Friday, November 30, 2007


Ed bought me a cup of coffee today. We went to Gallup, just down the hill from the condo. The berry scone was wonderful and the manager went out to get the New York Times for us to read. Ed likes to take me out for coffee. And read the paper while I sip. Sometimes I stare into the distance, sometimes I read another section.

I stayed home to work. I took a break in mid-afternoon and walked over to Whole Foods to pick up foods for dinner. On the way back I encountered a neighbor. She was fitting pieces into a jigsaw puzzle. I helped, but only for a minute.

In the late afternoon I picked up a carpet – the one missing item in my condo. Perhaps other things are missing, but I don’t want to know. I don’t want to get too hell bent on acquiring. So, after lugging the carpet home, I proclaimed the condo furnishing project to be complete.

Later, much later, I ran into my next door neighbor. I hardly ever see him. Mostly, he accompanies his wife in her work in Richland Center. But today he was there and he was walking his dog and I remembered how much I loved dogs.
Cookin’ up a storm? – he asked, looking at my Whole Foods bags.
Comfort food, in anticipation of the weather tomorrow. Ingredients for spaghetti sauce.

In the evening, Ed came over. He never noticed the new carpet, but he ate the spaghetti and dozed on the couch and woke up only when I said it’s late.

Photos? No, not tonight.

Thursday, November 29, 2007


Iced-over. Solidly unbending. Stuck. Trapped. Cold. Shivering.

On the way to work, I passed this pretty little heap of ice. Wonderful. The beginning of the long season.

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Wednesday, November 28, 2007

nothing but rubbish

Everyone has days where they want to sit back and laugh (yes, laugh) at the fantastically perverse luck that comes their way. As you navigate the hours, there are any number of ways for you to step poorly. And hit the wrong button.

I hit many wrong buttons today.

And, I had too much work to make repairs.

The only photo that struck me as permissible on a day such as this (indeed, the only photo I took today) was one from the nearby construction project. Happy Holidays from the Hilldale Theater. In case you don’t know, the Hilldale Theater is buried in the rubble, right next to the sign.

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My day, in a nutshell. Buried. Best forgotten.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007


To photograph a day. (And write a subtext for it.) You can’t, really. There isn’t permission for it.

I was in class today and I had a guest speaker. And so I had a chance to watch the students. So photographable! But, of course, I ignored the impulse.

Much later, I spent time with my man Jason (in case you aren’t a steady Ocean reader, Jason is a hair color genius here in Madison). We talked photography. We always do these days. He is exceptionally talented with the camera. I cannot tell you how many times I thought right there, in his salon: this is a Kodak moment. Naturally, I did not act on it.

Much later, I drove to Whole Foods. I don’t like to use selling venues for my posts (markets are an exception), but on my way there I passed a gas station. With Christmas trees. There you have it: my post for the day. Because really, is there anything more beautiful than a parking lot or gas station with trees for sale? (And no one there to tell me to get lost?)

For Ocean then. Trees on concrete:

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Monday, November 26, 2007

returning home

I leave the D.C. apartment early. There will be airport crowds. There will be traffic. There will be chaos.

Or not.

I settle in for a long wait at the airport and work on my book.

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Upgraded on each segment of my trip, I tell myself that loyalty pays. In my travel, I have stayed with two airlines that had the worst performance records in the world (NW and AF). Now, they’re up and soaring. Together, no less (they’ve merged, via KLM). And I am loyally cheering them on.

Ed comes to the airport in his truck. I want to pick up a tree on the way home.

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A habit. It’s what I do in the week after Thanksgiving. And it is the week after Thanksgiving. One holiday season over and done with, another coming at us. No complaints there. Paucity of good cheer is way tougher on the psyche.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

from D.C.: patriotic

I’m not that, if patriotism means saying that your country is the best of the best. I don’t even know what that means. Good people, making good decisions? Until the moment when they mess up?

