Tonight, I ran out west of town, stopping at this road, just west of Grinnell, Iowa. Gorgeous. I wish this photo did justice to the incredible purple-white sky – and that I’d had my bike, because this road was begging to be ridden.
Rather than heading south and east of town for today’s ride, I rode north and west over some wonderfully muddy gravel roads. As it turned out, my die occupied most of a ninety-minute interlude between downpours. Among other things, I saw scores of “red admiral” butterflies (a half-dozen hit me in the face!); a raccoon, oddly wandering around at 2:30 in the afternoon; and some pretty impressive thunderclouds gathering to the west. It was a great last ride for a while – tomorrow I head out of town for a conference in Iowa, where I hear the riding’s great but where I’ll have neither time nor a bike.
If I’m counting correctly, today was the fourth straight year we attended the wonderful Fourth of July picnic staged by some family friends at their lovely house outside of town. It’s always a big party, with tons of outdoor fun for the kids and lots of food. My girls were 50/50 on which was more important. Okay, 60/40, toward the food. (Julia’s look is one of intense concentration, not dislike of her food. Vivi’s look is one of intense hamminess, not an upper-spine problem.)
The girls wanted to camp out on Friday night, so we did! It went pretty well: we actually did sleep out in the tent. Nobody freaked out at nighttime sounds, though we did have a spot of bother when the sprinklers came on. Poor Vivi got soaked, but after some clothing improvisation, she snuggled into my sleeping bag and went back to sleep! Next time, we’re going to try camping away from home – hot dogs! a fire! s’mores!
I love that I played a (small) part in this:
Carleton College Announces Completion of $300 Million Fundraising Campaign (July 1, 2010)
Northfield, Minn. — Carleton College has announced the successful completion of its largest-ever fundraising campaign. Breaking Barriers, Creating Connections: The Campaign for Carleton has exceeded its goal, raising more than $300 million from alumni, parents, friends, corporations and foundations. One-third of all campaign dollars were given by members of the Carleton Board of Trustees and 76 percent of all alumni contributed to the campaign…
Carleton began the campaign in 2004 with an ambitious goal of raising $300 million by June 30, 2010. As of today, the College has received a total of $300,383,642 in gifts and pledges from 23,148 donors toward three strategic initiatives: enriching the teaching and learning environment by creating better ways for students to learn broadly and deeply; broadening access for students from increasingly diverse backgrounds; and enhancing the College’s physical facilities in ways that effectively support a leading liberal arts college in the 21st century.
Tuesday evening, the girls demonstrated in two clear-cut ways that they’re not so little anymore. First, within a few minutes of arriving home, both were engrossed in books – Julia a Junie B. Jones chapter book, Genevieve a stack of wordy picture books. Both read and read and read. I couldn’t get their attention at all. Even six months ago, neither of them was a good enough reader to sit silently with a book for long. Now? Fifteen minutes or even a half hour!
After a while, though, they turned to a second activity, one which Julia decided upon after reading about it in a Ramona Quimby book: making their own dinners. After a bit of squabbling and a lot of hard work, by god they did it, and did it well. Fruit salad, a turkey wrap, and cinnamon strawberries on bread for dessert.
Julia’s finishing up breakfast. She’s down to two last strawberries – one with the hull still on top, one trimmed. She tells me, “These leaves look like a crown, so this is Princess Strawberry.” She puts it in her cupped hand and says, “Now she’s on her throne, and look, here comes the other strawberry!” The other strawberry marches up Julia’s wrist and stops when it gets to her palm.
“Now the Princess Strawberry says, ‘Hello, whatever your name is!'”
The other strawberry moves forward: “My name is just ‘Sir Strawberry.'”
The princess waggles and says, “Hello, Just Sir Strawberry!”
The knight shakes himself violently back and forth: “No, just ‘Sir Strawberry’!”
The princess gets a little closer, saying, “That’s what I said, Just Sir Strawberry! Hello!”
The knight protests, “No, no, no. You’re not listening! My name is just ‘Sir Strawberrry’!”
The princess strawberry seem ready to respond when Julia announces, “And now a monster comes and eats them up!” She devours the communication-impaired strawberries.
I’m still laughing.
Compare and contrast, if you will, my daughters’ approaches to clothing themselves last Tuesday, June 22 – a day when the temperature was over ninety and the heat index was up near a hundred.
On the left, Genevieve: a nice pair of shorts, a light t-shirt, and – even though it was a sunny day – rain boots. On the right, Julia: a very heavy too-big-for-her “Snow Queen” gown from the dress-up bin (and, though you can’t see them, fancy dress-up shoes).
To each her own!
With the weather promising to be decent and my body hankering for a tough workout, I decided to do a long ride today, one based on this route. The weather actually varied from cool overcast to light rain to cloudless sunshine, but the ride would have taken a long time in any conditions, and it sure did. I have never felt more trashed after a workout or race. Over the last half hour the only distractions from my screaming back were the expectation of cold Coke at home and the cramps in my forearms.
But the ride was also felt really good: fun to do and satisfying to have done. Training is weird like that. I hope I can go at least this far again a couple more times this summer and fall. A few pictures to illustrate the ordeal fun.
About halfway through the ride, I hit this climb, which was the toughest “ascent” of the route – though not because it was either long or steep. I was just tired and needed some food and water. The fuzzy black zones in the corners were caused by my camera lens failing to open all the way, but the blurry half-view pretty much suggests how I felt.
Not long after my break, just after I passed through the tiny town of Sogn, I found a stretch of road through these beautiful rock walls. After this picturesqueness, I pretty much stopped taking photos because I was back in the pain zone and because the remainder of the ride was in the wide-open country, where the sun was unrelenting and the wind was pretty tough, too.
Sky-haze makes the fields
Oceanic. The green corn
Fades away to blue.
Ragged clouds stream south
Silently towing their gray
Shadows over us
All the construction outside Goodsell Observatory at Carleton means that the College has finally begun the construction of our long-awaited death ray.
Once installed, sometime next month, we will conduct preliminary tests on people who’ve let their dogs off leash in the Arb. When the instrument is properly calibrated, we’ll burn a clown nose on the head of the rampant lion on the west wall of St. Olaf’s slightly-too-fancy student center, Buntrock Commons. Finally, with the ray fully operational, we’ll zap our competitors where we know it’ll hurt: in their endowment managers’ offices.
Almost at the end of a pretty good day.