Friday, July 28, 2006

Monsoon Season in Cleveland Has Begun

Training ride, Thursday, 27 July.

No pictures.

No camera would have survived this ride except those rated for serious underwater use.

Mike Su. crafted a way cool ride, which included an architectural tour of parts of Cleveland and Cleveland Heights. We started with St. Ann's Church at Coventry and Cedar, progressed to the Alcazar Hotel, then Lakeview Cemetery and down Mayfield Rd. through Little Italy.

Did I say "down Mayfield Rd"? Literally DOWN. It's a two-lane road on a very steep hill as you approach Little Italy from Cleveland Heights. It requires description at this point because of what happened next on our adventure. A not-so-polite car driver got right up behind Rick (our last wheel at this point), rode quietly for a bit, then laid on with the horn. So very considerate. What a kind-hearted person. I will trust that this person's karma rewarded him richly!

We took a glance at Severance Hall and continued onto Chester, a 3-lane (each way) divided boulevard. Plenty of room for cars to get around us! And not a bad place to ride: well-lit, the traffic lights are timed fairly reasonably, and again, there were 2 whole lanes motorized traffic could use to get around us. Despite the abundance of room, a woman yakking on her cel-phone nearly sideswiped me while making her turn from E. 55th St. onto Chester. Ah well, the important thing is that she missed.

After a little noodling around the E. 40th St. neighborhood, heading north of Chester (including a quick ride past my old workplace, Mazzolini Artcraft on E. 41st) we saw lightning. It started to hint at drizzle. Although we had only gone 1/3 of Mike's planned route, it was wisely decided to return to Mike and Patti's.

What a good thing we did, too! The skies burst. Biblical rains pelted us; we were drenched as completely as you can imagine before we got back to E. 55th St. The sky turned black (only partially due to the setting sun), which helped emphasize the size and frequency of the lightning.

The lightning was spectacular. It was the kind of show that, if I'd been home, I'd've been sitting on the front porch watching. We didn't have the same feeling of security, riding around on our "lightning rods on wheels"! But there was no other way to get home.

I wore a bright red windbreaker, anticipating earlier there might be a little rain. Do you know, that same nice, bright red looks absolutely black when wet, and the only source of light is streetlights? Well, *I* didn't know prior to the ride. I'll make another choice the next time we expect to ride in the rain. Sounds like a trip to the thrift store is in my future.

Red, regardless of how bright the shade, may not be the best choice when selecting visible clothing colors for night or twilight rides.

We all made it back to Mike's house, each of us in one piece, very soggy but unelectrified. "Soggy" was definitely preferred over "crispy". Patti made yummy grilled cheese sandwiches, we popped some corn, ate other starchy-salty goodness (chips and more chips), and dried off in fluffy robes with fun conversation while our clothes tumbled in the dryer.

Yeah. That was an adventure. We do carefully monitor weather sites before every ride. This was a whopper of a storm that developed without the hours of warning we count on. In a way I am glad it surprised us so we didn't cancel the ride. I'm *more* glad the experience is behind us. But we all agreed we feel infinitely better prepared for the proverbial "anything" that is predicted to happen on the ride.

There was never, at any point once the rain started, a safe opportunity to take a cameraphone picture. I probably could've gotten a really charming shot of the four of us in warm snuggly garb, but I was worried the phone had been damaged by the rain. I didn't bother checking until today (it's fine) because after all that rich life experience, I didn't want any bad news. You will have to take my word for it, or check with Rick, Mel, or Mike Su. to verify the tale.

What, AGAIN?!?

Chase Scene.jpg, originally uploaded by sunspotting.

Are the inmates running the asylum, or do we have an aging equipment problem in the City of Cleveland? Second & *third* police cars I've seen towed this month!?

For the first one, see my earlier posting, "We Barely Had Time for a Double Take/They're Towing WHO??" We caught that one on 6 July during evening rush hour.

