cleveland's newspaper) in which he or she was explaining why he or she moved back to Cleveland from Southern California.

"The weather, but not just the usual ‘I like the change of the seasons’ business;" was the response, and it was given with an off-hand, guarded delivery.

Nobody really bought it. Southern California is just about heaven, or so said Conventional Wisdom.

"Yeah, but in Southern California you get perfect weather every day. I got complacent. We’d plan a picnic or a trip to the zoo, get side tracked, and say ‘aw, we’ll just do it tomorrow.’ You can’t do that in Cleveland. When you get a beautiful day, it’s a gift. You have to take advantage of it then and there, not put it off. And when it’s a beautiful day in Cleveland, you really notice it. I came back to Cleveland for the weather.”

No, those aren’t direct quotes. And I have no idea who the brilliantly insightful journalist was, but I am grateful to him or her everyday. I *do* notice the weather. I *do* appreciate the changes. I love the surprise of a sunny Cleveland day.