BY Ali

09/01 Direct Link
Today, I started by reading facebook, and saw that someone had posted "oryctolagus cuniculus, oryctolagus cuniculus" as their status. The ensuing search returned that those words are the latin name for rabbit! Yes! The first day of the month, we say "rabbit, rabbit," and evidently we receive a gift if we do this. I'd like to know whether someone has tracked their gift receipt history as a function of this practice. Some website, somewhere, with a graph of counts of shipped boxes of cookies or earrings from one's sister or college roommate. Likely we wereall duped somewhere along the line.
09/02 Direct Link
A Sabbath day at the beach with friends at their rental house. My friend's wife fried bacon, eggs, and potatoes for us and her three 20-something daughters, who have been called the Kardashians due to their long, dark hair, ebullient personalities, and tendency toward high drama (?). I loved them instantly. My friend fried the bacon while leaving the fat, effectively deep frying the meat. Now that is living, my friends! Am I right? We wandered to the beach with greasy lips and sunscreened ourselves massively as we remembered how to body surf in the washing machine of the Gulf.
09/03 Direct Link
I wore goggles for body-surfing today, to see myself jump, rip, and wash into the sand. I became a piece of seaweed, a driftwood chunk, crashing toward the shallow zone. Several times, we saw some whiting fish shooting left at the top wave crest, in perfect synchronization and visible like seeing through aquarium glass on the clear face of the wave. We chatted as we waited for our own perfect wave. In mid-sentence, our friend John was saying, "So we fixed the pipe..." and then said, "Oh!!!! This is a good one!!!!" and dashed off into the surf.
09/04 Direct Link
Hovering in beautiful fog today in north Alabama, and our outside dogs are so hairily happy to snuggle and rub their stinky dewy dogginess on my clean black shirt. No matter, they are fun licky friends and I can always wash my shirt. Brownie had a tick right next to her eye and I'm squeezing at her snout and pinching at her brow, squealing, "Hold still!" Funny how her command of English is so limited that she still struggles, clearly not understanding her strange confinement. How often do I do this, stuck, wiggling, and not understand that stillness brings freedom?
09/05 Direct Link
Not sleeping very well lately, due to what will likely be a lifelong med taken to fix annoying chest ache symptoms of a non-serious heart murmur. With a nod to chronic insomniacs and those with new babies, I stiffly salute those who have to live in a heavily sleep deprived state for more than a few days. The Bible teaches that sleep is a gift, and what a great way to describe why or how we fall into this state despite our best efforts for or against it. It rules, it reigns, and it quietly mocks our feeble attempts.
09/06 Direct Link
Running in the morning. You are not always in the mood at the moment for it (a bowl of cereal and making grunting noises sounds better), but once you have your shoes on, you feel good that you have your shoes on! And once you are three steps from done, you feel good that you are done! George Carlin once said, you feel good twice when you save leftovers: you feel good when putting them in the fridge!-I'm saving food! And you feel good when throwing them away later-I'm saving my life! So we saved our lives today.
09/07 Direct Link
Read this whole paragraph in robot voice. Data entry is a particular effort wherein it is important where you touch your fingers and your eyes to your keyboard and screen. One sly dip of the pinky and you are in the land of two zeros versus three zeros, which makes a big difference. Or, you are typing in the number 310 instead of 25 when your eyes look at the wrong line. The only way to fix it is to basically have someone else check almost every value that you type. How much world catastrophe has resulted from these oopsies?
09/08 Direct Link
Our dog Brownie is a happy little beast. Her requirements are few. Pet pet pet pet pet pet eat. She can endure Alabama's hot temperatures as long as she can secretly dig a giant hole in the cool red dirt under the garbage can and plop in it, a hole so deep that people from the other side of the world peep out and wave their bright colored flags. She has an eager, vast, and sweet personality (dog-sonality?) and even when she is bearing her teeth at food-stealing Dog Lucky, seems to be snarling just because she should.
09/09 Direct Link
Tonight we had some families over for the year's last glorious eve of swimming and grilling. Some kids got into a stash of stuff and found the four-wheeler helmets. Little Jonathan is 2 feet tall in a 1-foot wide helmet, wearing blue footie pajamas. Someone tells a story that makes me laugh so hard I cough a lung out. We eat more Chex mix than you should really be allowed to. The dog steals a kid's half hamburger, and the kid is hysterical while the dog chomps like a champ. I want to keep summer in present tense.
09/10 Direct Link
With the help of some good drugs, I am sleeping again! So... I have started back to swimming at the crack of day instead of crack of afternoon. I have missed my older fitness swimmer friends, including Greg, who's 80, and Rick, who isn't telling anyone his age. But here's the catch that has been the same catch since I was 14 and training at 5:15 with the Dayton Raiders. I feel SO crap when I get up and then, later, am just giddy in the pool. How do I channel that into wanting to get out of bed?
