Month: May 2010

Shameless Self-Promotion

While I have been training for these silly little events, wanted you to know what else I have been up to.  Came up with the idea to start a blog showcasing blogs in Oak Park.  I expanded the parameter to include others on the west side.  I call it Urban Fringe.  Hope you have a chance to take a look at it.


10 mile D-Day

The big day is upon me. I reviewed the rules and looked closely at the time requirements for the 10 mile run, they specifically state that you have to be able to complete the full run in 2 ½ hours.  When K and I started training for this, we were optimistic that out times would decrease as our fitness levels improved.  We have been training since February for goodness sake.  K and I did 8 miles a couple of weeks ago and realized that we would be unable to do the full 10 miles in the allotted time.  Apparently they close the doors to Soldier Field if you don’t get there in time.  With my luck I’d be standing on the outside of the stadium banging on the doors trying to get in–like something out of Monty Python.  So, K and I decided that we’d do this.  We’ll NOT use timing chips and start our own 10 miler early.  Certainly we don’t want the competitive racers thinking that we are trying to cheat the system and get a much better time, but we have trained a long time to do this race.  I personally, could be just as happy drinking mimosas, but I guess I’ll follow my leader.  The crazy thing is that I’ll be waking up at 5:00 Sunday to do Bike the Drive.


Gotcha!!!  NO, there is no baby in my belly, however, a drunk neighbor congratulated me last week.  I was so confused I had no idea why I was being congratulated.  Of course she blamed it on the wind blowing my sweater away from my body, then she blamed it on her consumption of a bottle of “MERLOT!” (spoken with a slur)  Her announcement didn’t faze me at all.  It clearly made the rest of the folks hanging out in the alley drinking feel bad for me.  (man, the images you must have of me and my neighbors…)  I am not embarrassed about the way I look.  My body is mine and I am happy with the way it is right now.  I may have nervous breakdowns about parenting, bills, pressure, but nothing about the way I look makes me feel uncomfortable, unless my pants are unzipped and I don’t know it.

Death and the Mantises

If finding a praying mantis alive is good luck, I am forever plagued by bad karma.  I was so excited a month ago to finally get the praying mantis egg case from insect lore.  This had been a gift for one of our kids last year as an experiential learning opportunity.  In secret though, this was going to be a good time for me.  Last year, however, when I went to order the case they were all out of them for the season.  I had to wait almost a full year to get my case.  In April we did get the case.  We finally put together their little pagoda and mesh home.  I had to tape the little pagoda inside because it wouldn’t stay together.  Not that the mantis would have minded, but I thought it best to kept he pagoda intact. 

Mesh case Praying Mantis Pagoda

The mantis egg case hung in our mesh container for nearly 4 weeks.  I began to believe that they would never hatch.  This weekend, I didn’t have a chance to really observe them to see how things we progressing.  Sleepy sand eyed on Sunday morning, I noticed that there were hatchlings all over the inside of this mesh container. 

tiny cute hatchlings

I woke the kids up, my daughter was thrilled and son couldn’t have cared less.  I remembered from the instruction booklet that they should be separated pretty soon after hatching to avoid them eating each other.  Not knowing if they had hatched Friday, Saturday or Sunday, I decided, better safe than sorry….I needed to separate them now and set them free.

Lessons learned while releasing praying mantis:

  1. Mantises hold on to the inside of the mesh container.  They do not WANT to come out.  Shaking them with all of your might will get them out, maybe legless and shocked, but on the ground at least.  Once on the ground, the ant population of the world will really appreciate your efforts.  Tribes of ants will gather to carry off mantis body parts.  The mantis head being carted away by the ants is an image I will never quite get out of my head.  (so sorry Manny)

    Ant food

  2. The information sheets say that fruit flies are an ideal food for the hatchlings.  Online information says that the food has to be smaller than the head of the mantis.  Well, either I have extra tiny mantis or Precambrian fruit flies because my fruit flies are 10 times bigger than the head of the mantis.
  3. Flightless fruit flies are available at Petco.  Call before you go and ask if the containers they have actually have LIVE fruit flies or your trip will be a waste of time. 
  4. The cute little pagoda that you taped has become a death trap for 2 mantises that no longer have their legs…thank you very much.
  5. Tiny spiders while food to the grown mantis are actually killers to the hatchlings.
  6. To stop the ant buffet in the backyard, I took my remaining 20 – 30 mantis to the backyard with a bunch of Tupperware containers (holes punched in the lids)  I decided to put in each container, 1 – 2 mantis, 3 fruit flies + fruit so that they could multiply if necessary, and some leaves.  I got the flies and the fruit into the containers just fine.  Again, the struggle was getting the mantis in there.  Finally got them in when a big wind picks up and blows the containers.  When I pick them up the mantis are flattened and stuck to the fruit. 
  7. Put them away for the night and fill the whole thing up with fruit flies and when you wake in the morning it will be a carpet of tiny dead mantis on the floor stuck to the goo of the banana and the carcasses of fruit flies that didn’t make it.
  8. Don’t get excited that you may have saved 3 because when you wake in the morning, the three will have become 1. 

