Biomass

It’s Saturday. That has, for many years, meant that I go for a big bike ride. But with the return of my virus and taking Thursday and Friday off this week again, I decided to skip the big ride. I tried going out by myself, but after a couple hours just felt tired and gross and it was clearly time to go home to rest.

Which I did, for several hours.

After which, this happened.

Before:
Assault the Jungle: Start
Benji rightly dubbed it “The Jungle,” an area on the side of the house (the opposite side from the Meadow of Goodness, in case you’re wondering) harboring weeds taller than myself, plus a density of weed undergrowth that cannot be overstated. I shudder to think of all the creatures living in there, too.

Originally I cleared this area and planted it with some wildflower seeds, just to see what would come up. What I got was a 10:1 weed:wildflower ratio — no fault of the seed packet, I’m sure; I simply didn’t go out and combat the weeds at all.

Silly me.

Now, after a couple years, the Jungle harbors this pernicious vine that keeps trying to take over our yard; I don’t know what it is [EDIT TO ADD: It is birdsfoot trefoil, Lotus corniculatus, apparently a good and useful fodder for various animals in pastures, but NOT IN MY YARD], but it has these yellow flowers that grow in clumps, and clumps of five leaves and then a big gap. It alone comprises probably 50% of the biomass in The Jungle. I’ve been slowly trying to get rid of it every time I find it in my yard, but it’s everywhere and it grows through the ground and then pops up, making it incredibly difficult to remove. I can’t truly eliminate it, at least not at this time; there’s too much, and I can’t get down to pull every root when it’s literally filling the side yard to a height of 4 feet everywhere as it grows on top of all the other plants and itself.

No, this was a quick and dirty assault to yank out anything anywhere near or involved with the yellow vine, along with the vine itself. The yard waste bin started out empty, so I decided to just go until it was full.

Assault the Jungle: The End

This took about an hour and a half, during which time I probably inhaled a week’s worth of pollen (sorry, immune system!) and got covered with a full body velcroing of burrs.

I also discovered a day lily, which has these lovely deep red and orange flowers, and several very nice ferns of a couple different varieties. I’m guessing those will all be happier not to be covered in yellow flower vines.

Assault the Jungle: The Jungle Fights Back
Those are my gloves after I stopped, but I had been picking burrs off at regular intervals, so that’s not the total accumulated amount. Next time I’m going in with jeans, long sleeves tucked in, and a face mask. Seriously.

I don’t know when I’ll get back to finish the assault, but still more of that darn vine remains. I will not rest until it’s eradicated from my yard! …OK, I will rest, but I will also keep pulling vines now and again.

Joke Board

One of the things I’ve been doing at work, besides working, is running the Joke Board. This started out as a totally random thing: We had a small white board, and it tended to be propped up in a high-traffic area in our section. We would sometimes use it to share food with a note like “Please enjoy these homemade cookies!” Like this:
Joke Board: Lemon Bars

One day I had a joke that I thought was funny, so I wrote it on the white board to share with people walking by. Several people, walking by, read it and chuckled, or at least shook their heads as they walked away. I started writing jokes up on the board every few days, maybe two or three jokes a week.
Joke Board: Tearable

I’ve been doing this for several months, and people like it. I know because occasionally with a really good joke, I’d see people taking pictures with their phones, presumably to share with friends. Sometimes people would write up an alternative answer if they came up with a good one, or leave other comments (one time someone gave a +1 to an answer, an amusingly analog version of a digital kudos). A few times other people have even put up their own jokes:

What do you call a bear that’s gotten stuck in the rain? A drizzly bear. OR, alternative answer offered: A drown bear.
Why are there no knock knock jokes about America? Because freedom rings.

Several people have told me that they bring the jokes home and share them with family members. I know that I inflict these jokes on my biking buddies, eliciting many groans of dismay (but I know it’s happy dismay). At least two people have told me they specifically walk by every day to check the joke board for the next joke. And of course at work I see many people pause, read the joke, and walk away shaking their heads–the ultimate sign of a successful joke.

All my jokes are either puns or dad jokes. There’s not enough room to write an elaborate joke; they really have to be one-liners or a question and answer. Thanks to the Internet, I have ample jokes to keep the board going, but I now have more pressure than ever to find good jokes!

So we were humming along happily for a while, and the joke board was getting its own following.

Then, oh no! A new guy got hired and chose to sit in the empty spot occupied by the Joke Board. But when God closes a door, He opens a window (or so I’ve heard), so I took the opportunity to have the Joke Board officially hung up on the wall near our area.
Joke Board is hung up

Joke Board: Chicken coop
By the way, getting the board hung up was no joke. I had to contact our receptionist and I asked him to put in a work order with the building management company. They sent a handyman with his little cart of hooks and screws and a level, and this guy hung it up. Alas, he hung it slightly off-center from where we asked, but oh well, now it’s up and it’s official!