My father once said – I am a citizen of the world. I feel the same loyalty to the planet. And to the community that I live in, wherever that may be. I dislike nationalism (even though I respect tradition). I detest pronouncements of superiority, even as I believe some principles are superior to others.

So basically, I’m not one of those who goes around saying I am proud to be a Pole or an American, even though at times I am proud and at other times I am ashamed of what the governments in either have accomplished.

Still, here I am in D.C., and I haven’t confronted on Ocean the very essence of the city. I have yet to post a single photo of its uniqueness as a nation’s capital. Here, more than anywhere else, you see the progression of governance. The monuments force you into this exercise: think back and remember those who left their mark.

Tonight, I took my camera and strolled among the shadows of the monuments. I circled the Washington Monument, I acknowledged the Capitol. I paused for a longer while at the new to me Monument to World War II, I gave a nod to the Lincoln Memorial and I passed with a deep sigh in front of the White House.

I’m going to post some photos from all this. They nudged me toward giving more than a passing thought to citizenship, government and the country I now call home. Here you go: D.C. monuments, one November evening, through Ocean eyes.

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child's play

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at the end of the day

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November trees

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people, flags

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two cyclists, the Capitol

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Lincoln, ducks

Saturday, November 24, 2007

from D.C.: southern comfort

I am in the south. I think of it as such. Even though it’s really quite cold here today, in my mind D.C. is bringing up the south.

We ate breakfast foods at our favorite local place. And I had what I would never have back home – poached eggs on muffins and fried green tomatoes, with a splash of tomato hollandaise. And a huge side of cheese grits.

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And then we traveled more south. Of the border. To the quiet of Virginia. And the pretty streets of Alexandria.

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But it was cold. We headed toward Misha's for coffee. It's a place where you can read and take in a steaming sip of a brew, with bites of pound cake. And chocolate chips. Or carrot cake. He's eating carrot cake.

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A walk down to the Potomac, then up King again, to catch a ride back to D.C..

Looking out, we watched the full moon come out from under cloud cover, right over the Capitol. Not a good enough photo for Ocean, but something worth mentioning nonetheless: this city is elusive to me. Like the Eiffel Tower in Paris, or the moon on a foggy night, monuments appear and disappear as I move from one set of blocks to the next. People, too. Tagged, always tagged with I.D. cards, they move quickly. In and out of buildings. Nothing is out in the open. It is a city of secrets. Of Pentagon and FBI and Supreme Court private discussions. Of the everyday lives being hugely touched by what goes on behind closed doors. Soldiers on the metro. A man sweeping a gutter in Georgetown. Another shouting to the bus that refuses to come at a stop on 14th street.

An ambulance screams across M street. And another. Visitors, like in Paris, there are always visitors. Asking for directions, for places to eat, for bars to drink in. Could you tell me?... Could I? Do I know this town well enough to pass judgment? It’s getting to the point that I do.

Friday, November 23, 2007

from D.C.: the day after

I heard stores opened at 4 (that would be ante meridiem) today. Impressive.

Myself, I preferred to stay indoors, listening to the hum of morning traffic as one daughter prepared to go to work and the other – moved about this way and that.

Feeling insanely stuffed, I did the rare thing – I passed on breakfast, coffee, the whole thing. The couch seemed like a fine alternative. Listening, enjoying the buzz that was/is outside my own head.

By noon, we set out in search of food. Tryst was perfect for the afternoon after. Packed, with a humming crowd. Of diners, lovers, Net surfers, you name it.

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Feeling deprived (of breakfast, not food), I ordered this:

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Why do I mention it? Because it was a guiltless pleasure. There, in a room of people who seemed hugely comfortable with... life. That called for a large waffle, don't you think?

I took a long walk afterwards. Everyone at home was working, but I chose not to. Down 15th, 16th, 17th, Conn, Mass, P, O, N, finally onto M and across the bridge, where I became like so many others – a shopper, briefly, just like those around me, pulling out the old plastic card and walking away with a paper bag.