Time and Location: about 8:20 am on Wednesday, 26 July, at the intersection of Carnegie and E. 55th St.

I particularly like the school bus-yellow Corvette in apparent hot pursuit. Disappointing note: THIS time, there were no officers in the cars.

Monday, July 24, 2006

cool green bug up close

cool green bug up close, originally uploaded by sunspotting.

This was at midnight last night/this morning. We saw japanese beetles, inchworms, and THIS. What a gorgeous little bug! I love it. I think he should be called Gordon.

Flower Power

Bee on Sunflowers 19, originally uploaded by sunspotting.

24 July.
Don't you feel like you're part of a swarm? Maybe a beeline? It's like the camera was on a tether dangling from her abdomen. Now THAT would be a beeline. She was remarkably patient with me.

(Yes, without a doubt she's a she. All bees you see are SHE. Worker bees are always 'she'. The drones are 'he' and they don't leave the hive until they get kicked out for winter.)

Today is my parents' wedding anniversary, the second one since Mom died. I spent part of this morning taking pictures in my front and back yard of flowers and the insects on them. Seemed like a better thing to do than just sit and be sad.

On a day like today, Mom would have been in her gardens.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Day's Eye

Day's Eye, originally uploaded by sunspotting.

Today we gardened. Or, more accurately, we weeded. Everything is cleaner! Plants that were choked this morning by hordes of uninvited chaos (does anyone ever really invite chaos?) can breathe again. We cleared away dried left-overs from previous weeks, like the above daisies. Next year's daisy growth is already spreading. Gladiolas are about to burst. Gaillardias are seriously going bonkers, as are the snapdragons. Pictures tomorrow, I promise. In the meantime, enjoy these blooms from a cooler season.

Since We Didn't Ride...

Independence Bike Shoppe.jpg, originally uploaded by sunspotting. bike needed a new hanger ... um... THINGIE. Bolt, I think. For my rear gears. (I'm not a BIKER. I just ride a bike.) We were in Parma and had the MS150 list and a coupon for 10% off stuff and service we went in search of a nearby participating shop. Independence was closest.

Independence Bike Shoppe on Brecksville Road didn't have the piece we needed because they don't carry my brand of bike, but they were very friendly and helpful and I sure wish we could have given them the biz. If you're ever in the neighborhood, look them up. They rock.

Best of all, look closely in the window. To the left in the main picture at the top of this post. Do you see them? Look closer! That's ok, here are some details.

PEDAL CARS! They are so darn cool! My grandparents had a vintage fire engine pedal car on their farm when I was a kid, it was such a blast to play with. And these have great paint jobs. Check out the flameage! Just too cool.

Rain and the Alleged Ride

Rain at Big Creek.jpg, originally uploaded by sunspotting.

Saturday, 22 July.
We elected NOT to do our weekly ride today. Rainclouds kept dumping on us. Playing with us. It would rain, let up, rain harder, get sunny while drizzling, stop raining, pour, rinse, repeat. Such unreliable weather: you call THAT a *pattern*??. Before things could get seriously flaky (it wasn't actually *that* cold) we called it a day.

This was the view out of our car window at Big Creek Parkway off Snow Road in Parma. After a bunch of false starts and even a lengthy stay at Panera with Mel. Aside from yummy warm tea and the good company of Mel, I'd say this photo was the best thing about the Alleged Ride.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Beginning and End of the Line

50-mile Training Ride. 90 degrees F. Humid? You betcha.

Wallace Lake in Berea was our base. We started here and ended here. The journey was an excellent one. I am proud of my ride, and I am proud of our team, especially on such a hot day. Ending was nice, though.

By the way: motorcycle in the background? Ha. No motors for us. We used blood, sweat, tears, bone, muscle, tendon. (*grin* like I'm even a little bit hard core.) Although I fully acknowledge we'll be very grateful for the Motored Ones on SAG duty during Pedal to the Point.

