Friday, August 17, 2007

To stay positive during this involuntary estrangement from my fiancé, I've been enjoying all the things about home that I missed while I was away. I got to go to the Ann Arbor Art Fairs in July, and in another month, there's the Black Swamp Art Festival. And this month, there's the fair.

This is the week of the Pemberville Free Fair--one of the last free fairs in Ohio. The fair is starts with the Kiddie Parade on Wednesday night at 6:30. Kids from all over NW Ohio ride through the parade, and the winners will kick off the Grand Parade on Saturday at 1:00. Nothing about this has changed since I was a kid, and very little has probably changed since my dad was a kid. Even the prize money for the Kiddie Parade winners hasn't changed. (It probably should soon--$10 or even $20 split between four or five kids doesn't go very far.) Oh, wait, it's not true that nothing has changed. When I was a kid, we didn't throw candy at the Kiddie Parade; in fact, I think it was in the rules that you weren't supposed to. Now kids get almost twice the candy--the Grand Parade on Saturday has been a sugar giveaway since I can remember.

The best part of the Kiddie Parade, when you're a kid, is getting to dress up and have people admire you (and your mom's skill, since she's the one who made the costumes to begin with). This is a picture of my cousins, my sister Sarah and me from when we were participants; I think we were on the front page of the newspaper the next day (even though we only got 3rd place). We remember being absolutely miserable in these costumes--I was itchy, Kim was hot, Brandi was hot and could barely move, and Sarah's shoes were too small. But we've all agreed since that this picture was worth the discomfort. One year saw us on a bed/float as Peter Pan (me), Wendy (Brandi), John (Kim), Michael (Sarah) and Tinkerbell (Katie) and several years later as Jem & the Holograms.

But it's fun to watch, too. This year's participants were especially creative and elaborate. Some of our favorites included a police chase, chocolate chip cookies, an old-fashioned ice cream cart, and Portage River pirates:

Thursday, July 05, 2007

My family--Dad, Mom, my sister Katie & I--ride in an MS 150 ride called Bike to the Bay in Northwest Ohio. Our team, which includes friends as well, is called The Team ON YOUR RIGHT, so named because we are one of the slowest (perhaps the slowest) team on the ride, and polite riders will call, "On your left!" to let us know that we're about to be passed. (Our average speed: 12 mph.)

The Team ON YOUR RIGHT at the end on Saturday: Eileen, John, Bobby, Katie (behind), Cindy, Carl (behind), Jena (me), Peggy.

I'm a little biased, I know, but our team is fantastic. We laugh a lot. We sing a little. And we motivate each other--to go faster, or to just keep going. (Before the last rest stop on Sunday, this is really important, because that's where the hills are--real hills, not just overpasses. This year we were lucky enough to have a cop in the intersection who waved us through the red lights, which was wonderful because when you're going uphill, you don't want to lose any momentum because of a traffic light.) And we seem to be developing a trend where the team adds people on the ride. Peggy unofficially joined the team halfway through the ride last year, and officially joined it this year. We met Dick this year, who has ridden every year since the Northwest Ohio MS 150's started. He usually rides with his daughter, but she wasn't able to this year, so he was going it alone. (Alone on a ride through generally flat NW Ohio landscape isn't especially fun.) So he finished the first day with us this year, and met us at breakfast the next morning to ride back with us. We hope he (and he daughter) join the team next year.

Peggy & Dick & Bobby were interviewed by a Port Clinton reporter at the end of the first ride, and we found our team mentioned in the Port Clinton News Herald on Monday.

The women stretch out in Gibsonburg. (This is the stop with the popsicles--and when it's a hot day, they've been known to have a sprinkler running for riders to go through. We
re grateful that the weather was just about perfect this year--not too much wind comfortable mid-70's temps.)

Shoulder rub chain at the second to last rest stop on Saturday.

This is at the pancake breakfast on Sunday morning at Port Clinton High School. We love this--you stand back and catch your breakfast. It's not unusual to have a few pancakes on the floor (but people this year were really good about picking up what they missed and throwing them away). This year, she actually scolded you if you tried to walk up and have her put the pancakes on your plate.

The Team ON YOUR RIGHT (minus Peggy) enjoying barbecue chicken at the end of the ride on Sunday.

