Wind Wishes for Earth Day

It's Earth Day! Let's Celebrate with Wind Wishes!

When our friend, Joy, moved away, the gals in our creativity group, wrote hopes for her and tied them to a tree to wish her well.

When our friend, Joy, moved away, the gals in our creativity group, wrote hopes for her and tied them to a tree to wish her well.

How To Make Wind Wishes:

Cut the paper into strips at least 1 inch wide and between 6 and 24 inches long. Vary the length and width of the paper strips. Try not to cut the strips too narrow or they will tear.

Write one wish for the earth on each strip of paper. These wishes might be hopes you have for our earth’s future or for the earth’s creatures.

Punch a whole in one end of each paper strip.

Lace string or yarn through the whole in the paper strip and tie a knot.

Tie the wishes to the branches of a tree, or onto a fence and watch them flutter in the wind.

Wind Wishes on a School Fence blowing in the breeze

Wind Wishes on a School Fence blowing in the breeze

Supplies:

Strips of paper (used bags, construction, wrapping)
String or yarn
Something to write with (pens, crayons, water-based markers or paint)

*Please don’t use plastic, foil, beads, glitter, or other materials that will not decompose and might be harmful to animals and birds.

These Earth Day wind wishes will fade, and the paper will decompose. Birds and squirrels will use the bits of string and paper to build nests.

Prayer flags in Kathmandu, 

Prayer flags in Kathmandu, 

By our deeds throughout the coming year, let's strive to make these wishes come true!

CURSED with Call It What You Will!

“What is the daydreaming equivalent to flaneur?”

I asked my know-it-all friend Google.

Flâneur (pronounced: [flɑnœʁ]), from the French noun flâneur, means “stroller”, “lounger”, “saunterer”, or “loafer”.Flânerie refers to the act of strolling, with all of its accompanying associations.
— Wikipedia

—Or should I have written equivalent of flaneur instead of to flaneur—Halt! Scratch that! (Grammarian-digressions are not “writerly." They are more excuses to drift away. Write now, fix later . . . )

I guess the idea is to imagine listening while daydreaming about strolling into the blur.

I guess the idea is to imagine listening while daydreaming about strolling into the blur.

 Good old Google directed me first to Flaneur Audio. A fuzzy woodlands image and a playlist of “0 minutes; 0 titles.” 

Why do I ask? You ask:

Because “daydreaming” is too passive, to harmless-sounding for this affliction.

The next Google link took me to page 133 of a treatise entitled “A Short Phenomenology of Flanerie” which was, I assure you even as I hyperlink, is no treat to read.

(And no, “Flanerie” it is not a misspelling of “Flannery.”) However, Flannery O’Connor’s Slow, deep, Suthun' drawling style is sort of what I mean in asking the question.

Maybe Flannery's prose read slowly because she didn't have A/C. Was the summer air was so dense it weighed heavily on her hand so she couldn't write fast?  Did she go out to the porch to cool off before writing fast-paced scenes?

Maybe Flannery's prose read slowly because she didn't have A/C. Was the summer air was so dense it weighed heavily on her hand so she couldn't write fast?  Did she go out to the porch to cool off before writing fast-paced scenes?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Why do I ask?

Because “daydreaming” is too passive, too harmless-sounding for this WHAT-DO-YOU-CALL-IT? Affliction . . . nay. CURSE!

A CURSE which most recently led to me being stranded in JFK airport at 6:02 am. It struck like this:

Right on time—albeit night time: 4:00 am—I revved up the Long Island Express Way toward JFK airport. Happy the forecast-ed snow hadn’t hit, I hit the almost empty highway with my mind tuned to nothing.

                                                 Then, I started thinking about that snow and like snow, my mind drifted . . .

                                                 Then, I started thinking about that snow and like snow, my mind drifted . . .

ZOOMMMMMMMMMing along, thinking fluffy, puffy, snowy ideas . . .  ZOOMMMMM . . . Past the exit—

Congratulating myself for coming to in time to catch my mistake, I flipped a U-turn, and circled back to the entrance. No worries.

