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By | October 13, 2011

After the training, I took a train trip to visit Betsy, a Wandering Wheels cyclist I had met in the spring. We toured around Ottawa, Canada’s capital, on rental Bixi bikes. Like D.C., it’s full of embassies and government buildings

(like Parliament)

and strange public art. We had great conversations, like about how yoga and Christianity are not necessarily incompatible.

Between a group of acroyogis from Edmonton and visiting Betsy, I, at the very least, quadrupled my knowledge of Canadian geography. For example, I hadn’t known that from Ottawa, in the province of Ontario, you can simply cross the river into neighboring Quebec.


The Edmonton crew also had a lot to say about beavers, most of which was probably not true. But, speaking of Canadian stereotypes, the very first person I saw after I got off the metro from the airport was rollerblading down the street with a hockey stick!


By | October 13, 2011

July 10 to 20, 2011
A few days later, I flew to Montreal for the Acro Yoga Montreal level two teacher training.


I was joined by Mara, my teacher and dear friend from San Diego. There were also more friends from San Diego, Tucson, Pheonix, Seattle and Chicago, and of course amazing new friends and teachers.

Jesse and Eugene, of, bring their creative dance background to the practice. It was such an incredible opportunity to study with them!

For Montreal style, we practiced both basing and flying all of the poses. Also, we held poses for a long time to develop strength and ease. Here, Mara flew me in free star for four minutes. We stayed in star for, I think, seven minutes overall.

Colin weighs eighty pounds more than me, so he made me feel like a strong base!

It can be fun to put a bunch of bodies together and see what shape you get.

I loved flying with Christoph when we played in the park!

We also spent a lot of time doing yoga around the city.





There was also a circus festival while we were there. We saw this tightwire walker in a park.


Thanks to the amazing Rachel Dragonfly for taking the best of these pictures.


By | October 13, 2011

June 30 to July 5, 2011

My mom decided she had to take a trip out to Wyoming to visit my cousins and their kids, even if she could only stay a few days, and even if she had just adopted a dog from the pound two days ago. So with Betsy Ross curled up in the backseat, we headed out across the plains.

Betsy Ross, the traveling dog!

My cousin Ed is a pilot, and his brother Matt went to the Art Institute. They grew up in the Chicago suburbs like I did, and their dad, my Uncle Red, was a chemical company executive. Now they all live on Hecht Creek Ranch in Centennial Valley, Wyoming, and raise grass-fed cattle with their families and their dogs. Ed especially looks like he’s been a cowboy his whole life!

Guess which one is my cousin, Ed.

I love visiting them there, and I would love to spend a few months there sometime. Matt and Gina’s kids are still quite small, but Moxie and Gus, Ed and Harmony’s kids, are confident, capable and curious. They’re self-reliant, responsible, strong, and generally make your typical “city kid” look helpless by comparison. Gus leads me on hikes around the property. Moxie shows off the chickens she raises and explains how she sells their eggs at the farmer’s market in town. She describes the dogsled business plan she is working on.

AJ is still little, but he’s ready to fix things, too!

Ed took me out on horseback to check on the cattle. Moxie’s gentle horse got ornery when she realized her rider didn’t know what the heck she was doing. She kept trying to stomp in puddles and splash me, and turn around and go back to the barn. I learned to pull harder on the reins, and I also noticed that Ed rode with his toes turned out, while mine were turned in. What a difference that made! With my toes turned out, I didn’t bounce nearly as hard in the saddle, and I didn’t feel like I was going to be thrown off going up or down hills, either! If this was the only thing my years of practicing yoga and noticing tiny differences in body position got me, it would be enough for me!

We spent the fourth of July at the ranch. Festivities in Wyoming, with a population density of roughly one person per square mile, are different than many places I’ve lived. Everyone gathered on the (only) road through Centennial for a do it yourself fireworks show. There was nothing organized about it. Kids and adults alike lit off bottle rockets and fire crackers large and small. Most went up in the air. Some whistled past the gas pumps. Neighbors asked each other if anyone had seen their kids. Fire fighters stood ready. It was chaos and it was great.

