Tuesday, May 31, 2011
Thursday, May 26, 2011
THE LULU CHRONICLES
LuLu-ism # 14: Waiting is for the birds… and apparently Deb Cleveland.
Perhaps I should I have bought a golf cart instead of a bicycle. At least, it would have a top on it to protect me somewhat against the elements. And believe me there are elements galore right now. Yesterday, it rained all day, didn’t get much above fifty degrees and the wind was strong enough to could blow the hair off your arms. Today, not much better. So what’s a girl to do when she has this awesome bike waiting for her out in the garage? Her shiny new basket is just waiting for Murphy to hop aboard. Her white-walled tires are itching to hit the road. She wants to get out there and flaunt all of her ‘pinkness’ like a runway queen. And her bike seat is just waiting there perched at the ready taunting my cowgirl to hop on and see if she can conquer the saddle like a bull rider at a rodeo.
But alas, no can do. Our weather seems to be stuck in this ‘spring from Hades’ mode allowing neither man nor beast the pleasure of the tiptoeing through the tulip experience. So what can I do? I long. I drool in anticipation of a warm day. I walked around LuLu like a man on a car lot eyeing the red Corvette. I kick her tires (gently of course). I run my hand over her pink fenders. I play with her gears. And, I wait.
Waiting isn’t easy for me. I’m a ‘right now kind of gal’. I see things to be done and do them. I buy a Hersey candy bar and unwrap it right there on the spot. I prepare and then I do. This waiting business is for, well, those who can wait. So, I’m sensing I have yet another lesson to be learned. Waiting and anticipation can be good. Good for what I’m not yet sure, but apparently they must build character. That’s what life lessons are supposed to do, right? I’m wondering when my character is actually going to be built. You’d think by age 60 I’d be pretty ready to get on with it, with character checked off my ‘to do’ list. God is funny that way. I guess we aren’t truly done learning until we round the bend and see those Pearly Gates.
So, I will wait. When the day is right, I will ride once again. And, I will be a better person for it.
Wishing all of you a warm, dry, perfect Memorial Day weekend. And, small plugs for not waiting… get your flags up. Honor our country and those who didn’t have the luxury to wait.
Tuesday, May 24, 2011
I hate to keep talking about weather but it seems that the nasty, windy, chilly, rainy, tornadoey Mother Nature thing is enjoying being in the headlines. My prayers once again go out to those who have suffered the most. This time the dear ones in Joplin, MO.
On Sunday as Gary and I were heading over to the Mayo Clinic for his check up, we ran into hail, wind, rain coming down in sheets, and a tornado. We didn’t see the tornado, but it hit the town we were driving through as we were driving through it. LaCrosse, WI suffered damage, but fortunately no deaths. We and about fifty others were huddled together at a rest stop as Mother Nature had her tantrum.
It dawned on me how little control we really have, especially against something as big as nature. We are at its mercy. We cannot stop a downpour, or for that matter, make rain fall on a dry, parched land. The wind will toss us where it will, and hail will pelt us like a bully on a playground whenever it wants. We are helpless.
The control thing is only a myth we like to perpetuate. We like to thump our chests and shake our fists and prance like roosters and pretend we’ve got it all covered, but we don’t.
While at Mayo, we got another good report. Gary is cancer-free at the moment. But as we waited all day for the results of his PET scan I didn’t feel any different than I did as we huddled at the rest stop waiting out the storm. I had no control. Nothing I could do could influence the results one way or the other. I was at something else’s mercy.
The good news in all of this out of control, powerless, helpless realization? I’m not the best one qualified to be in control. I’m a little lacking when it comes to telling a thundercloud where to go or a cancer cell to scat. But I know Someone who excels at it. His wisdom rates off the charts. His track record at standing firm and fearless at our side in times of trouble is pretty impressive. Evil fears Him. Angels worship Him. So, I will trust Him… with nature and my husband’s health. But, I must remember, He never promised easy. He promised faithfulness. That is good enough for me.
Thursday, May 19, 2011
you. So is slurping down some cod liver oil.But, who in their right mind would want to do either on purpose?
THE LULU CHRONICLES
I was up early and on LuLu trying to beat the rain. We did our six-mile route that takes us up three hills, past two Labradors, one weenie dog, a peacock (he screeched at me this morning and made me almost fall off LuLu), a burro (yep, a tiny little donkey) and my favorite yard. This yard is one of those ‘hermit’ yards with discarded farms tools as planters, daffodils blooming out of old coffee cans and car parts made into yard art. Since it’s at the top of one of my hills, I get a good look at it because by then I’m going pretty slow and gasping for air.