SuperMIKE, Able to Bike Long Distances for A Single Beer

Striking a heroic pose, Mike Sub. is the image of the Selfless MS150 Rider. Indeed, shouldn't everyone want to be like Mike? Hey -- MAYBE that's why we've got 3 Mikes on the team.

More Marina merriment, as we wait for everyone to refill waterbottles and empty bladders and shake out sore muscles. This was where 3 riders separated and headed back south, while the rest of us soldiered onwards north to the Tall Ships. We were sorry to miss the 3, but look forward to them rejoining us on future rides.

This is the first ride we have gone on where we have come close to wearing a uniform, and it was entirely accidental. Many (not all) wore black shorts and white t-shirts. It was almost no-brainer-ish in its simple practicality, as most of us have black bike shorts. And weather reports kept saying things like, "stay inside, keep still, no unnecessary effort, people die in weather like this", so white seemed like the right shirt choice over, say, black or brown. As we are such an excellent assortment of individuals, I did NOT pick up on this until today, looking at the pictures. Hooray for uniforms not stripping us of our individuality!!!!!

Elegant Vessels

Elegant Vessels, originally uploaded by sunspotting.

More images from lunch during our July 16th 50-mile bike ride. Such a great day -- frankly, I don't know which was more enjoyable: the bike ride, our fabulous team, or these spectacular ships. It's got to be a three-way tie.

No. The team wins! I wouldn't have enjoyed any of it as much as I did without my friends on Patti's Paladins.

In the middle photo to the right, look closely for the small metal lion hidden on deck. This ship is the blue ship pictured in the top photo, the one in the right with no sails open.

The photo to the left is a detail of a ship from Russia that sails with no rudder, just sails. The technology it relies upon is akin to that once used by Vikings in their longboats. The entire ship was a riot of brilliant color, simply a festival for the retinas. I just looked at it and looked at it and looked at it. The three ship's residents are the Captain, his wife the artist, and their tailless cat, very appropriate for a rudderless ship.

Tall Ships and Halfway There.jpg

Fantastic! Northcoast Harbor at Great Lakes Science Center across the harbor from the Rock Hall, with the Festival of Tall Ships. We had lunch here, and enough time to stretch our backs and shake out our legs. Once we turned around, we *really* kicked it into high gear! We left downtown sometime between 1:30 and 2, with mileage showing over 26 1/2 miles. The next time Rick and I looked at a clock was at 4:30, as our car pulled out of the parking lot at Wallace Lake, packed up with bikes riding us for a change!

But before we jump *that* far ahead, there was stuff to look at in the Harbor (see other pictures in other posts), and there were neighborhoods to crank through. To the right was one fairly treacherous one. Not because it's a bad place to get caught after dark. Loads of hazards for a person on a bike here: sand, distraction, and the heinous hill coming up immediately ahead of us. Nevermind the hazards involved if you want to actually venture into the polluted mess we call 'water', or find a syringe-free spot on the beach. But isn't it beautiful?

O Blessed Shade.jpg

O Blessed Shade.jpg, originally uploaded by sunspotting.

July 16 hit 90 degrees F, with huge humidity. It was only comfy in the shade or if we kept moving. Hot and thick. But we were quite crowded on the path!! I only took pics 'in gear' when it was clear of traffic. There were loads of runners, walkers, inline skaters, skateboarders, and other bikers in each direction, not to mention motor traffic to mind at every crossing (great, isn't it?). We did more than 50 miles. We even had fun. There were smiles, and not just for relief, at the end of the ride. Next week 60?

10 Waiting for 4.jpg

10_Waiti.jpg, originally uploaded by sunspotting.

Training ride, 16 July. 50 miles. Not even 2 miles out, Chad's front tire went flat. Mel (pitstop angel second week in a row -- woo HOO!! We are fortunate indeed to call you friend.) and Mike Sl. stayed back as pit crew, the remaining 10 pushed on. Here we are, waiting in the shade for them to catch up. After a while we decided to push onwards closer to the next official rest stop. They are among the fastest crankers of our 20+, so we had no worries!