 I am resigned that this experiment was a failure.  I secretly pray that some of the 100 or so that I let go of actually lived, there is always a chance I guess.  I plan to write to insect lore to inform them of my grim reaper status and ask for forgiveness and advice for next year.  I need to redeem myself.  I really wanted a mantis.  Can you believe Sears sells egg cases?

Rain rain go away

What is this weather?  Okay, I know, spring in Chicago.  What can I expect?  But, here I sit the night before an 8 mile run knowing I am going to have to reschedule because there is a thunderstorm outside.  All of the longer distance runs these past few weeks have been messed up because of the rain.  So, my gal pal K and I are going to try to do this on Saturday instead.  I have to avoid a Friday morning run though, cause we’re hitting the whirlyball rink on Thursday.  Again, why can’t we just go for drinks like normal friends?  But no, we’ll do something insane first, then drink.  Hopefully, we’ll be smiling like this crew.

Tut tut, it looks like rain

We had a seven mile run to do this weekend.  I had weekend commitments that made a run on Saturday or Sunday virtually impossible, or at lease uncomfortable.  Since running alone is uncomfortable, I simply didn’t want to do it.  We decided to do an early 5:30 a.m. run.  Well, at 3:30 the rain was pouring down and the lightning was flashing.  The text I got from K, was essentially, I can run in the rain, but not in the lightning.  So, we bailed.  As I sat at work I worried about whether or not I was going to be able to do this run this weekend or not.  So, I decided to take a couple of hours off, mid afternoon to push through the run.  I started in the loop and headed down to the aquarium, to Northerly Island and back.  Even though it rained, I managed to get some shots from the phone.  I was happy to be back to the office and even happier that I was able to have as much wine as I wanted this weekend.

Finding the mojo

This week I have really tried to get back in the groove.  I am so worried about this 10 mile run coming up.  My breathing is still not where I need it to be and my legs, body and head just hasn’t been completely in it.  Despite my lack of desire, I did a pretty good job this week.  I did a short run on Wednesday, about a 5K.  The shots from the car early in the morning will tell all in terms of just how gorgeous it was. So after the 5 k on Wednesday there was early morning swimming with K.  She and I hadn’t been in the pool for ages.  How nice it was to see some of our old friends and fellow athletes.  It is amazing how quickly the strength and skill leaves when you aren’t practicing swimming.  I have a lot of work to do since I’ll be doing this CES triathlon training.

Tip and Paddle

My last post triggered a trip down memory lane to earlier athletic endeavors.  The summer before my sophomore year of high school I talked my girlfriend N into signing up for a boundary water canoe trip through our church camp outside of Ely, Minnesota.  The humor in this is that no matter what N and I did together while growing up, we ALWAYS got into trouble.   My mother adored her, but would cringe at the thought of us together because we lost all sense of sound decision-making.  Memories of this have faded over the years, but here are a few: 

  • I believe we canoed over 70 miles that trip.  
  • We drank, swam and bathed from the same water. 
  • N and I often went together to the pine box so that we could sneak cigarettes. 
  • All of the food was dehydrated and it tasted like it was dehydrated. 
  • A camper brought a bottle of Freon (good GOD what was he thinking…there goes the ozone) so that we could have ice in our drinks a couple of times during the trip. 
  • We took communion with pita bread and grape Kool Aid. 
  • We had to carry these gargantuan backpacks stuffed with all of our crap, they had to fit in the canoes. 
  • The one time N and I set up our own tent, it rained that night and we woke up in a puddle, (cigarettes drenched)
  • Not one fellow camper wanted to get in the canoe with me, cause, I tended to tip it over.  (cigarettes drenched)
  • On an especially windy day, I remember shouting to the world while slapping the lake with my paddle “Lake Agnes is a Bitch”  The fellow Christain campers and counselors chuckled despite the profanity!   Here is a topo map of the dear Lake Agnes in case you ever want to experience her windy wavy freezing hell. 

Here is a topographic map of the area that includes Lake Agnes.

I recently looked at the Indiana United Methodist Church camps, looks like you can still register to go back up to the area.