Well, today, as I crested my mini-Mt. Everest, I noticed something in the yard I’d not seen before—crutches hanging from a clothesline. A first for me. These crutches hit a nerve and not because they were bungee-corded to a clothesline; but because it was about this time last year that crutches came to live at our house. My husband, Gary, had this huge bump removed from his ankle that stumped all of his doctors. As he was recovering and learning how to hobble on crutches, it was decided we should head off to Mayo to hobnob with doctors who were used to seeing unusual ankle bumps that resembled the chin of Jay Leno. Our eventual diagnosis: an atypical cellular blue nevus that had metastasized into a rare form of stage three melanoma. A mouth full, I know. To make a long story short, it’s been a year of firsts, fear, and faith. But, the good news is that at the moment Gary is cancer free.
However, next Monday, we’re off to Mayo for his every four-month PET scan. His last scan in January was clear. We rejoiced and came home and tried to put this all behind us. But, as Monday draws near, I can’t help but get a little nervous. I’m trying to beat all of the “What if…” thoughts back down into that rabbit hole of worry. Most days, I win. Some days the rabbit hole wins. Seeing the dangling crutches didn’t help. It would have been better if they would of had little bird feeders welded on to them and propped up with hubcaps; then I would have thought them cute and clever. Hey, that gives me an idea. If Gary’s PET scan is clear this time, I just might come home and hot-glue gun some birdhouses on our set of crutches. What better way to celebrate a cancer-free report? We’d appreciate your good thoughts and prayers.
Until next time,
Tuesday, May 17, 2011
Photo: Me & Judy Truitt during our Florida vacation a couple of years ago.
There’s no LuLu story today. I haven’t been able to ride my bike since Friday. I love Wisconsin. It’s been my home for over thirty years. We have the most beautiful summers on earth. It hardly ever gets in the 90s or 100s and during the summer, and we have the greenest grass this side of Ireland. Most summer nights, we sleep with our windows open, no need for air conditioning. Our autumns are even more beautiful as we watch our trees being slowly painted with bright yellows, oranges, and deep reds by a Holy hand.
Our springs, however, suck. They’re cold, wet, and windy and behave like a willful child. They give us just enough warmth to fool us into thinking we can pull off our socks. And when we do, wham! It snows one more time, or drops twenty degrees.
Hence, the last few days have not been conducive for an outing with LuLu. But, I haven’t just sat in the house eating bon-bons. No sir. I’ve been getting ready for the Truitt/Cleveland Reunion. The Truitts, Clevelands and another dear couple planted a church together in here in Wisconsin. Everyone has since moved away except for us. However, that didn’t keep the Truitts and us from raising our kids together. We are best friends, and our kids are best friends. Now, it’s time that our grandchildren become best friends as well. So, over Memorial Day weekend, the twenty-four of us are going to gather at our house for fun and games. We’ve started ‘trash-talking’ over the airwaves as we prepare to compete in horseshoes, washers, red rover and duck-duck-goose.
Once on Josh’s sixth birthday, all he wanted was a weekend with his buddy, Todd. So, the Truitts met us half way (about a three hours trip) at a Hardees. When we walked in the restaurant, there sat a huge decorated box in which Todd jumped out of. Josh got his birthday wish.
The Truitts are the folks we’ve laughed together with until our toes curled from the exertion. They are the friends that sometimes words just aren’t necessary. For over thirty some years we’ve been there for each other during births, deaths, weddings and life’s other celebrations. Last year, when Gary was diagnosed with cancer, the Truitts met us at Mayo for his surgery. When the Fake Knee came into my life, it was Judy Truitt who came and nursed me those first critical days. We haven’t lived in the same town in years, but a phone call is all it takes.
So, I’ve been cleaning and preparing beds and sprucing up things for our first reunion where all kids and all grandkids will be present and accounted for. This special friendship is one of God’s sweetest blessings.
How about you? Got any soul mate friends you’d like to talk about? I’d love to hear.
Friday, May 13, 2011
THE LULU CHRONICLES
When I was ten-years–old, one Friday night, my parents took my brother and me to Montgomery Wards and bought us both a bicycle. It was so exciting because it wasn’t our birthdays or Christmas or anything. It was just an ordinary Friday night. Our bikes were twins, meaning mine was a female version of my brothers. My first ‘big’ bike. I had been limping along with the same bike that had had my training wheels—minus the training wheels now. And, if its chain had falling off once, it had fallen off a bazillion times. But, now, I had moved up to the big leagues. My beauty had a big tubular belly, fenders, a ‘tow seat’, and neatest of all neats, a headlight. Actually, that bike looked a lot like LuLu does now, except my Wards was teal.