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We all think we are such nonconformists.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

from D.C.: food

Why do we like to eat so much? Oh life. Such meaning in the preparation of food, in the serving of it --- here, have some.

What great fortune when you are able to say this as you place food on the table. With love.

When I worked in the kitchens of a restaurant several years back I thought this was the missing link – the act of placing the food on the table and stepping back to watch the enjoyment of someone you would want to make happy with your preparations.

On Thanksgiving and on all days that you are able to cook for someone it all works: grow or purchase, prepare, serve, share. (And hope that someone helps with the clean up).

Apron’s off. Hands are stiff. Day is done.

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Wednesday, November 21, 2007

from Washington D.C.: holiday travel

I know that news stories about people traveling around the holidays are supposed to project a mild (or even huge) feeling of misery liking company, a ‘we’re in this ship together’ moment where everyone is stalled, cancelled, or otherwise inconvenienced.

In the alternative, there are those who are inclined toward the sentimental. They read NYT or CNN (or whatever) accounts of millions traveling over the holiday and they mist up.

I find it charming – the idea that millions are heading toward a Thursday table. And that for millions there will be turkey meat and mashed potatoes on that table. (I asked in my law classes how many would be eating turkey – more than 90%; and mashed potatoes? 100% in the larger class.)

Last night the Midwest was shrouded in mists and drizzle and flights left but barely barely and it was close to midnight before I saw my suitcase (filled with pots and wooden spoons) emerge. I was one of the last to see mine rolling down. Patiently we waited. The final handful, in the end -- relieved.

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Today we ate non-holiday foods for lunch. Tofu and vegetables and iced tea in a Tea Shoppe off of Dupont. Yes, do note the iced tea – a beverage of summer, a cool-down drink. It’s warm in D.C. now.

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I brought with me old familiar recipes, standards. We shopped for ingredients, filling a cart and then some. My daughter and I lifted the cart and considered how much of its weight would make it to our stomach.

Outside, a guy was selling flowers – filling in for his brother who was taking a few days off. Each holiday has its colors. These are tomorrow's. (A phone call home: hey, do we need flowers?)

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I considered standing around, chatting up the flower guy. He seemed inclined. But I got sidetracked by Cliff "the Moose" who was handing out/selling Street Sense. He liked my camera, but he liked his own better. Nikon this and that, with Zeiss lenses.
$6000 worth of equipment. Nice, considering I am homeless.
Where do you keep it all?
Locked up!

He showed me his photos. Good stuff.

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On the roof of my daughter’s apartment building, there is a little terrace from which you can watch the sun set. And planes land. With people, coming home for Thanksgiving.

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Tuesday, November 20, 2007

looking up

Up early. Lecture notes to finish. Outside my condo windows, wisps of pink. A November sunrise.

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Looking up today. After classes, a quick espresso, the airport, and flights east. For Thanksgiving.

Monday, November 19, 2007


A day, anyone’s day can be described thus. There’s work to be done, but first, one must clear away the rubble.

So that’s what they’re doing outside my condo tower (visible to the right in the photo). Heaping twisted metal and slabs of concrete. To be carted away.

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A working day.

Tomorrow evening I take off for the holiday. With a suitcase full of pots, pans and wooden spoons. Might the rubble be all gone by the time I come back next week?Doubt it. Stuff like that takes time to clear.

Sunday, November 18, 2007


…animals and people change. A cat knocks on the door of Ed’s sheepshed. He is given food. He never leaves. But he lives in fear. Of everything. He is a difficult adoptee. He marks everything new and suspicious looking for months. Years even. When I visit, I cover my belongings under heavy plastic. In case.

That was before. Now, the cat comes up to me. Tentatively. He has the demeanor of someone who wants to engage you but wont let on. He gives a furtive look and if I reach out very quietly, slowly, he’ll relax and accept a rub on his cheek.