The radio station was replaying the same set it has been playing for the past week. I knew all the words, so I sang along as I drove. Until somehow, I wasn’t singing, I was thinking. Thinking through my stories…about Vampire Baby . . .

Her poor brother. . . and where his unsuspecting parents would make him take Tootie next . . . and what’s she could bite—

Her poor brother. . . and where his unsuspecting parents would make him take Tootie next . . . and what’s she could bite—

WHAAAA WHOP WHOP WHIRRRRRRRRR   Sirens!    Flashing lights!

I clutched the wheel, scanned traffic, focused as I rolled passed the  1 ambulance-3 squad car-2-car smash-crash

Which got me thinking about boys . . . how they are born with car noises BUBBBBBBBBBB. . . . Max had been . . . Then I got to thinking about Baby no-teefers-yet Ben, and how pretty quickly he’d have teeth. Will he be a Vampire Baby? Then I got to thinking what Ben might bite. . . . what kind of stories will Ben make up and will I imagine stories for him . . . lah lah lah . . .

         Monsters….and trucks….Mickie Knudsen’s brilliant, funny, don't-I-wish-I'd-thought of it Big Mean Mike.

         Monsters….and trucks….Mickie Knudsen’s brilliant, funny, don't-I-wish-I'd-thought of it Big Mean Mike.

About how it reminded me of Visitor for Bear

And why? Because Mike and Bear are grouches? 

And why? Because Mike and Bear are grouches? 

I'm a grouch! Could I write about a grouch? What kind of grouch?—

--WIZZZZZZZZZZZZZ  

                                                            I glimpsed a sign for the Mid-town Tunnel as I zoomed past . . .

                                                            I glimpsed a sign for the Mid-town Tunnel as I zoomed past . . .

I hit the pause button.  I didn’t remember signs for the Mid-Town Tunnel on my way to the airport? I didn’t think so, anyway—

I took the next off ramp, which also happened to lead to a gas station, which made me feel more smart than stupid as I was going to have to fill up the rental car anyway, so really, this was a fortuitous overshot (overshoot?) as I could now double-checked the route on Google Maps while fueling--I couldn’t have gone tooooo far past the airport turn off--good thing I’d left so early. . .

Determined not to make any more mistakes, I flipped a U-Turn. This time, paying strict attention to each Google Map lady instruction, I drove straight back to the airport, to the rental car return where a robot recording told me to go inside. So I did, and waited for the attendant to stop kvetching with her colleague and pay attention to me, which she eventually did, and after a quick comfort stop clomped purposefully to the Air Train station where I responsibily checked the directory, found Jet Blue’s location and boarded the next train .

Maybe it was the chug-chugging that got to thinking about trains, and train books, and what if my story—the story I didn’t know how to fix—what if I put a train in it—lah-lah-lah . . .

Maybe it was the chug-chugging that got to thinking about trains, and train books, and what if my story—the story I didn’t know how to fix—what if I put a train in it—lah-lah-lah . . .

. . . I came to in front of the Caribbean Airlines desks with nary a Jet Blue desk in sight. Why? Because I was in Terminal 4, not 5—

I wasn't phases. (OK, I was, but just a little bit.) The swirling ideas had infused me with wonderment and possibility even this detour couldn’t dispel.  

All the way on walk back to the Air Train and the ride back to Terminal 5 and the longer walk to the check-in counters I held tight to the feeling and the ideas--a mind stuffed with BRILLIANT MUST-DO ideas!

In hearing this account, some—not my family—might applaud this . . . this. . . Imaginitis. A gift! They might call it. This kind of dream thinking is vital! Imperative! It’s what makes writers WRITERS. It’s the path to going deeper to our best stories!

That's certainly what I was thinking:  “What a gift!” as I waited in the correct queue at the correct terminal, “What a gift!” as I made my way to the check-in desk, “What a gift!” even as upon hearing my destination the airline rep checked her watch. If she had smiled and said “welcome” I might still be thinking "What a gift!"

But she didn’t.

Now, instead of a head-full of insights, solutions to my story problems, brilliant ideas, what I have to show for this latest bout of whatever the correct term for this daydreaming equivalent to flaneur is is a bill for another flight, a day-long wait in the airport, another flight to Miami followed by another wait, and a sore tailbone.