09/11 Direct Link
A treatise on hot chocolate. It is my most favorite "food" - next to peanut butter. I am both a fan and a chef. For instant kinds, I favor Nestle rich dark chocolate, even better than Ghirardelli (I know, scandalous), and for homemade - the store PCC in Seattle makes one dark and creamy. Here, I mostly crash together my weird mix: water, sugar, cocoa powder, vanilla, splash o' creamer. Granted, the powder doesn't always dissolve fully, so then there are those elusive cocoa lumps, bitter but yet enticing! At the bottom, a whole mass of them, schlumping into the last gulp.
09/12 Direct Link
Contemplating what to do about Lucky Dog "play attacking" Brownie Dog. Not really a big problem at the moment, but we are starting to see a cowed down personality in Brownie, and that's not good for her. But sometimes Brownie instigates the whole fight! It's tough to make sense of.... I wish I were the dog secret-keeper, had some insight into how to make them stop without keeping them in their nighttime kennel runs. It seems that Lucky might have a good home somewhere she can range free, but then would Brownie be lonesome and needy, or would we?
09/13 Direct Link
the combination of blue sky and green grass is genius. i wonder when fall will come and drop an even more unimaginable color wheel upon us. in ohio, where i grew up, we have a community weekend and bazaar celebrating the deliciousness of apples and cinnamon and probably nutmeg and cloves, all cooked over a fire in a cast iron pot with a wooden stirrer. the apple butter festival. i am returning like a salmon this year to watch it take place. i can probably find some crocheted potholders and clothes for the yard art animals that we don't have!
09/14 Direct Link
So I'm having that thing where I can't remember exactly what I did last night. No, not like forever, but just for a second. You ever have that? You are like, what should I write in my journal about, and then you say, Oh! I should write about what I did last night. Then you go, Hmm, what DID I do last night. I can't remember. And then a split second passes and you do remember. You remember that you went to the pool. That is the closest thing to an out-of-body experience that I can think of.
09/15 Direct Link
We rode a beautiful fall bike ride through the countryside and only found six or seven dogs chasing us at various intervals. The sixth was a little chihuahua/slash/dachshund and we looked at it and laughed, like, ha ha, you little meanie, barking thing, we are sure afraid of you! And then the very next dog about 300 feet away came charging out, a bull mastiff, with a long slow bark, whoo -oo -oo ff. We then thought that we were previously perhaps mistaken... the chihuahua was coming to us as a warning. Big large mean dog ahead! Faster!
09/16 Direct Link
Last night, we had a get together with friends who have a two-year old who doesn't really speak. And when I say, really, I mean, not at all. But he does have one word, HEY. He does say hey quite a lot. When he first sees me - Hey! He says it when he wants something, like a grunt, hey. It's like he has many words, but they are all synonyms of each other. His mom has two older boys, so she's not too worried that he will eventually be just as chatty as they are. Until then, hey hey!
09/17 Direct Link
I was grouchy and weepy this morning for no reason at all, so stop trying to list the reasons why I would be. No, I'm not pregnant or PMS'ing, no, things are not bad at home. No, I don't have a lot of work stress or shoes too tight, and didn't sleep badly. No, I'm not getting sick. Just accept the fact that sometimes there is no reason, alright already? However, yes, it is cloudy, and yes, it is a Monday, but that's no excuse, so stop it. I press forward, waiting for the funk to move off like fog.
09/18 Direct Link
my friend matt rolled his ankle running last night in the rain. he says that he looked like a crazy beast with his incredible will to excel! i agree, as he had to walk over a mile and a half home soaking wet. just for comparison, i rolled my ankle a month ago because Lucky Dog, who is also a crazy beast, knocked me over in my wet flip flops. now, even though both of these stories have crazy beasts in them, i think matt has a much better story overall, and i definitely award his a better audience rating.
09/19 Direct Link
it's been said that there are not enough hours in the day. it's been said that the day is too long. right now, i have too much work in too little time. just one week ago, the opposite. digging in to something and losing track of minutes, driving and losing hours along the dark highway, versus watching the watch for the dentist to call me in, or biding 5 minutes on hold, completely and utterly annoyed with that space of waiting. time stretches and constricts, oozes and races. even though i don't understand him, i think einstein really had something.
09/20 Direct Link
sometimes you do things that are a mystery to even your own self. ancient writers struggled with this paradox. i am definitely not exempt, i feel the weight of old mistakes i knew were mistakes before jumping in; a puzzle to myself even then. now sometimes i listen to my head sing the same song over and over, a reverie and reveille for loss of the unsullied future. one old book and one living Jesus tells me that freedom is not found in regret and self-introspection, but in giving it over. weary girl, the day can be won again.