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…you assume hostility where there is none. The cat appears indifferent to birds. He’s a mouser – Ed tells me. He walks with a nose to the ground.

You’d have a hard time convincing the robins today. The appearance of the cat makes them fly to higher branches. In truth, the appearance of me makes them fly to higher branches too.

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…you assume that things people do cannot hurt you when, in fact, they can. Birds and cats move across their respective terrain, oblivious to the men in orange, with guns.

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Wear orange vests! – I tell the cat and the birds. Unfortunately, the robin is hell bent on a shade of red. And the cat? At least he doesn’t look like a deer.

Have I neglected anyone? Oh, oops:

…animals and men get so comfortable in their spaces that they have a hard time accepting other spaces. Two examples: one in his perfect corner, the other, comfortably positioned with his butt on a warm laptop.

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Me, I just sit and watch and try to get some work done in a small corner of the sheepshed.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

fact is…

...that people are as they are and seasons have elements of dreariness and you have to move beyond that or you become like so many who, in their later years, are just plain bitter about it all. Especially the seasons.

Ed and I head to the orchard. These are the last weeks, maybe days, when you can still pick up a huge sack of honeycrisps. I want that sack. I want honeycrisps to stay in my fridge for the tough days of winter. The name is warm and comforting.

Still, it’s wet outside. November wet. Cold wet. Gray, sad wet.

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At the orchard shack where picked apples used to be in abundance, the shelves are nearly empty. We get our bagfuls and stroll out toward the rows of trees. And horses. It’s raining and the horses are looking like they need …something. A bath maybe? What do I know about horses. I used to ride them. I don’t anymore.

Ed and horses nuzzle in animal camaraderie.

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I take my work to Ed’s sheepshed. I need to scramble now. The semester is near an end. It is an intensely busy period: I start writing exams, I plan next semester’s classes, I work on the remaining lectures for the Fall. The sheepshed offers no distractions. There is a chair for me to sit in. A comfortable chair and that's it. Ed works on a crankshaft. I think about my classes. I play my small stack of CDs – stuff that helps me stay on task.

Are we playing the same CD over and over?
No, I’m just in a mellow female jazz vocalist mode.

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Outside, the drizzle continues. But really, it’s not that bad. No, it’s not that bad. November, all of it. There’s beauty in gray and mangy horses, and imperfect situations and November months that turn into warm moments in spite of the drizzle.

Friday, November 16, 2007

at the end of the day

At the end of the day, I drive to Ed’s place. A dozen minutes from city center, it has the feel of deep country, just as he likes it. I like it to an extent. For instance, the farmers – I am forever mesmerized by the work of the Hmong family that has been farming next to his land this year. Today, they made the final rounds. Flurries this evening. Frost. Last pickings.

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The school bus drops children off. A cluster of girls. The solo boy trails behind. Not city children, not suburban either. Stuck in a strip of countryside that attempts to remain rural. By a hair’s wisp.

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Ed’s shed is as he likes it. Cats pace, waiting for a feeding. I pace too. I think how different he and I are. And I don’t mean at the level of lifestyles. Sometimes our differences are adventurously challenging, in a good way. Sometimes.

I want to go for a walk. A quick one. Before the sun disappears.

We head toward the old railway tracks. Abandoned and overgrown. Who do they belong to? The sign says C.&N.W.R.R.

They considered making this a rail corridor, linking Madison with Oregon and beyond. But it was voted down.

The tracks look irreparable. For rail. Maybe a future bike path? (The Badger State trail comes to mind). But, you cannot walk far now. Private property. Whose?

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The remains of a farmland sunset. Tinted sky, splashes of light and then dusk.

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I drive back to my warm kitchen in the condo, where irises and lilies are blooming and Stacey Kent is singing about the ice hotel.