Not Yer Average Biker Gang.jpg

Not_Yer_.jpg, originally uploaded by sunspotting.

Patti's Paladins Lactic Acid Swim Team perform on SUNDAY SUNDAY *SUNDAY*!!! (nitro-burning funny bikes??)

Heat and humidity makes Clevelanders do strange things. Like ride bikes for 50 miles just for the heck of it. No. It was fun. It was only work for the last maybe 15 miles or so. We are getting stronger.

Christina, focused on the goal (we are just starting out at this point) in the foreground, and Rick, exuberant in the background.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Post-Ride Karmic Dog Drama, July 13

Hostile About Hostas.jpg, originally uploaded by sunspotting.

So we got home after the race against the setting sun to see the Tall Ships (still Thursday, 13 July). The conversation turned to our next training ride, on Sunday the 16th, and how we'd like to change the start time. But mosquitos were attacking with blitzkrieg ferocity, and I suggested we head inside to conclude our discussion while we still had body fluids.

It wasn't long before the other riders left our home for theirs. Cleopatra, all high strung and excited about getting out of her kennel and finding new legs to sniff, reeeeeallllly needed Outside again. Yes, we capitalize it. Just like Walk and Ride and Treat. It's one of the Words You Don't Say Until You Mean To Act Upon It.

I don't think she was outside more than 5 minutes before I smelled something strong and herby in a juicy way, very hard to put a finger on to completely identify; it was simply too strong. Then I heard Cleo snuffing, and her tags were jangling. Something (we don't know what, and it wasn't strong enough to have been a skunk... perhaps a very juvenile skunk... but it really wasn't the right smell for that) came into our yard last night about 15 minutes after the riders all left. When we brought her into the house she was freaking out (UNDERSTATED!!!), rubbing herself all over the floor, shaking her head to the point I thought she was having a seizure, and worst of all: foaming drool was dripping from her mouth. To be honest, I don't know if the foam or the shaking head was the worst bit. The combination was beyond disturbing.

I was paralyzed. Rick took us both under his control and insisted that the first thing we do was bathe her, his assessment being that she got something nasty in her mouth and eyes. It was a good plan. There was a strong smell of garlic or onions, and we do have alliums (a decorative member of the onion family) planted in the backyard. Onions are poison for dogs, the smaller the dog the more potent the dose, kind of like chocolate... but Cleo's discerning tongue delicately avoids them even when they are buried in food.

Cleopatra, Desert Queen, will not go down the porch stairs when the atmosphere is threatening to sprinkle. She is my foolproof weathergirl: she needs to come in a full 25-30 minutes before the rain starts, I've timed it. We didn't turn on the shower. Initially soaping up was no difficulty; rinsing off was a whole nother ballgame. The ballpark souvenier cup-fulls of water were TORTURE. She SCREAMED. I fully expected police and S.W.A.T. to come screaming up in sympathy to rescue the poor soul being put to such obvious grisly death in our razorblade bathtub.

And then: Blisssss. She likes the hairdryer. It helped to calm her down. Hot, dry air must gentle the primal parts of her basenji brain, and basenjis are pretty much ALL primal. This is a lovable yet very primitive breed, almost more like having a fox hybrid than pure dog (my opinion). See: (notice the first file she has is "reasons NOT to get a basenji") (a startlingly good and thorough entry!!!)

We let her rub herself on the bathmat and lick her forelegs while training the hairdryer all over her body. Gradually she lost the manic behavior. Her tightly curled tail released and she laid down for a while, basking in the desert air. Rick wrapped her in his towel and handed her to me, so I could carry her downstairs. We snuggled in a chair for quite a while.