Another highlight of this trip was visiting Jay Eick in Denver. I met Jay when I joined the Gamma Phi Circus in college. He boasted he could teach anyone to juggle in half an hour. I haven’t progressed much since he first taught me, but I can still juggle because of him. Jay had gotten out of the newspaper business a few years back, and is now a full-time working musician. He belongs to five bands and hosts several open mic nights around town. I got to meet his girlfriend, Shannon, who’s terrific. Jay was just as kind, silly and gracious as when I knew him in college. He’s a big advocate for Denver, and I could happily relocate to be near him. Plus, he played the Circus Song he and Bob Carroll wrote for Gamma Phi! I cried through the whole thing.

Circus friends!

Still, I returned to Chicago as planned. My mom and I drove straight through, which was kind of grueling, but satisfying.


By | October 13, 2011


The Chicago skyline reflected in the bean.

The day after I rode 55 miles back from Normal, Katie drove me up north towards Chicago, where she handed me off at a rest area to our mom, driving down from Kenosha, who drove me into the city and dropped me off at the home of Michele Kasuboske and her daughter Siena.

Michele and I have been friends since the third grade, when she moved in around the corner from my house on Curling Pond Court. There were a good a chunk of years in between where we’d barely been in touch at all, but I am so grateful to be able to reconnect with her now.


Here’s Michele and I out on the town!

From her house north of Wrigleyville, I started exploring the city by bike. I rode up and down the lake and hung out at the trapeze school run by college circus friends. I met local acroyogis and found high school friends I’d been looking forward to spending more time with since our reunion last summer. I went to fests and resale shops and free concerts–

like these Mongolian rockers–

and ate gelato and crepes and Italian Ice. I ended up teaching an acroyoga class with a visiting student from Madison when the local teacher hadn’t quite returned from a trip to Indonesia.

There might be no better place than Chicago in the summer.


Of course it is Chicago, so here’s Kyna, a circus friend who happens to also have a lot of free time, and I bundled up when the temperature dropped from 90 to 50 degrees.

Another June day, I had lunch with Bob Kessler, someone I’ve known since the first grade. He mentioned how his Buddhist teacher said this weekend that, if we realized how wonderful things really are, it would be so overwhelming that we could barely stand it. This has been my experience of Chicago so far. It is so great I can barely stand it.

That Sunday, for example, I rode my bike four miles across town to Nature Yoga Sanctuary. There was an acroyoga class, and I was going to meet Tara, who I have also known since grade school. The weather was warm and, frankly, perfect. The trees were green, the sky was blue, and there were bicyclists everywhere. Chicago cyclists are kind of aggressive and make me a little nervous, but I’m so excited there is such a vibrant bike culture here. I got block away from the yoga studio and found the street blocked off for a street festival. A band was playing and people were streaming in.

I felt so much energy from the city!. I was so excited and grateful and full of joy to be part of this beautiful day in this amazing city!

Bob mentioned that the trick then is to feel this way even it’s 98 degrees and humid and you’re feeling crabby. Of course it’s so easy on such a gorgeous day. That is when you move from equanimity to joy.

Acro in Millenium Park on a beautiful day.

Playing Catch Up Again

By | October 13, 2011

Wed, Oct 12, 2011

Well, where have I been since I left off? My dad handed me off to my sister, who took me to her home in St. Joseph, Illinois. That would have been mid-May. It’s a tiny small town just outside of Champaign-Urbana, where Katie and her husband Jared work at the University of Illinois. I spent my time chauffeuring their cat Mackie to the vet, cooking dinners for all of us, getting to know local yogis, biking around, sewing, and shopping.

Almost immediately, I found a skirt at the local farmer’s market that had been thrifted and appliqued. Katie and I both loved it. I bought it and announced my intention to make more. Katie and I rushed to the thrift store and found a pile of skirts I was going to spend all my time transforming. At the fabric store, I tried to judiciously pick a few fabrics for the project. I knew I had everything I needed already, just in storage in San Diego, where I was on a self-imposed fabric-buying restriction.