Thursday, November 15, 2007


Not too long ago, when still in Poland, I looked upon Americans as being wedded to the idea of rugged individualism. You did it on your own. You rose, you fell, you conquered, you succumbed, but importantly, you asked for help from no one.

I never bought into the idea fully. Bootstraps – great myth. But in my young mind, most (not everyone; most) were strapped to the success of another (a relative? a partner?), not to their own boots at all.

Of course, one could accuse my own (Polish) country men and women as being too stuck on anti-individualism. So much so that, given recent democracy, you could hardly get a Pole to the polls at election time. Why should I vote? An individual vote hardly matters. Campaigns were levied against that mindset in the last election. Your vote counts! Move your individual ass to the polls, already. Collective action? Oh, give it a rest.

Could we compromise and put in a vote for, maybe, partnerships?

A comment showed up on my post on the Badger State Trail. (I’ve become somewhat obsessed with the Trail: it’s a microcosm of the world out there! Life! Replayed on the BST!) It goes like this (pardon me for not editing out the niceties. I am not above niceties):

Very nice photo essay. You've really captured the beauty of the trail. It's a shame that the Badger Trail will probably be converted into an ATV freeway in the near future, seeing as how the Friends of the Badger Trail is staffed almost exclusively by members of the Wisconsin ATV Association. You CAN do something about this by attending the November 27 annual meeting of the Friends of the Badger Trail, 7:00 PM at Belleville High School, join FOBT and VOTE in the elections that evening. I can assure you that the ATV lobby will be there to vote.

The collective action mindset in me stirred. By God, let’s all show up there and give them a run for their vote, those ATV-ers! I was on that trail. I saw the damage mechanical devices did to the bridges over creeks and rivers! And, perhaps more importantly, I reveled in the quiet of the trail. The only reason you do not see photos of birds here, of the deer that crossed my path, of the frogs that croaked their way across is because they, the creatures of the wild, were faster than me.

[A conversation with Ed:
Can you ride behind me so that you do not spook the animals that I may want to photograph?
I think by the time you reach for your camera, turn it on, focus, curse it for not responding, focus and press and finally fire, the animals will have retired onto another planet

Join me and we'll be FOBT members for life! Partners! And come to Belleville on November 27th (don't bike down -- too cold)! I’ll treat to you to a pancake and a cup of tea at Bleoni’s, okay?

[I would post a photo from the trail, but that would be cheating as all my photos are from the day of the post. So here's, partnership today. From my dining table, one not more beautiful than the other and both made more beautiful as a result of… you guessed it, partnership:]

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Wednesday, November 14, 2007

seeing red

I first knew of these words ('seeing red') as indicating communist inclinations. And if you do a search, you’ll find others documenting this interpretation as well.*

But later, I heard it more as expressing anger. I remember someone speculating that the expression may have come from the fierce attitude a bull has toward this color.

Today, I’m more in line with the second interpretation (though the first is probably closer to the true one).

Blood boiling – that’s my image at the moment, even though blood is, well, blue.

I'm not used to seeing red these days. Calm, in my opinion, has supreme value. And so looking for calming devices becomes a daylong project.

A nice note from a DNR rep was a nice distraction [re: the Ocean post below on the Badger State Trail. And by the way, I now consider it my mission to publicize the trail. Because they’re missing a crucial link into Madison, damn it, and need support to get it done! Oh, knock that ‘damn it’ out. That’s too red. But do click on the DNR link that I subsequently included in the post -- it gives you directions and you need directions, because it starts south of Fitchburg and Fitchburg is exasperatingly, infuriatingly sprawly. Okay, okay...]. Calming notes. Let me think. Ah: George’s comment to the post below. So good for the soul. And I can't forget the chatty phone calls from loved ones. Pure tranquility and peace.

And walking home, I made sure to look at red not as fire and rage, but as something beautiful, with style,

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...or good eating possibilites at home.

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So there.