                                                                                                This is NO gift . . . .

                                                                                                This is NO gift . . . .

So I ask again, WHAT IS IT?

Is it OCD/ADD?  Is it a writer-itis? Is it that hormonal stuff? Or that aging thing that can be cured with heavy doses of Sudoku and crossword puzzles?

Whatever it is, help! Help! Cure me from this daydreaming equivilent-call-it-what-you . . .

 . . . Wait! 

I just thought of something . . . 

LESSONS from YOGA BABY ...CAN WE can CAN'T ?

Yoga Baby doesn't even have teeth yet. 

No Teefers inside that happy grin. No swollen gums. No white ridges. Just buckets of drool

No Teefers inside that happy grin. No swollen gums. No white ridges. Just buckets of drool

Danger Will Robinson! Ben's mobile . .  . 

Danger Will Robinson! Ben's mobile . .  . 

Yoga Baby's father didn't try pulling himself up to standing until he was 11 months. It wasn't a matter of "can" or "can't" . . . He didn't even want to try.

Yoga Baby's father didn't try pulling himself up to standing until he was 11 months. It wasn't a matter of "can" or "can't" . . . He didn't even want to try.

He just recently--at 7 months-- learned to crawl. 

 

 

Now, not 3 weeks later YOGA BABY pulled himself up to standing all by himself.

Look Ma!

 

 

At 8 months, Yoga Baby's Aunt Lexi could stand, holding on. But she needed help to get up there. 

At 8 months, Yoga Baby's Aunt Lexi could stand, holding on. But she needed help to get up there. 

Then, why Yoga Baby? HOW?

One day last week, when no one was watching, so no one was there to tell him "be careful" "no no Baby" "You might fall, Yoga Baby grabbed hold of the laundry basket and pulled himself up to standing.

The Laundry Basket is there. I'm here. The folks aren't here to tell me "no", so I say 'YES!"  

"Come on, Legs! Don't fail me now. Straighten up! Be strong! Give me some lift off!

Tah Dah!  The View from Up Here is soooo much nicer!

Tah Dah!  The View from Up Here is soooo much nicer!

Now--"No Prob, Bob!"--YOGA BABY pulls himself up all the time. 

But, how did you know you could do it, Yoga Baby?

That's the thing. It's not about knowing you CAN. . . . It's about not thinking "I CAN'T"

It's about starting from a place of "CAN!"  Then asking yourself "HOW?"

But . . . but: Are we born with that niggling voice that tells us "Can't." "No." "Don't Even Try?" "You're Gonna Fail"?

What do you think? Is that "Can't" there, talking to Yoga Baby even while he's pulling himself up? But because he can't talk yet, he doesn't understand what it's saying? Is that why Yoga Baby dares the impossible? Or does "can't" have to be taught?

Is "Can" in our nature and "Can't" from our nurture? 

If "Can't" is learned, can it be unlearned? 

Can we fire Can’t? —Can we Can it?

We Can!

 

Start with Can! Then, take a lesson from Yoga Baby, and ask yourself: How?

              HOW? STARTS NOW!

For a Paper Moon on April Fool's Day

Words words words I’m so sick of words . . . Is that all you blighters can do?
— --from the song, "Show Me"*

These may like odd words , especially coming from a writer. But it's what's stuck in my head just now. Frankly, I am sick of the of pages and piles of unwanted printed material--catalogs, magazines, outdated text books, playbills, obsolete manuals--heaped and mounded, fanned, basketed, lined-up and otherwise cluttering up my spaces...words, words, words. Do I toss them into the recycles? Donate them to the nearest library bin so they can try to sell them and or toss them into the recycles? Burn them on the balcony? Or . . .

My friend Alicia, a former bookseller now happily ensconced in the children's section of Conroe Central Library, reminded me that one art form can feed another by bringing my attention to exhibit, Rebound, at  The Halsey Institute of Contemporary Art at the College of Charleston in South Carolina, "featuring five contemporary artists: Guy Laramee, Long Bin Chen, Francesca Pastine, Doug Beube, and Brian Dettmer, who create sculptures and installations using various books and printed materials." Here's info about the exhibit and museum: Rebound.