Katie eased my mind by deciding that if she bought the fabric, I wasn’t breaking my restriction. But having a stack of beautiful fabric is a tricky thing. When you make something, you have to take the risk that it won’t turn out exactly as you envisioned it. Sometimes that’s enough to keep me from starting. I did make a few bags, my fall back project, and two skirts. But it wasn’t quite the burgeoning industry I imagined it might be.

Katie had finally gotten the go-ahead to hire someone in her chronically understaffed office, and if it had been at all possible or appropriate for her to bring me on but not let anyone know I was her sister, I would have happily stayed. After fifteen years on the West Coast, it was so wonderful to spend so much time with my amazing sister. I know I could learn so much from her professionally, too. And I hadn’t even begun to explore all that her university town had to offer.

From my own college experience, I love the idea of Midwestern college towns, with coffee shops, thai food, foreign films and visiting authors and artists mixed with rural landscapes. But I wasn’t ready to stop yet.

As I started planning the next leg of my journey, I tried to figure out how to bike up to Chicago. Having difficulty finding good places to overnight, I felt like my bike traveling skills were already getting rusty. I decided to take a day’s ride to Bloomington-Normal, where I had attended Illinois State. As it happened, Jared was driving to a meeting in Bloomington the day I meant to ride, June 1st, so he drove me and I rode a few miles across town on the Constitution Trail, rather than sixty across the state.

I arranged to stay with Terri Ryburn, an inspiring former professor who has, since she’s retired from ISU, become a stand up comedian, published several plays, and bought an old gas station along Route 66, which she is rehabbing to create a bed and breakfast and historical center.



A little more information about her project is available here:

Besides being generally amazing to be around, Terri gave me a tour of a dramatically changed college campus. My old dorm, Walker Hall, has been replaced by a shiny new recreation center.

Here I am with all that’s left of the former Honor’s Dorm and International House.

There are more, taller apartment buildings around campus, and a big hotel and a traffic circle in the uptown, formerly downtown, area of Normal.

They also have some new, very smart signage!

The Coffeehouse looks exactly the same, except for the new part, which doubles it size. Other campus buildings had been upgraded or were under constrction, and we finally had some ivy growing up the side of one of them.

Avanti’s, with its cheap and sweet Italian Bread, had expanded, but was just as busy and delicious as I remembered. Since the advent of Facebook in particular, I’d been taunted by alumni friends passing through town and posting that they stopped to eat at Avanti’s. Now I was there, too, my belly full of glorious carbohydrates! I later realized that I forgot to have their pizza bread, too. I’ll have to return!

I left Terri’s with a bag of vintage buttons to help with my sewing projects, and feeling energized as a writer as well. That I am only writing this out now is an indication of how quickly I moved in both of those directions. It’s hard to feel bad about accomplishing so little, because I feel I have continued to fill my time so joyfully.

Just So You Know

By | June 10, 2011

The pictures in that last post did not appear sideways when I put them in the post.

Jacksonville, IL update

By | June 10, 2011

Sunday, May 15 to Wednesday, May 18, 2011

We arrived Sunday afternoon in significantly colder weather. Yvonne’s son Mike and his wife Veronica live in Jacksonville with their awesome kids, Myka, Megan and Luka. Luka was wearing a ninja outfit to greet us. “You can call me a Chinese bad guy,” he said.

Monday I biked around town to get my bearings and to try and find some warmer clothes at thrift stores. Between a Goodwill and a Salvation Army, I found two pairs of pants, two long-sleeved shirts and a sweater, though no socks. If I was going to buy some, I wanted to get some striped knee socks, my favorite. This more than doubled the amount of non-cycling clothes I was now carrying with me. As someone who tries to be conscientious about “stuff,” I was pretty amazed how quickly I started accumulating more of it, as soon as I knew I wouldn’t have to carry it with me anytime soon. And how much I wanted to accumulate more.

Jacksonville is small. I put in about eight miles going from one end to the other, including a couple of times around the town square due to confusion. But I was excited to find a yoga studio!