* Here’s one:
The phrase "seeing red" is from none other than former Attorney General A. Mitchell Palmer of the infamous
Palmer Raids.

When Attorney General A. Mitchell Palmer, in late 1919, submitted to the Senate
a lengthy report on the Investigation Activities of the Department of Justice,
he warned that America stood at Armageddon: Bolshevists, anarchists, and
seditionists were besieging the nation. As part of their diabolical plans,
"practically all of the radical radical organizations in this country have
looked upon the Negroes as particularly fertile ground for the spreading of
their doctrines. These radical organizations have endeavored to enlist the
Negroes on their side, and in many respects have been successful." As a
consequence, "the Negro is seeing red." (Kornweibel,
Seeing red:
federal campaigns against Black militancy, 1919-1925
, xiv)

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

the fleeting and the solid

A leaf lands on the window sill. I am in my office. I reach for the camera, I take one picture, push the camera away and continue to stare out on Bascom Mall.

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Phone rings. Someone needs a referral. Custody dispute. I give them several names.

And I continue to stare.

An email. Someone wants me to review a contract of employment. I look at it. Puerto Rico? You are moving to Puerto Rico? With your partner? Wow.

In a few minutes I will pick up the phone and intrude on the lives of people who I am concerned about but I dare not disturb too frequently.

Soon I will head home. I’ll think about the idea of caring for another – when it ends, if it ends, or if it continues forever. (It does, if you want it to.)

Good-night, rock solid heroes of mine out there on the sill: Japanese owl, Polish sparrow, Florentine goose. And others...

In the alternative (if your disposition leads you to prefer the fleeting), does it last from one day to another, and does it disappear as elusively as the leaf that lands on your sill one minute and the next minute is gone?

Monday, November 12, 2007

two sunsets, many mommies

I drove out to the country this evening to return Ed his car (don’t ask; pretend I like occasionally driving a red '93 Geo with pink peeling stripes). Twice I stopped to take a photo of the sun, receding over the Wisconsin countryside. You could not ask for different results. Same sunset, different images.

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It’s often like that, isn’t it? Something appears one way and then, two paces later, it looks quite different.

Onto a different topic: I have many mommies! They pop up in the comments section of Ocean and they remind me to wash my hands and wipe my nose before sitting down to dinner. Or some such encouragements.

If only mothers the world over would have daughters who ate their veggies and attended to their physical health as diligently as I do!

Relax, mommies. I twirl and spin the details of a ride, but really, I do take good care of myself. Last week, my doc asked me if I train for the triathlon because I appear so…fit.

[A small btw, Bascom Mall was full of these today:]

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Small risks, impulsive forays – I admit to both. My real mommy has used the term "irresponsible" to cast doubt on what I do more than once. But give me a break! I attend to my work and I clean my house and pay my bills on time.

And when I believe a bullet has more than a one in a million chance of passing near me, I promise, I’ll wear an orange vest.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

hitting the trails

It seems that one ought not slow down in life unless there’s a good reason for it.

Ed and I have taken on traveling adventures, etc., for over two years now. Sometimes, I think we’re slowing down. I tell him this, but it hardly matters. The man moves with whatever rhythms guide him at the moment. You cannot argue long term trends.

Still, earlier in the week I suggested that I'm happy to consider another Wisconsin adventure. (Yes, I said it. Wisconsin. I love my surroundings.)

You’d be cold. I believe he thinks I'm getting soft.
I’ll buy warm gloves.

And I do. I spend huge sums for windproof gloves from North Face.
Ed’s response: you’ll be cold.

Nonetheless, on Saturday morning we set out on a biking week-end. The plan is to find the Badger State Trail just south of Fitchburg (they're working on getting the funding to link it all the way to Madison) and follow it south to the Sugar River Trail, which, in turn, will take us all the way to the town of Brodhead. Ed knows I like the old rail beds-turned bike trails. The surface is rough, but the inclines are gentle.