It was the beginning of summer and I bet you I put a hundred miles a week on those fat tires for the next three months. I biked everywhere that summer. If my mom needed bread or milk, I was the first to volunteer. Off to the Seven/Eleven I rode. I ventured far beyond my neighborhood and explored unknown territories. Like the swamp where I met my first up-close and personal alligator (remember I grew up in Florida). I was a ‘ditch explorer’ so if I got wind of a new ditch being put in, I’d be the first one there after the workers left to crawl down into that big, shiny, new tunnel underneath the road. I caught my best tadpoles in those things. And, it was amazing how far one could travel if one didn’t constantly have to stop and finagle a bike chain back on. My best friend, Loopie and I were a matched set all summer, as our bikes became our wings. Did you ever play hide & seek on a bike? We did. Races around the block became an evening ritual when five or six of us would meet at the corner after supper. Cops & Robbers was another favorite.
But in that entire summer, I never once thought about riding my bike as ‘exercise’. It never crossed my lips to say, “I guess I better go give my heart a good workout.” And as for my cowgirl back then, I had ‘bike-cowgirl’ for maybe three seconds. Ah, to be ten again. However, every time I hop in LuLu’s saddle a little part of me is transported back to that summer; to a time when joy was to be had just by a little pedal down the road.
How about you? Tell me about your first ‘big’ bike. What did she look like? What magical places did she take you?
See you next week. By the way, I’m changing my post days to Tuesdays and Thursdays. I hope you’ll keep joining me on those days. So, see you next Tuesday.
Wednesday, May 11, 2011
The LuLu Chronicles
LuLu-ism #12: A cowgirl hanging off a bike seat is not the worst thing in the world.
This morning as I was plotting out my bike route it occurred to me I was trying to decide in which route would I encounter the fewest people. Now, I’m a pretty passionate people person, however, not so much when I’m on LuLu. In the back of my mind, I’m wondering what people may be thinking of this middle-age, over-weight woman riding a bike with her cowgirl hanging off her seat (yeah, I’ve got the widest seat known to man on LuLu, but my cowgirl hasn’t met a seat she doesn’t mush around and hang off like a yarn-ball curtain fringe.) I care what people think. And what gets my goat is that I care what those kids on those yellow school buses think when they pass me from behind. Arrg! Suddenly, I’m a middle-schooler again!
Why do I care? Well, my imagination has those pimpled-squirts taking pictures of me with their cell phones and passing it around at lunch. Then I have them making up little songs about the fat lady on the bike. Then I think that teen girls are looking at themselves in school bathrooms and praying they never have a cowgirl like that old lady riding that pink bike.
How many of us have not done something we enjoy because we’re afraid of what someone may think? Like, it’s a hot as molasses afternoon, but you wear long-sleeves because you don’t want people to see that your upper arms are large enough to be used as a tablecloth? Or we don’t get into the pool afraid, well, everything about that situation.
It’s not only our weight, its our teeth, or our hair, or lack of education, or our clothes or whatever! Caring what others think of us is so imbedded into our fiber, we at times, don’t do what we love or what would give us joy because we fear what someone may think; even those we don’t know, like whiny teens on a school bus. We don't want them thinking less of us, or heavens to Betsy, laughing at us.
I say, let’s stop that foolishness. Put on that sleeveless dress and let the arms flap wherever they want. Tug on that bathing suit and splash all those little toothpicks out of the pool. And, ride your bike where you darn well please.
Lesson learned: Life is simply too short not to do something that gives you joy.
Monday, May 9, 2011
LuLu-ism # 11: Bugs are protein. Protein is good for you. Therefore, bugs are good for you.
Happy late Mother’s Day to you all. Mine was full of family and friends- a lovely way to start a week. I’d planned on a bike ride, but the day just got too full and it came down to a nap or LuLu. I won’t tell you which I chose, but it didn’t involve a bike seat.
But, this morning I was back at it. Up bright and early and out on the road. It was in the 50s and windy. Riding along against the wind I experienced a milestone when I got my first bug in the mouth. I’d forgotten about bugs. After a harsh winter you’d think they’d all be wiped off the face of the earth. But, no, they’re hardy little buggers.
To keep my mind off the fact that my hair was being blown all to one side of my head and that the Fake Knee and its pedal were having a scrimmage over who would rule, I sang. Which wasn’t a hard thing to do since I’ve had this one tune in my head since church yesterday. The words went something like, “Jesus redeemer and friend…” As I’m half humming, half singing this song, it hits me how simple yet powerful the lyrics are. Jesus, the Son of God, the Creator of all, the Savior of the world, the King of kings, is my actually my friend. You see, in my fantasies I’m being interviewed by Oprah about my latest book. I’m hob-knobbing with Mitford series author Jan Karon and Harry Potter’s J.K. Rowling, and bantering book ideas with Stephen King. Although I could never read a King novel and ever hope to sleep again, I’d love to have lunch with him. These are cool, important people to me who I’d love to meet. However, they don’t know me from Adam as they say. Yet, there is One who is greater than all who does know me, seeks me out, and rejoices when I acknowledge him.
Jesus, my redeemer and friend.