                                                                                                     Rebound-9

                                                                                                     Rebound-9

Which reminded me of the Mysterious Paper Sculptures created and deposited anonymously in stores, book festivals,etc. that captured my fancy a while back. I wrote about them in my blog posting:  Word Sculptors Inspire Paper Sculptures

A gramophone and a coffin, sculpted from a copy of Ian Rankin’s Exit Music, and again deposited anonymously. The tag in this case read: For @natlibscot – A gift in support of libraries, books, words, ideas….. (& against their exit)
A gramophone and a coffin, sculpted from a copy of Ian Rankin’s Exit Music, and again deposited anonymously. The tag in this case read: For @natlibscot – A gift in support of libraries, books, words, ideas….. (& against their exit)

Here's the link to more: Mysterious Paper Sculptures link: 

Sharry Wright's "Word Nest"
Sharry Wright's "Word Nest"

Which brought to mind the charming "word nests" my writer, friend, fellow UN, Sharry Wright, co-blogger on Kissing the Earth, created and wrote about in a spring post titled "Building a Nest" 

                                                                                         Sharry Wright's Word Nests

                                                                                         Sharry Wright's Word Nests

Dealing with outdated reading material is a "Third-World" issue, and historically-speaking, a recent one. Prior to the invention of toilet paper any unwanted paper was put to good use. (Aww come on, surely you've heard stories of olden-day outhouses stocked with Sears Catalogs?)

In less developed places there's no such thing as "unwanted paper." When we moved to Jakarta in 2005, my housekeeper, Rusnati, painstakingly smoothed out packing paper and used it to line all the cupboards and closets in our house.

Back in the day, outdated phonebooks, Sears Catalogues, and the big thick Yellow Pages was a problem my mom turned into an annual Christmas tradition, and "how to keep the kids busy over the long holiday" solution. Her friends and our friends gathered around the table making Christmas tree table decorations from telephone books. Clump by clump we'd fold back the pages while the grown-ups chattered and Dean, Bob, Johnny, Mitch Miller's Singers, Elvis, and Don Ho "Live from Honolulu" seranaded us. Being a Multi-tasking Queen, Mom usually had us cookie baking at the same time. A little peanut butter cookie grease never hurt anything. Maybe even made the page creases neater . . .   Anyway, when the folding was over, gold spray paint and enough glitter and sequins made every tree merry and bright.

Martha Stewart's mom or friend's mom must have done the same thing. Her updated version uses outdated magazines--even her own! Telephone Book Christmas Trees.

Martha Stewart's mom or friend's mom must have done the same thing. Her updated version uses outdated magazines--even her own! Telephone Book Christmas Trees.

Martha showed how to make them on her show. Here's the video

All of which reminded me that I have scissors and glue and imagination that I could use to refashion those unwanted volumes of words words words . . .

. . . Which would make room for so many more . . .

"Show Me" from the musical, My Fair Lady, lyrics by Jay Lerner.) Have a listen on U-Tube

A Whimsical Reminder on an Icy Day

Sometimes, especially when it's hard going, we wonder why we do it. And then, on a ordinary morning comes a whimsical reminder . . . 

 . . . Or See the Marks of Tiny Feet . . .  

 . . . Or See the Marks of Tiny Feet . . .  

In a In a great big wood in a great big tree, there’s the nicest little house that could possibly be.
There’s a tiny little knocker on the tiny little door, and a tiny little carpet on the tiny little floor.
There’s a tiny little table, and a tiny little bed, and a tiny little pillow for a tiny weeny head;
A tiny little blanket, and a tiny little sheet, and a tiny water bottle (hot) for tiny little feet.
A tiny little eiderdown; a tiny little chair; and a tiny little kettle for the owner (when he’s there.)
In a tiny little larder there’s a tiny thermos bottle for a tiny little greedy man who knows the Woods Of Pottle
There’s a tiny little peg for a tiny little hat and a tiny little dog and a tiny little cat.