The good news and the final bit about the story is that our house does not seem to smell like skunk. I don't think. I hope it doesn't. There is a peculiar strong onionness, but Febreze seems to be doing its thing. Skunk musk needs acid to cut through its chemical cocktail, so I am further convinced there is something a bit rotten in the Street of Kildare... (well, Kildare ROAD, really, but you know where I was going...) (iambic pentameter is the rhythm to which I skip!!!) (what a nerd) (yeah, I work at it *grin*) but the rottenness has more to do with people and not so much to do with wild animals roaming about doing what nature intends. And, yes, nature intends skunks to use that spray, it's their only means of protection from animals with senses of smell. Fortunately for us, many local owls love to eat skunks, and they can't smell. (Now if only we could get Al Gore to use *that* as an argument, maybe he'd get folk to listen by means other than scaring them to death.)

Anyway, click on Cleo at the top of this posting to be swept to my Flickr account for more Cleopics or other weird stuff that catches my attention and makes it through my shutter.

*** as basically told to Christina Getrost on 14 July, part of an apology for Cleopatra's snappish behavior the same evening. I sort of feel like my little Cleobug got shoved a wee bit past her Karmic comeuppance. Especially in the bathtub.

Friday, July 14, 2006

borderlands and bookending the ride

Queen Anne's Lace border.jpg, originally uploaded by sunspotting.

This was the last picture I took on the ride. It's (another) one of my favorite wildflowers. If you've ever been anywhere in nature with me, it is impossible to keep me from spouting some bit of arcane knowledge about what's surrounding us.

Queen Anne's Lace is not only very beautiful, it is sometimes edible and sometimes medicinal (and therefore sometimes dangerous). I like it best when it is in a huge mass like this.

Earlier, before we got on our bikes, Rick found a young preying mantis on our back porch. I love mantids!!! They are (sigh. yes, ANOTHER) one of my favorite orders of insects (Order Dictyoptera). This one, being so young, was simply so delicate. Because it was so small I had to get out my 70-300 lens for the first time. I can't think of a better way to break that lens in! Or a better subject. The graceful symmetry. The crisp shadow. The perfect color. Here is a little gem.

The List: Old, check. New, check. Borrowed...

Yeah, it's got 'em all. Old from the Tall Ship in the middle, visible only by its masts and flags. New AND Borrowed are present both in the architecture of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame building. Blue? That's the largest feature in the image. Even after the sun set the blue sky kept us company for quite a while on this ride.
Obligatory Team Pic
(nice horizon...) And here's a sampling of the Usual Suspects. In order left to right, Mel, Mira, Mike S., Rick and Christina. We had to make alternative plans pretty fast as the sun was about 10 minutes from setting right about when we got here, and this was our turnaround. We got back to E. 105th St. in record time! Having a little girl along for the ride is an effective motivator.


Peaceful.jpg, originally uploaded by sunspotting.

It was a perfect evening. I feel so sorry for those who couldn't manage the escape velocity needed to break away from the tv.

It gets better. As if to tantalize us, almost as a nautical carrot dangling before our straining muscles (ok, this was outward bound, we weren't straining YET... furthermore, at this point in the ride everything is downhill...) on the horizon are sailboats. Junior in comparison with the Tall Ships, but a suitable hors d'oevre with which to whet the palate.

And then, through the trees, this sight.

Masts of the Tall Ships and the decommissioned U.S.S. Cod submarine sillhouetted by the setting sun. As seen while on a bicycle, July 13, 2006.

My Own Concrete Presence

Action.jpg, originally uploaded by sunspotting.

I guess I feel compelled to show proof of ridership. I take most of the ride pics 'on the wheel'. I like the brilliant little sliver of Lake Erie in the upper right corner.

July 13, approaching sunset and the Tall Ships with a small group of Patti's Paladins out for a training ride.

WOO HOO! Up To Date!

Smiling and Riding.jpg, originally uploaded by sunspotting.

This is a picture of a happy group of bikers on their way to Northcoast Harbor to see the Tall Ships on Thursday, July 13. In front is Mel, inches behind her (hidden on her mommy's bike where you can't see her) is her daughter Mira, who will be 3 in September, on the bike behind them is Christina, and on the bike next to them all is Mike S.