I was out sick for a couple days last week, and when I got back there was a new joke up. One of my team members had written a new one, and they told me that they’d even had another joke up in the interim, which elicited several participatory alternative punchlines.

Here’s today’s joke board, which I got so many laughs from–first the pun itself, and then at least half a dozen times watching other people read and react to the pun. It’s truly priceless.
Joke Board: Dyed a little inside

I’m about to do my six-month employee assessment. One of the questions is: “What are some of your accomplishments from the last 6 months?” I’m absolutely putting the joke board in that list.

Some Summery Somethings

On the laundry line, one of the things was a little out of place…
What's Different Here...

Playing with water in the yard, we’ve a real dearth of offensive weapons. Actually we just have the one, the hose. So one person gets the hose and the other people…. get really wet. I cogitated on this problem, looked around the back yard, and literally with a little duct tape, the water table lid, and some PVC pipe, came up with some defense: The water shield.
Water Shield: Construction

Water Shield: Modeling

Which works well enough to let the user get close to the hose-sprayer and dump a bucket of water on the sprayer, although ultimately everyone gets wet, which is, of course, the whole point.

Water Shield: In Action

Architects, Eat Your Heart Out

Today is Saturday. I am still too sick to do a bike ride, but with the assistance of a heavy dose of ibuprofen, I’m feeling well enough to do some low-level stuff with Benji.

Such as the 45-minute architectural wonder we call the Rainbow Castle.

First we built the castle. Benji said, “It needs a strong foundation to hold the rest up.” Good call! He remembered that from a Veggie Tales video (!). I didn’t take any pictures until the main tower was built.
Rainbow Castle 1

Then we decided to build a wall and a moat.
Rainbow Castle 2

We finished that and then added some rainbow blocks around the wall, because rainbow.
Rainbow Castle 4

Rainbow Castle 5

Then we took Benji’s $31 dollars he saved up from his allowance for many months and went to Snapdoodle. There Benji made some really good optimizing choices. He found a two $10 Lego sets and determined that he could still buy a stuffed animal that was $10 or less. So he found one $8 stuffed dolphin, and bought all three things for $30.77 with tax. Talk about getting the most out of your money!
Allowance Booty

Chelan Century 2017

A couple weeks ago, Dad and I rode the Chelan Century. Several of our friends have spoken glowingly about it, with special emphasis on the grueling 5-mile climb called McNeil Canyon, so this year I decided to give the ride a shot and I dragged Dad along, because if I’m going to suffer, he might as well too. We do our suffering together, darn it!

Anyway, the reason it took us so long to get around to doing this ride is because we both had to take time off work to drive over there the night before. It’s in Chelan, which, with good traffic takes about 3 hours to drive from my house. With real traffic, however, we’re looking at 3.5 to 4 hours, or on Sunday afternoon, up to 7 or 8 hours. So basically you have to stay at least one night, the night before the ride; and you might want to stay the night after the ride, if you’re totally pooped.

We learned quickly that reserving rooms in January for a late-June ride wasn’t on the ball enough. We ended up paying over $300 a night, with a two-night minimum, since it’s also the peak of the season, even though we weren’t sure we wanted to stay two nights. And the room we got was one bed with a fold-out hide-a-bed (I can attest to the inadequacy of the mattress in that department–or at least all my bruises can!), right on the water–theoretically wonderful, but not actually ideal for sleeping while everyone else was up playing in the late sunshine.

In any case, we drove over to Chelan and arrived late afternoon, and it was beautiful.

Chelan - Afternoon View

We got our numbers and free swag (coffee, which I brought to work and left in the kitchen, and which vanished almost instantly) at the Chamber of Commerce.
Chelan - No Cleats

I bought a couple things (a ton of ear plugs, since I forgot mine and they don’t come in small numbers, and a book for Benji) and then we went to dinner with our biking buddy John and his family at this restaurant that had really beautiful views.
Chelan - Restaurant View 1

Chelan - Restaurant View 2

The beautiful views theme continued in the evening and the next morning before we left.
Chelan - Evening View

Chelan - Morning View

Early in the ride Dad got a flat tire, but he got it changed quickly and we got more nice views while we waited.
Chelan - Ride View 1

So we rode along and I was really careful about pacing myself, because I knew this big climb was coming about halfway through the ride. It also was getting warmer and warmer, so Dad and I both made sure to drink a ton. We rode with our biking buddy John Jester, who has gotten super strong this year but still patiently waits for us at the top and bottom of hills.

It was a relief to finally get to McNeil and ride that big hill, because at least then it was done!
Chelan - Top of McNeil Canyon
I had kind of hoped to get the fastest time on that climb, either of women on that ride or of all time; but neither happened. I was satisfied with my effort — about 51 minutes — and that’s good enough. Some time I may want to go out and ride around there on my own, and try to hit that hill harder and faster, but for a mid-century ride where I had to save my legs for another 50 miles and 4,000 feet of climbing, it was decent.