If you’ve got a little house and you keep it spic and span,
Perhaps there’ll come to live in it a tiny little man You may not ever see him, he is extremely shy;
But if you find a crumpled sheet -
Or pins upon the window seat -
Or see the marks of tiny feet -
You’ll know the reason why.
— "A Little House" by Elizabeth Godley (Published in THE TALL BOOK OF MAKE BELIEVE)

I never wanted that "tiny little man" to come live in my "little house" (that felt a little creepy . . . ) But I so wanted to find a little house like his. 

                                                                    One of the Fairy Houses created during Barb's workshop. 

                                                                    One of the Fairy Houses created during Barb's workshop. 

Snaps of the Fairy Houses created during Author, Bee Keeper, Fairy House Creator, Barb Crispin's Bees Knees Workshop brought that poem--

and those feelings of wonderment and delight that that tiny house might actually be--flooding back. 

The Power of Words

To see more of Barb's whimsical, wonderful Fairy Houses, click over to Crispin Apiary's Facebook page

 

VAMPIRE BABY thrilled to be a finalist for the OKLAHOMA BOOK AWARD!!

VAMPIRE BABY is sharping her fangs--looking forward to sinking them into Oklahoma Center for the Book folks at the Oklahoma Book Awards on April 12th! What a thrill to be a finalist!

Thank you for honoring VAMPIRE BABY, illustrated by Paul Meisel (Candlewick Press).

2014 Oklahoma Book Award Finalist, Children/Young Adults

Vampire Baby—Kelly Bennett—Candlewick Press

The Year of the Turnip—Glenda Carlile—New Forums Press Inc.

The Dark Between—Sonia Gensler—Alfred A. Knopf

Nugget & Fang—Tammi Sauer—Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

MOJO—Tim Tharp—Alfred A. Knopf

How I Became a Ghost—Tim Tingle—The RoadRunner Press

 

Design/Illustration

Chikasha Stories Volume Three: Shared Wisdom—illustrated by Jeannie Barbour—Chickasaw Press

The Impossible Dream: The Miracle of the Jasmine Moran Children’s Museum—designed by Nathan Dunn—Oklahoma Heritage Association

Proudly Protecting Oklahoma: The 75th Anniversary of the Oklahoma Highway Patrol—designed by Skip McKinstry—Oklahoma Heritage Association

Modern Spirit: The Art of George Morrison—designed by Tony Roberts and Julie Rushing—University of Oklahoma Press

Devon—designed by Jenny Chan and Lisa Yelon with Jack Design, photography by Alan Karchmer and Joe C. Aker—The Images Publishing Group

 

Fiction

Kind of Kin—Rilla Askew—HarperCollins

A Map of Tulsa—Benjamin Lytal—Penguin Books

The Hanging of Samuel Ash—Sheldon Russell—Minotaur Books

Che Guevara’s Marijuana and Baseball Savings and Loan—Jack Shakely—Xlibris

The Southern Chapter of the Big Girl Panties Club—Lynda Stephenson—Outskirts Press

Sweet Dreams—Carla Stewart—Faith Words Press

Non-fiction

Banking in Oklahoma Before Statehood—Michael J. Hightower—University of Oklahoma Press

Came Men on Horses: The Conquistador Expeditions of Francisco Vazquez de Coronado and Don Juan de Onate—Stan Hoig—University Press of Oklahoma

Main Street Oklahoma: Stories of Twentieth-Century America—edited by Patricia Loughlin and Linda W. Reese—University of Oklahoma Press

Riding Out the Storm: 19th Century Chickasaw Governors, Their Lives and Intellectual Legacy—Phillip Carroll Morgan—Chickasaw Press

The Fifth and Final Name: Memoir of an American Churchill—Rhonda Noonan—Chumbolly Press

Trail Sisters: Freedwomen in Indian Territory, 1850–1890—Linda W. Reese—Texas Tech University Press

When the Wolf Came: The Civil War and the Indian Territory—Mary Jane Warde—University of Arkansas Press

Poetry

The White Bird—William Bernhardt—Balkan Press

Red Dirt Roads—Yvonne Carpenter, Nancy Goodwin, Catherine McCraw, Clynell Reinschmiedt, and Carol Waters—Haystack Press

Poetry Unbound—Beth Robinson and the Mabel Bassett Correctional Center Writers—CreateSpace

Black—Sarah Webb—Virtual Artists Collective

The Oklahoma Center for the Book, sponsor of the Oklahoma Book Award competition, is a non-profit, 501-c-3 organization located in the Oklahoma Department of Libraries. Established in 1986 as an outreach program of the Library of Congress, the Oklahoma Center was the fourth such state center formed. It is governed by a volunteer board of directors from across the state.