Ahead of us, seen in the photo to the right is Rick. Not only is he our fearless team leader, he is an excellent trail scout. We caught up with him. This evening we ALL pedalled like the Mongol Horde was behind us. (Although I do think it would have been interesting to talk to Ghengis Khan. Quite a very compelling figure.)

Another gorgeous night for a bike ride! We got in 17 miles and saw the ships before darkness finally enveloped us.

on my wishlist

on my wishlist.jpg, originally uploaded by sunspotting.

Yes, I AM judging this book by its cover. But WHAT a *cover*!!!!

I think it's fair to say our wedding will be very unique. There will be no white dress. I have a strong aversion to Wagner, especially THAT wretched piece of music (have you ever heard the words? YUCK. The *real* words, not 'here comes the bride/fancy double-wide'.), and I'm not keen on the Mendelssohn, either. We will make some traditional choices so it will be unmistakably a wedding, and no one will be able to say "but they didn't REALLY get married, did they? That was all just a performance, right?" But a lot of the stuff that is really just fluff is getting a major facelift.


PowerSPILL.jpg, originally uploaded by sunspotting.

July 11, just before 1 pm. This is our 11 pound baby boy Mirth, inspecting his sister Bert's handiwork. Bert hopped on top of the fridge and sent a container of powdered PowerADE mix plunging to its spectacular end, as seen here. When I found Bert moments after the huge *POP*ssssqqkkkshhhh!!!!!!!! sound, she had the funniest "crap ---- did i do that and it looks like i should pretend i care pretty fast" look on her face. That made it all OK.

When Mirth investigates his sisters' messes, I never know if he's doing it with the same curiosity as a passerby viewing a car crash or an apprentice magician desperately trying to learn how to be a sneakier liar in front of an audience.

UPDATE 4: (hey-- newer news) Our 1st 50-miler!

Tacky Intruder.jpg, originally uploaded by sunspotting.

July 8. Patti's Paladins hit the road... and the road hits ME back.

This blurry little instigator is the reason my tire went flat. I was riding on my rim, it was that flat, that quick!!! I never want to forget how I was hung up on the side of the road by something as small as that! When we are on the road we are ever vulnerable. It is easy to remember to stay away from Hummers and Escalades and city busses, but these littlest objects are the things that will get us most often.

Eh, so I got a flat. In the face of all else that could have happened, not so bad, but it took up a bunch of time. Otherwise, it was a great ride. Rusty and Amanda were a gracious and generous water stop (better than water, Gatorade and oranges and trailmix! Thank you!!!) And Sam brought grapes.

It was surprising how cool the grapes stayed all day. They were so refreshing! And Sam whipped them out and shared them everytime we stopped. We ALL had some of Sam's grapes. (Wherever you are right now Sam, I know you're grinning!)

Mike Kechisen, Sam, and Mel came to the pit stop. I'm ashamed to say Rick and I were not prepared. We sure are lucky to have such good friends.

We barely had time for a double take

They're towing WHO?.jpg, originally uploaded by sunspotting.

They're towing WHO????

Look past the 2 doing the failed Abbey Road impression and you will see the Police Cruiser being towed!!! What the cameraphone failed to pick up was that there were 2 officers riding in the front of that cruiser AS IT WAS BEING TOWED. This is an area notorious for civilians' cars being towed. Instant Karma's gonna tow even YOU...

Witnessed July 6, 2006 at the corner of St. Clair and W. 6th. Not far at all from the Justice Center in friendly Downtown Cleveland.

UPDATE 3: Pictures That Go With Updates (STILL Old News)

Which WAY?

Which WAY?.jpg
Originally uploaded by sunspotting.

June 25, AWESOME training ride!!! Just 4 of us: Mel, Sam Bell, Rick, and me. From Gordon Park on the East Side of Cleveland (where MLK Blvd meets Lake Erie) to the Zoo and back. This picture was taken at our first pitstop, when Sam tried (unsuccessfully this time) to adjust Mel's seat. We both got our seats adjusted (great ribald jests rose from that, and other things...) (GREAT ride) during the course of this ride, and our lives improved dramatically.