Tuesday, I went to lunch with Dean Welch, the Wandering Wheels cyclist I met on the trip who had also been on O2K with Ben, and his wife Judy. We started out at the Three-Legged Dog cafe on the square, but moved on to the BBQ place a few doors down because it was so crowded. It took a little while, because Dean, who was the Jacksonville pharmacist for year, knew everyone. It turned out he also knew Yvonne from when she had been a nurse at MacMurray College in town, years ago! What a treat to visit with him and talk long-distance cycling, and to hear the news of the rest of the Wandering Wheels trip! It was also fun to visit their beautiful home. They have many lovely art pieces, and many from around the world that remind me of things Ben brought back from O2K.

Later, Dean and I went on a 24-mile ride through the farm country surrounding town. He was great tour guide, filling me in on local industry and local color. We rode past a home where the owner had made his own versions of several war memorials, including the Vietnam Wall and the group raising the flag at Iwo Jima. They were really well done, but one had a little rip, and it looked like they may have been made out of duct tape wrapped around foam!

We returned just in time for me to run over to a yoga class at Inner Harmony, which was great. Then after dinner, Dad and Yvonne and I walked over to the square to see the Clydesdales that had arrived to set up for a weekend festival. Dean and Judy were there, too, making me feel like a local after just two days in town!

During the day on Wednesday, we visited family graves at the cemetery. It was interesting to see some of the older markers. A number of very old ones had also been more recently replaced with modern stones, perhaps due to wear or damage. Unfortunately, now they look less historically intriguing. I took pictures of these two large monuments from a prominent local family, the Strawns.


I later found out they are indeed relatives of my friend, Megan, in Seattle!

Wednesday evening, we drove to Decatur to meet my sister Katie, both for dinner and so they coud hand me over to her, so she could drive me on the next leg of my journey, to her house, in St. Joseph, Illinois.

She was running late, so Dad and Yvonne had plenty of time to fiddle with new smart phones.

This smart phone stuff is serious business!

Myself, Katie and Dad.

I had a wonderful time in Jacksonville. I could imagine living there, at least for a while. Though, so far, I feel I could be happy living practically everywhere I’ve been since November. I enjoy aspects of big cities, and others of small towns. Knowing a few people in town already certainly helps me feel comfortable with a place, as well as finding a yoga studio. So far, I guess that’s my criteria for finding a place to live. That doesn’t narrow it down very much.


By | May 25, 2011

Sunday, May 15, 2011
Perry, KY to Jacksonville, IL

There is nothing like being in the car for two days straight to make you want to get up and do your yoga practice.

My new wheels.

St. Petersburg Update

By | May 25, 2011

May 10 to May 12, 2011

Well, Tuesday, I slept most of the day. If you’d rode your bicycle most of the way from San Diego to St. Pete’s, you’d be tired, too!

My dad helped me patch my three flat inner tubes, and now I feel like I’m pretty good at that, too. He also took apart my camp stove, cleaned it, and put it back together. I hope that will reduce the excessive flaming when I use it. I also got a hold of the company that makes my tent, and they are sending me a new tent pole to replace the one that broke.

In the evening, I visited my stepsister Erin, in Tampa. Her partner, John, is very nice, but of course the main attraction is her wonderful six-month old, Fiona! She is lovely, adorable, good-natured, and looks cute in a tutu. She also knows Glee is the best show on television. What more could you ask?

Erin and Fiona

Me and Fiona

Both of us and Fiona

On Wednesday, I went for a 23-mile bike ride out to Ft. Desoto, which is at the end of a spit of land with the bay on one side and the gulf on the other. The fort was closed for repairs, but the snack bar was not, so I had ice cream for lunch. Luckily, it was hot day, or I might not have broken a sweat riding without all of my gear. What a lovely feeling! Speeding along, winding my along a twisty bike path, whoosh! Whoosh! But other riders still passed me.

With some conscious effort, I realized I could actually ride faster. My body still is acting like I’m riding a weighted down bike, even when I think I’m not. So that was fun, to be even a little more speedy. I know I’ll never be a racer.