The ride was split into three loops, each 35 to 40 miles long, each starting and ending at a park in downtown Chelan. This works OK, and I was fine with coming back to the cooler area around the lake each time.
Chelan - End of Loop 2
That’s John’s red bike. He likes red vehicles.

So then it was another 30-odd miles, and the temperature kept going up, until I saw 102 F on my bike computer (John’s said 99.8, but I’m going with mine). It felt like getting cooked. I was really very ready to be done; John rode away from us at the end but Dad and I stayed together and slogged through the last 10 or 15 miles, drinking a ton of water and stopping at every water stop along the way. It was HOT, and the pleasant mid-70s temperatures on our previous rides hadn’t prepared us for being SO DARN HOT.

We finished: 102 miles and about 9500′ of climbing. There were two bonus climbs that we skipped, thank goodness; I don’t know that my legs had another 1000′ of climbing in them. This is us together at the end: John on the left, me, and Dad. It’s a representative, if not overly flattering, photo of how it felt at the end of the ride.
Chelan - Finished!

Chelan Stuff

Dad and I showered and rested in our room, but ended up deciding to drive back home that night. So we did. It took, as anticipated, about 3.5 hours, after which I really didn’t want to drive anymore.

Would I Do It Again?

There were some great aspects to the ride. I liked riding somewhere new, with roads I haven’t seen a zillion times. I liked the seriously long climbs that take more than 5 or 10 minutes to get up. I liked the views and the lack of traffic and stoplights. I liked the support, which was phenomenal.

But.

The ride was expensive, not only in money (although if you add up the registration fee, all the driving-related expenses, the food [no free food at the end! I had to pay $5 for a sandwich!], the room, etc., it would certainly come out as one of the spendiest of my recent rides) but in time and in family resources. While I was gone, Ian spent all Friday evening and all of Saturday with Benji.  I had to take time off work. I was away from my family for an overnight, just doing a play thing.

The ride also felt brutal in a way that I didn’t enjoy. I like hard rides–very hard ones. RAMROD isn’t for wimps, nor is Passport2Pain, and yet I’ve done the former twice and the latter three times (and I’m signed up for a fourth). But between the extreme amount of climbing–nearly as much as RAMROD–and the extreme temperature, it just felt deeply miserable by the end. I guess what I’m saying is that it felt extreme for no particular reason, whereas something like RAMROD has a fabulous reason: Mt. Rainier. Or P2P: Get passport stamps, see beautiful views.

This, by the way, is why something like the Death Ride doesn’t appeal to me at all. I’m not interested in doing rides where people regularly die; I just want to push myself and have fun.

It’s also difficult to be well trained for a ride with almost 10,000 feet of climbing by the end of June, when serious ride training doesn’t start until March or April. This year it was later than that, with all the terrible weather we had. That’s really my issue, not theirs, of course.

Anyway, overall, I am very glad I did the ride. However, I don’t think I will feel a need to add this to my (very short) list of annual rides.

Love, for Preschoolers

The other day I was reading 1 Corinthians 13 for my Bible study. I realized this could work really well from a preschooler’s perspective, so I decided to write it. If you haven’t read 1 Corinthians 13, read it here first so you know why this parody is amusing. (I also referred to this alternative, more literal, translation.)

Without further ado, here’s the famous chapter on love, from a preschooler’s perspective.

THE WAY OF LOVE

If I always use please and thank you, but don’t love, I might as well be throwing a tantrum.

If I can explain and understand feelings so I always think of others first, and if I am willing to share even my most precious toy, but I don’t love, I’m nothing.

If I give all my fishy crackers to kids who are hungry and even don’t complain when I get a consequence for something I didn’t do, but I don’t love, I’ve gotten nowhere. No matter how well I use my words, how often I put others first, or who I play nicely with, it’s all pointless without love.

Loves tries its best to do its best.
Love shares.
Love doesn’t whine for candy at the store.
Love doesn’t boast about how it’s the best,
Doesn’t yell to get attention,
Doesn’t demand the first turn,
Doesn’t get frustrated and throw things,
Doesn’t remember when things weren’t fair,
Doesn’t laugh when other kids get owwies,
Enjoys telling true things,
Tolerates playing with littler kids,
Trusts that Mommy and Daddy will come back,
Keeps looking forward to free play
Even while sitting still and listening at circle time.

Love gives it two good tries. Schedules and plans will finish; play-doh will dry out; grownups will run out of explanations. Right now you can read a few words, but the words you can read don’t tell the whole story. But when you learn to read all the way, you’ll be able to understand chapter books.

When you were a little baby, you couldn’t read and follow Lego instructions to build cool vehicles; you just wanted to eat the little pieces. When you got bigger, you quit trying to eat the pieces and built vehicles from your imagination.

Now it’s like a bad computer phone call, with pixels instead of faces. But it won’t be long before we can actually be in person. We’ll see not only our family’s faces, but be able to get hugs and kisses and play with them.

But for right now, until then, we have three things to help us be more kind and patient: Playing, snacking, and napping. And the best of the three is napping.