The mission of the Oklahoma Center for the Book is
to promote the work of Oklahoma authors,
to promote the literary heritage of the state, and
to encourage reading for pleasure by Oklahomans of all ages.

For more information about the Oklahoma Center for the Book or the Oklahoma Book Award program, contact Connie Armstrong, 200 N.E. 18th Street, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, 73105; or call 1-800-522-8116 toll free, statewide; in the Oklahoma City metropolitan area, call 522-3383.

Back to Oklahoma Book Award Page
Back to ODL Agency Services
Back to ODL Home Page

 

The Argus 2014: Capetown, S.A.

The wind howled throughout Argus Eve night. I know I slept because each time a mighty wind rattled the windows it woke me. Why am I doing this ride?

At 5:00, when the alarm went off, I asked myself again.

And again when I rubbed the pain/inflammation compound on my knee, sun screened, pulled on biking pants, shirts—2 because it was chilly—biking socks, shoes, gloves, adjusted my helmet, clipped the race chip on the bike wheel, checked that my race number was in place on my back, that my green medical ID sticker with allergy info was properly placed, stuffed my pockets with my shuffle, camera, lip balm & Advil, I asked: Why are Curtis and I doing this ride?

Part of the Mason/Voysey Group-Chris, Luke, Dave, Ed, Robert, Darrel, Kelly, Curts- in Official Team Shirts, at Fountain Circle waiting for the rest of the group.

Part of the Mason/Voysey Group-Chris, Luke, Dave, Ed, Robert, Darrel, Kelly, Curts- in Official Team Shirts, at Fountain Circle waiting for the rest of the group.

Everyone else in the Mason/Voysey family group had trained. We’d arranged to meet at Fountain Circle in Downtown Capetown, so we could all start together:

o   Uncle John (80 and the inspiration for this ride)

o   4 Mason Brothers (Andrew, Robert, Charles, David)

o   3 Voysey Brothers (Donald, John, Peter John)

o   Harriet (Robert Voysey’s wife and tandem partner)

o   Caelia (Donald Voysey’s daughter and at 18 the youngest rider)

o   Cousin Robert

o   Cousin Darrel Voysey

o   Mason side Cousins: Luke, Chris Mason

o   Mason/Voysey’s “To Be”: Ed & Luke (who proposed to cousin Eve at the top of Table Mountain)

Caelia, the youngest in our group, and her dad Donald-ready to ride!

Caelia, the youngest in our group, and her dad Donald-ready to ride!

Even after we’d saddled up and were coasting downhill from Shona and Charles apartment toward the starting place, I asked myself: Can I back out now? Should I?

Through the sleepy, pre-dawn streets, the announcer bellowed and music thumped as thousands of riders, like ants converged into a solid clump thousands—35,000ish—thick.

Argus Riders--DD Group--Surging toward the Starting Line

Argus Riders--DD Group--Surging toward the Starting Line

Curtis was ready

Curtis was ready

Harriett & Robert: Tandem Ready!

Harriett & Robert: Tandem Ready!

Corralling 34,500 riders, sorting them into groups of 500 riders (some more or less), herding them through the streets and across the finish line at 5 minute intervals, seems a herculean task. With 36 years of experience the Argus organizers manage it handily and cheerfully.

At sunrise, 6:19 am, The Argus 2014 was on!

The first group set off with dollar sign race numbers on their backs. Then came groups with other symbols, then A group-through to z, then double AA group and so on. (The Voysey/Mason Family group is DD). As each group was announced and set off with a blast of the start horn, the rest of us moved closer to the finish line. The sun rose. I stopped asking why? I started asking: Can I?