I sang/hummed that song the whole six miles. When I put LuLu away, the Faked Knee ached and the Cowgirl wasn’t all that happy. Yet, my soul was full of Light.
Lesson learned: I best start keeping my mouth closed while riding, and a bike ride with a Friend who also just happens to be the Son of God can go a long way.
Friday, May 6, 2011
LuLu-ism #10: If you find yourself ‘walking’ your bike instead of ‘riding’ it, make the smirky nine-year-old waiting for his school bus watching you think that that was your intention all along.
Got up early. Limbered up on Rusty. Headed out on LuLu. A gorgeous morning. Sunshine. Clear skies. Birds chirping. The only downside was that a headwind was pushing into me the minute I turned west, and just as I was plowing up a hill. I call it a hill. Lance Armstrong might call it a bump, but who’s asking him? I was feeling strong. The Fake Knee was complaining, but I didn’t listen. The heel stayed stuck to the pedal. I finally turned south and out of the wind. All is going great. Until… my right pedal falls off. I’d seen no cars this morning until just that moment. I hobbled to get out of the way just in time to watch the car run over my pedal.
Reason Number 503,567 Why God Made Cells Phones: When you’re a mile and a half away from home and you have a pedal malfunction, you can call the Hubs for help. Actually, I walked home (exercise is exercise, right?), but I wanted to make sure he’d still be there when I got back to fix my pedal. As I’m walking LuLu home, I’m also thanking the good Lord that this pedal mishap did not happen on yesterday’s ride. It was at about this same spot yesterday I stopped to take off my sweatshirt only to discover that I had a hole in my pants- a Murphy-sized hole. You could have put your fist through it. Picture if you will, black exercise pants and white undies. Remember LuLu-ism #9? It wasn’t fiction, folks.
Anyway, Gary was home and my pedal was no worse for the wear.
All pedaled-up, I tried it again, but this time I had a passenger. Yep, I decided to give Murphy-dog his inaugural ride in the basket. He took to it like a duck in water. He sat right up there with his ears perked. You’d of thought he was born to ride! We rode to the end of the road and back (almost a mile). When we got home and I let Murph down, he pranced like a Tennessee walking horse; he was so pleased with himself. Being cute is his salvation. If he wasn’t, I’m afraid he’d still have yesterday’s holey exercise pants tied around his neck in a very tight knot.
Lesson learned: Forget Plan B, at times you got to have a Plan C or even D. Check your pedals before you roll, and the back of your pants.
Have a great weekend, ya’ll.
Wednesday, May 4, 2011
THE LULU CHRONICLES
LuLu-ism #9: Don't leave sweaty biking pants on floor where tiny, white dog can get to them, unless you don't mind riding all over creation with a hole in your pants. Trust me... it happens.
Missed me? Yeah, sorry about that. I hate to repeat myself, but the weather here has been depressing. If it wasn’t raining, it was too windy. If it wasn’t windy the temps were in the low digits. And, there were days, it was all of the above. Simply not good bike riding weather. Of course, I suppose if I was a die-hard bike rider I wouldn’t let any of those things deter me. But I’m not. I’m a whimp who fancies herself more dedicated and committed than she really is. However, as luck would have it, this morning—no wind, no rain and the temps were above freezing. So, hop on LuLu I did.
I’ve spend a great deal of time ‘tricking out’ LuLu. First, I was on a quest to find the perfect bicycle seat. After three tries, I’m telling ya folks, there ain’t one. But I did find one my cowgirl could live with. Then it was trying to find the perfect basket for Murphy to ride along in. It took two tries there. I still haven’t taken Murp on his inaugural ride, but that’s coming soon. And then, I had to find the perfect pedals. You see with the Fake Knee, I can only bend it so far and to do that I can’t put my entire foot on the pedal. I can only peddle with my heel. Hence, I needed pedals with little spiky thingys on them to hold my heel in place. My first two sets of pedals just could not do it, and I was forever having my foot slip off the pedal making it slow going. But this morning, I tried out third pair and Wa-La! Heel stayed in place. A firm connection was made. A side note here: My sweet hubby has been rolling his eyes every time I’ve taken something back to the store and every time he’s had to put yet another seat on LuLu or a new set of peddles. I don’t know why he seems so surprised. I’ve been a high-maintenance gal ever since he’s met me. After thirty-nine years wouldn’t you think he’d just expect it from me? I guess he can always hope. Bless his heart.
A great ride this morning. My foot made a solid connection. I was able to peddle with confidence and no slipping.
Make solid contact. Have confidence. No slipping.
Makes sense doesn’t it? In bike riding and other stuff. I have found that in my spiritual life if I am making solid and repeated contact with my God either through regular prayer, meditation, or reading the Word, I am less afraid. I can participate boldly in my own life with confidence and without slipping.
Just a thought.
Love you guys,