09/21 Direct Link
we leave for vacation tomorrow!! the sun is singing and the birds are shining and the bags are (mostly) packed. i feel like i'm in a happy 80s song where i get to wear neon colors and jam with a guitar shaped like a fig newton. we will be doing a bicycle camping tour in north florida, plus after that some driving around and sightseeing. it will be kelly's first ever two-week vacation, he said that when you work for yourself, you're either too busy for a vacation, or you're too afraid to take one. I can see that.
09/22 Direct Link
the other day, my mom asked me what i wanted for my birthday and i had completely forgotten that my birthday was coming up. what? what? kids wait for months for their day, plotting each detail and who they're definitely NOT going to invite. it's their one chance to host a sort of mid-afternoon dinner party. my niece's most recent birthday was at an activity center where kids (and aunts) got to climb up in a spider tower with bunjees and slide down the impossibly big red slide once they achieved the top. that's my kind of thing, btw.
09/23 Direct Link
On this day, we rode our bikes from Ochlockonee State Park out to Bald Point State Park. From park to park. From tannin-strong blackwater river with shallow shells to sunny white sand beach with yellow blowing sun and wind. And then back. The last five miles was hard - the fresh and cooling breeze from lunchtime was suddenly hot and strong, pushing the bike backward and challenging us for those beef jerky and trail mix calories. We wondered, how much longer in this vicious wind!? And then we arrived and I had to jump into the river, shorts and all.
09/24 Direct Link
Today we drove our car from Ochlockonee to Fort Walton beach and began a week of bike touring! We camped at Topsail Hill Preserve, another great Florida state park.... and began what would be several days of trying to find out where exactly that poison ivy had entered our tent or sleeping bags. We stopped for free coffee at McDonalds and met the most interesting fellow, originally from Ohio, wearing an eye patch, and a shirt saying, "To err is human, to arr is Pirate." His name was Chris, and that would not be the last time we saw him.
09/25 Direct Link
Today we rode from Fort Walton Beach along the picturesque and relaxing communities of Highway 30A, where sun strikes white siding and painted retail areas, and jewelry and lotions and linen dresses are for sale. You can buy ice cream and sit on grass and say to yourself, hey, wouldn't it be nice to rent that beach house for a vacation. The houses have names like ShellShack and Coquina and SeaFoam Manor. From a bike, it's amazing how you really long for a white tile bathroom and some clean towels, even if it is only two days into the tour.
09/26 Direct Link
Today's ride took us from Panama City Beach to Port Saint Joe, where the only place to camp is 2.5 miles from town at an RV park with ample, if somewhat wet, grassy areas to pitch our teeny tent in a place no one ever does that. It was a long 55 mile ride, crossing green flat Tyndall Air Force Base, where there is nary a water fountain for 15 miles. After our ride, I swam in the waters where scalloping is done in summer, and we drank Apple vodka drinks Kelly fetched in the bike trailer. Herons fished.
09/27 Direct Link
Touring Port St. Joe by bike with no agenda brought us to a locked museum where Kelly accidentally fell over into the onion grass, and then to a snorkel shop where we just missed the last boat of the season, and then to McDonalds again for that free coffee, where we ran across the Pirate and chatted for at least an hour. He told us stories about hitchiking from Ohio to Florida, his would-be trucker girlfriend, how he singlehandedly ran a kitchen and was recently hired into the management track at McD's. Seriously, a meaningful, ambitious, confident, homeless fascinatrix.
09/28 Direct Link
Rolling back from Port St Joe to Panama City, we found Mexico Beach interesting, and several areas nearby where the speculation of the early 2000s took its toll on development dreams. Ghost towns of affluence either lie in waiting for revival, or for ruin. Some areas are coming back, but it is very strange to wander down a lane with street lamps but no houses, driveways but no homes, and cul-de-sacs that turn themselves around. I also have to send a shout out to Gourmet by the Bay, who sells sorbet inside either a pineapple or a coconut.
09/29 Direct Link
This was the last day of the bike journey, riding back to Fort Walton ahead of the storms coming in over the horizon. About four miles from the finish, we had to stop for a cookie and a visit to a nice cool bike shop where I bought some pink bar tape for the handlebars. I'm pretty sure that if a pickup truck had come along offering a ride, we may have taken he or she up on it. Pulling into the campground where the truck was parked, we hooted and hollered loudly. Hello, GMC air conditioning unit with engine!
09/30 Direct Link
There are things that are more important than air conditioned rooms and cool floors and a tub with jets and a microwave. There are things more meaningful than watching movies lying in clean sheets, more powerful than a view of the ocean, more delicious than a margarita by the pool. There are things, dear friend, that money can't buy and that soothe that eternal ache in your soul. But today, after those days on a bike journey practicing what it is like to be outdoors as a way of living, our hotel filled a self-admitted shallow need for comfort.