The DD at the Start LIne--see the bridge in the distance? That's the start.

The DD at the Start LIne--see the bridge in the distance? That's the start.

The announcer called out tidbits about each group as its members waiting in next off “pen”. The DD group included:

·         The oldest Argus rider, at 91

·         3 or 5 participants who have ridden in every Argus Ride—this being their 37th

·         5 riders in their 80s, including the oldest female and Uncle John (we gave a huge shout out as his name was announced).

·         Amputees & folks with MS and other diseases riding recumbent bikes they pedaled with their hands.

Curtis and me--a couple of "posers" at the start of the ride

Curtis and me--a couple of "posers" at the start of the ride

I had been secretly feeling a little proud of myself that Curtis and I, oldsters that we are, were riding, until hearing this list. . .

The bullhorn blasted. The announcer shouted “And their off!”

And we stood.

A pack of 500 people on bikes does not surge forward in a wave. It oozes forward like goo in the bottom of a squeeze tube. Even slower upon hearing “Mind the wind under the bridge!” “Hold Steady!”

Head down as the wind blasted us, knocking forward riders sideways.  I gripped the bike (not my bike! I already hated this fat wheeled, thick-framed, stocky mule of a mountain bike), and inched my way across the starting line.

The Argus route starts with a long, slow uphill. Even though I was pedaling as hard as I could, it felt as though I was sliding backwards as  everyone else in the Mason/Voysey group, including Curtis and every other DD, then EEs and FFs, JJs, KKs rolled passed.

Uncle John has our team shirts designed with everyone's names and country flags on the front and back.

Uncle John has our team shirts designed with everyone's names and country flags on the front and back.

If I had ever thought about trying to keep up, I quit trying then. The best I could do was keep pedaling, and make the best of it.

Spectators lining the route, waving, cheering, carrying signs, some in costume, some holding out beers or hands for “high five” made it better.

The scenery: breathtaking vistas, aquamarine seas, buff shimmering sand, quaint and varied building & villages, attention grabbing, I-could-hop-off-and-go-in-for-a-look shops, ostrich farms, eucalyptus groves, hills and mountains and down hills gave me plenty to look at as I pedal-crept past.

 

I didn’t have a speedometer or odometer on my bike, or a watch, so I had no way of knowing how long I’d gone or how far—felt like hours and a million miles—until I spotted a bright yellow sign: ONLY 98 KM TO GO!

When everyone—Curtis included—left me in the dust at the starting line, I abondoned the thought of ever see any of them again. Of maybe crossing the finishing line as a group, the way they had discussed at the "Strategy Meeting" the night before.  It was freeing to know I didn’t have to even try to keep up. All I had to do was keep going.

Shona, leader of the official Mason cheer squad said she’d be watching us from the railroad track in Cork Bay, but I’d sort of forgotten that until I heard her calling my name. I looked up, around, and there she was waving and screaming wildly with a bunch of other non-riding family members. Their whoops  buoyed me for a few more kilometers.

Then again, down the road from their home, Aunt Marie (Uncle John’s wife) leading a Voysey cheer squad, shouted encouragement. How happy I was that their watching post was at a slight downhill spot and not one of the ugly, sweaty, hard-fought uphills.

At one Reward Stop, my reward was a glimpse of yellow shirt in the distance. Could it be Mr. B?

At one Reward Stop, my reward was a glimpse of yellow shirt in the distance. Could it be Mr. B?

Hours and Kilometers clicked by. Parts began protesting: my back, knee, chin where the strap rubbed, my seat, my seat, the bottom of my left foot, bottom of the right, knee, bottom .  . . The aches, or my attention, migrated, giving me something to think about as I pedaled—it passed the time.

Stopping after a long uphill was a bargain I made. A reward.  I’d look up and forward to a point, telling myself “When you reach that spot, you can stop and take photos.”  (Taking photos sounds way cooler than "resting."