It is, well, cold. Biting wind. Don’t like to slow down. Must keep warm. But the trail is so pretty!

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It makes its way past the backsides of grainaries and villages. Large graneries and really tiny villages.

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On the nineteenth mile, we stop. We’re in Belleville.

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Significant fact about Belville: it has an open coffee shop. More of a diner, really. We order pancakes.

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Rib-sticking food, Ed says.
I picture the pancake warming my bones inside, like a layer of insulation. I drink endless cups of tea.

I add a sweatshirt to my layers. And felt handmade earmuffs. Much better. Ed, on the other hand, is in shorts. His legs look a beet red to me. Verging on a deep shade of grape purple…

The path is empty of bikers. One. We pass one, the entire day. But we do encounter the occasional hiker. In orange.
Are they wearing orange so that hunters will see them?
Should we be wearing orange?

Ed looks me over: you do look like a deer. Brown, prancing along…
Should we be scared?

As if on command, we hear gunfire. Repeatedly. Continuously. From Belleville all the way to Albany.

Still, it is so fresh and lovely here! Who would believe that November could be strikingly beautiful?

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Beauty is fleeting.
We are approaching a tunnel.
No, we are not going to enter this cave of nothingness without a light! Je refuse!

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Ed, did you know about this tunnel? I don’t handle dark, closed-in spaces well.
I read somewhere a flashlight is needed…
My headlight isn’t working!
(Famous shrug.) It’s just a tunnel.

Ed bikes forward. My options? I have no options. I follow. Very tentatively. With many many repetitions of 'I cannot' and 'I will not,' interspersed with moans. For emphasis.

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Within a few feet we are in total blackness. We get off our bikes and step forward. Slowly. Intense silence. A cry of a bat, nothing more. I close my eyes, open them – there is no difference.

Of course, there is always light. Eventually, you turn a corner and you see it – you are not buried yet, you are raised from the pitch blackness of the earth. Another chance!

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I had a flashlight... Didn’t think I should dig for it.
Oh Ed.

We pass the Sugar River and pick up the Sugar River trail.

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Old bridges, new bridges, elevated byways, once meant for trains, now pedaled over by determined bikers.

Why aren’t there any cyclists though?
Too flat for serious cyclists, too cold for the recreational bicyclist.

Where does that put me?

A hunter of the bow and arrow kind comes towards us. I am grateful that no animal is draped around his shoulders. No little bambi nor her mother.

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A minute later a van comes after us. With lights. Of the official type.

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We are busted! Ed says.
I paid. I have a permit. I’m not spending a night in jail.
The DNR official looks mine over, writes in various details I had left blank (color of hair, weight).
Can hunters shoot on the trail?
Yes, they can. It’s a recreational trail.
Can they shoot at me?
You should definitely give us a call if you see arrows whizzing by.
Do I look like a deer, do you think?

He doesn’t crack a smile.

Nor does he charge Ed a penalty for forgetting to pick up a permit. This is so typical: money runs away from me and it clings to people like Ed. So that he can laugh in its face and walk away. Sigh…

The DNR official retreats. Remember, call 911 if you have problems. They’ll get in touch with us.

Such comfort.

But we do not encounter problems. Just hunters.

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And utter loveliness.

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Remarkably, we pull into Brodhead before dark. After a mere 47.5 miles of roads and trails. Child's play. Except my limbs no longer feel like a chuild's limbs.

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Our b&b (Earth Rider) is supremely nice. Tasteful, uncluttered, right on the town square, over a bike shop.

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Rooms with a Tour de France motif.

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An early dinner – hearty manicotti – and by 6, Ed is out solid. I struggle for four hours to stay awake to do a post. Four hours of fighting sleep, only to give up in the end.

Sunday morning. The skies are gray. We're facing the trails again. And a tunnel. Big difference: the flashlight stays in my hand.

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And at the end, a bowl of soup. Burning hot.

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