In the meantime, I found the signage at this intersection a bit profound.

The Cleveland Metroparks Zoo (see sidebar to the right -- you might have to scroll way down -- but I have a link to our zoo because it is a place that inspires me). What a place for a turnaround. If we hadn't had other plans that afternoon, I'd've been all over staying for the rest of the day. I love this place. And as we were refilling water bottles, a docent came out of The Rainforest with a large and brightly colored parrot. Know what else I love about this place? This gorgeous display of leafy fan foliage is NOTHING on what is displayed within. That's right. It's not merely a ZOOlogical park, it's PHYTOlogical and HORTICULTUROlogical, too. They do not discriminate against lifeforms. The animals and plants (and the stuff in and on which they live) are inextricably interconnected: a lesson we should be mindful of daily.

Anyway, those good looking folk smiling for the cameraphone are Rick, Mel, and Sam, l2r. The plants didn't smile, but they did wave.

UPDATE 2: Pictures That Go With Updates (SOOO Old News)

On June 17 Patti's Paladins went for another training ride. Another. Another??? Why bother saying that? We do them every week. At least twice. Many people strike out on their own, as well they should, riding 75 miles 2 days in a row in the hot August humidity and sun and (s likely as not) pounding rain is hard work. You can't just get on a bike and say, "hey, this is a kid's toy. I can do this..." The road will bite you back, an dit will hurt.

So, yeah, we went for ANOTHER training ride. It was a good one. They always are. The company is fantastic, the scenery rocks, and we're getting a super workout. So here are some pictures.

Above shows (l2r) Mickey and Cathy Skowronsky, Christina Getrost, Mike and Lora Szloh, Rick Garcia, and Mel Getrost. In front of Mel is my bike with the growling dinosaur bike horn as my representative.

Above left is Mel, thinking. Or thinking about thinking. Or thinking she likes thinking. Or thinking she likes to ride her bike. Or thinking she'd like to be riding her bike. Or thinking "get this stinking cameraphone outta my face and let's go for a bike ride".

We were worried she might not be smiling in the group photo, so I took this remedial photo just to be sure there was no doubt that Melanie Getrost was definitely having fun on June 17, and we, in her presence, were having fun with and near her.

The photo that looks like it's just all random nature with no real purpose actually has a young white tail buck smack dab in the middle of it. You'll really have to squint to see him, he's that reddish brown smudge in the middle just above the brightest patch; trust me, he's there, pixellated and smudge-y or not. His antlers were still all fuzzy. He was so gorgeous. It's a pity he has to be at the pit of such controversy. Never mess with Nature and its delicate balances. Nature ALWAYS wins.

Nevermind, we were simply there to enjoy the day and train for the MS150. Mission accomplished, no flight suits needed.

UPDATE 1: Pictures That Go With Updates (I Know, This Is SOOO Old News)

Ok. Old news. On Sunday, June 11 Rick and I went to a Bridal Fair at Jacobs Field. Surprise, surprise, it was sorta kinda on a baseball theme. (I reiterate for the benefit of my future Mother In Law: NO, we will not have a baseball-themed wedding. Neither one of us is even a little bit tempted. Please continue breathing comfortably.) So here are some neat pictures.

This was sooooo cool. Sarah sent PopPop a BeeYoooTiFull masterpiece, which includes a footprint made with her own little foot!!! Very special. It went straight up on the refridgerator, as all grandpas should do with all gifts of artwork. Here is the precious artiste herself:

Word on the street is the Georgia branch of the family tree may be visiting this August. I really hope so. Can't get enough of seeing Sarah, and it sure is fun spending time with Matt and Marianne!! We all have our fingers crossed. Besides, Southerners NEED to come North in the summer. It's too durn hot for living down there in August... :-)