Random Riders fighting up yet another long hill

Random Riders fighting up yet another long hill

At one such photo/rest stop, I glimpsed a familiar yellow shirt pedaling toward me. It was Curtis! He’d stopped somewhere to wait for me, then stopped again (and maybe again) until I’d wound up in front of him. Neither of us had even pulled a Daniel Day Lewis Last of the Mohicans and nevertheless, we’d found each other in that sea of 36,000. After that, we decided we’d finish together.

Chapman Hill is what riders veterans talk about. “Chappie” they call it, as if having pedaled up, up, up, up, up it, the road winding up and over the mountains, it becomes a friend.

Chapman Hill never will be “Chappie” to me. It’s a miserable climb. Incredible riding under the cliff edge, though

Chapman Hill never will be “Chappie” to me. It’s a miserable climb. Incredible riding under the cliff edge, though

Curtis battling his way up "Chappie"

Curtis battling his way up "Chappie"

See the road carved into the side of Chapman Hill? And the teeny tiny ant-riders winding up that hill? 

See the road carved into the side of Chapman Hill? And the teeny tiny ant-riders winding up that hill? 

But the long, gradual downhill after was thrilling, freeing, glorious! Especially as Chapman comes toward the end of the ride.

Having ridden the Argus before, as though through muscle memory,  I recalled well the easy, relatively flat cruise from there back into Capetown and the finish. As we rode along, I mentioned to Curtis how Chapman hadn’t seemed as hard going as I recalled. How I’d remembered a stretch where we seemed to be riding almost straight up, with lots of wobbling, pedaling almost to a standstill, and spectators giving riders pushes to help them up. “That wasn’t Chappie,” Curtis said. “That hill you're remembering is the hill that comes after Chappie . . . ”

“After???? There’s another bad hill?” I asked.

“Two more,” Curtis replied.

No one offered to push me up those next two hills. (I would have paid dearly for the service.) There was a group of red winged “Angels” pushing people up hill at one point, but they were on the far right side of the road and I was on the left, too weary and slow to try to cut across the crowd to the other side.

A bit farther on, a man was cooling people down with spray from his garden hose. I recalled laughing when he sprayed me the first time. But that had been a sunny, windless ride, and I'd been hot and powerful. (Fortunately, his territory was at a relatively slight uphill so I could veer out of range—his good fortune, for I think I would have punched him if he’d squirted me.)

Recumbent bike riders pedal with their hands and arms.

Recumbent bike riders pedal with their hands and arms.

As promised, Curtis and I crossed the finish line, together. We looked around hoping Shona & the gang had witnessed our crossing, as they had the first time we'd ridden the Argus. But no familiar voices shouted and whooped as they had in 2011. (Some strangers did. And congratulated us as they handed us our Argus Medals, and herded up past.)

There were 34,500 confirmed riders who started the Argus 2014. Winds at the starting line were clocked at about 35 mph.

The Argus winner, Nolan Hoffman,  rode it in 2 hours and 37 minutes, 1 second.

The best Mason/Voysey race time was Ed’s at 4:37

Uncle John, at 80, crossed the finish line together with his sons in 4:45

The exact time it took Curtis and I to ride the 109 km is unknown as our names do not show up on the official Argus website. Charles said they stop tracking chips after 7 hours.

So, according to official records, we may not have finished the Argus 2014. . . .

It wasn’t pretty. Or handily. Or strong. But we know we finished. 

Here's proof (recieved via email 3-12-2014):

Kelly,

Your result won’t be displayed on our website as you took longer than 7hrs to complete the race. You needed to complete the race in 7hrs from your group start time.

Your group started at 07:44:00, you finished at 15:15:45. That gives you a time of 7 hours, 31 minutes and 45 seconds.

Regards,
— Janine Jacobs Race Office Administrator RaceTec

Now that it's done, and I've slathered my knee with pain-killer, anti-inflammatory salve, I can answer that question of why? Why we rode it?

Why do any of us challenge ourselves to tackle difficult, seemingly impossible, maybe foolhardy tasks? 

It's not about whether or not anyone sees you cross the finish. Rewards, the medals, recognition, that's not it.

Why do we do it? To know we can.

Onward Don Quixote!

PHOTO AT THE FINISH TO COME--MAYBE . . . maybe not.