In the evening, I went to a Vinyasa class at a local yoga studio. There was an awful lot of stopping and taking breaks for a flow class. But the space was calm and held good energy, and I’ve certainly been doing yoga long enough to make up for any teacher’s lack of instruction. It seemed like this teacher just needed a little more confidence to adjust students’ positions. At least it wasn’t a hot yoga class, as were most of the local classes I could find. I enjoy a hot yoga class now and then, but not when it’s already 90 degrees and humid outside.

The last time I was at my dad’s house, I accidentally ran through their screened door and knocked some of my grandmother’s china off the wall. This time, I managed not to break anything, and on Thursday, Dad, Yvonne and I headed to Lake Istokpoga to pick up the fifth-wheel trailer from it’s seasonal, bass-fishing home.

So Much For That

By | May 14, 2011

Monday, May 9, 2011
Inglis to St. Petersburg, FL
About 90 miles, driving
5 miles tooling around the neighborhood

At 10:00, Connie and I put my gear in her car. She was heading to Spring Hill, about 40 miles south. With the bump from driving, I could be in St. Petersburg tonight! We noticed that my front tire was flat again. I’d have to fix it when she dropped me off.

We left, and immediately had to take a detour. There had been a serious accident on the bridge about 8am, and they didn’t expect to open it again til noon. I was glad I hadn’t been riding there then.

As we drove, we compared notes on our sabbaticals, and thought about what might come next.

Connie left me off at a 7-11. She had a full day ahead of her. I gathered my gear on the sidewalk and fixed the tire, pulling out a piece of wire that looked just like the piece of wire I pulled out yesterday. It was close to noon, so I figured I should have some lunch. The pizza at the 7-11 looked good, so I got two pieces. Then I got two donuts for good measure. If this was going to be my last day of riding, then I would have to go back to my non-biking eating habits. Best to take
advantage of it now.

As I sat outside eating, a woman locked her keys in her car. I offered her my phone to call AAA, and then she realized her card was also locked in the car. She used my card to call, as well, which caused a bit of confusion, because they were wondering if she was in California, but they figured it out. In the last six months before I left San Diego, I had locked my keys in my car twice, which I never do, so I was glad for the chance to help.

We were chatting as I ate and she waited for the door guy, and she said, “Oh, you have to fix your flat tire first.”

“No, I just did,” I said, then I looked at my bike. It was flat again already and I hadn’t rode one inch since I fixed it! Patty immediately offered to take me to St. Petersburg.

Once again, I thought, I am not going to say no to that. I had just used my last new inner tube, and I was not having any luck finding the tiny wire holes in order to patch them. I didn’t want to spend the rest of my day unloading and reloading my bike and struggling with the tires or going who knows how far out of my way to find a bike shop. On top of that, it was already 1:00, which was rather late for me to be just starting a 50 to 60 mile ride. With someone standing in front of me offering a ride the rest of the way, I took it.

The AAA guy came and went quickly. Patty wondered why she didn’t just get one of their little air-bladder contraptions herself in case she locked herself out of the car again. Though, if you had one, it would probably be locked in the car when you needed it.

I could not thank her enough. “I’m a Christian,” she said. “I know God has a plan for us, and we don’t always know what it is.” I said that, though I am not a Christian myself, I am experiencing events in the same way she is. Whether or not these signs are there for a reason, they are there for me to follow. Patty had been working in the morning, but decided to change her schedule to go in and do the evening closing shift. That left her time to do errands during the day, which she was heading north to do. But as she stopped at the 7-11 for gas, she had already decided to put off those errands for another time and to turn around and head back south. And then we met.

We talked about religion and communities and schools and other interesting things as we drove. Patty also told me about her plan to ride her motorcycle across the country when she retired, which could be as early as the next year. I was glad to be able to offer a little inspiration in this regard.

And then we arrived at my dad’s house, and that was the end of my trip.

Patty and my gear in my dad’s driveway.

I may not have biked to the very end, but I followed the path as best I could. Where will it take me next?