Our first (and at this moment only) team shirts were ordered a few years ago. Apparently John was left in charge of ordering the shirts, and when we received them, some of us were appalled to find ourselves holding safety green team shirts. But there was definitely no losing each other in a crowd... Until last year when the Bike to the Bay shirts were all safety green. We saw a couple of other team shirts that were also "our" color, so now we're trendsetters.

In order to do this, we each raise at least $200 for Multiple Sclerosis research and support (though we aim for more like $500). And then we ride, usually about 80 miles the first day and 75 the second (according to our odometers). The route begins the first day at the Maumee Rec Center and ends at Port Clinton High School. Many riders pitch a tent and camp on the campus for the night, but this year some friends of Mom and Dad's housed us for the night. In my first five rides, we stayed in a hotel suite, where we could park the bikes in the kitchen. (I've been unable to ride the last two years, because last year I was in Canada with Roger and the year prior, my sister's and cousin's weddings were the weekend before and the weekend of. I suppose they must miss a few riders every year because of June weddings.)

Of course, this isn't something one can normally do without training. In the past (this was Mom & Dad's 10th ride, and Katie's & my 6th) we've trained mostly on weekends, riding no fewer than 25 miles round trip per ride, and in the couple weekends before, riding more like 50-60. Our preferred route is riding from Pemberville to Bowling Green, then hopping on the Slippery Elm Trail and riding to North Baltimore, where we stop for a snack before making the trip back to Pemberville. That's about a 56 mile ride by the time we're back in the driveway.

The training is almost harder than Bike to the Bay itself, because we don't stop much along the way. On Bike to the Bay, we have rest stops every 10 miles or so. This year, they were exceptionally well stocked with fresh fruit, granola bars, power bars, ice-cold Gatorade, cookies and a myriad of other healthy--or not--snacks. Traditionally, the last rest stop before we reach Port Clinton offers brownies. One year they weren't there and it seemed to be one of the hot topics of discussion for all the people waiting in line for the Olive Garden spaghetti dinner or a massage. I think lots of people must have commented on their feedback forms (we certainly did), because the next year, the brownies were back--and more boxes of them than we remembered. And this year, the brownies made a surprise appearance at the second rest stop in Tontogany. We've joked about putting "We ride for the brownies!" on our team T-shirts.

And you never know what you're going to see when you're training. Two weeks before Bike to the Bay, while training, we rode past a tree with a baby/juvenile bald eagle sitting on top. (I love how Mom always seems to have her camera.) That day, we also saw a red fox running across the field and we watched a motorcyclist refuse to be pulled over. The cop told us that people had been complaining about this large group of motorcycles that recklessly zipped past their homes. The rider that he had been following was just one of many--the rest of the group had turned onto another road.

The next weekend, we rode past a rather elaborate traffic stop--there were probably half a dozen motorcycles pulled over, and the cops had blocked the road. I wonder how fast they were going...

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

All right. I've decided that you're all going to have to wait to hear about our cross country road trip, because our notes are scattered--half in BC and half here with me, and even though it's going to be a while yet before we start telling those stories, I can at least let you know what I'm up to while waiting for Canadian officials and/or border guards to come to their senses. Our lawyer has informed us that even though it seems to make sense to ask the CIC about immigration and to run situations like ours by them--the trip home to introduce fiancé to the family, border crossing questions, etc.--it was really our first mistake. She says we received some really, really bad advice. Even though receiving the same advice from three or four different offices would seem to be an affirmation that we were doing everything appropriately, the people answering CIC phones have no idea about the border guard regulations because the two have become separate entities.

Look for details here--every now and then--about my life back in Ohio. (Sometimes I swear I'm turning back into a 16 year old.) Soon, pics and stories about: seeing Chris Crutcher, one of my favorite young adult book authors; attending Claire's Day, a day that celebrates readers, authors and the memory of a little girl; our Bike to the Bay ride; and the Ault family Fourth of July (which this year is planned for July 1). I just have to get some pictures from the camera into the computer...

Oh, and I bought my wedding ring, even though we don't know yet when or where the wedding will be. I finally found a ring I like, and so as least that detail is taken care of. For those who for some reason didn't know this--and I thought I was practically shouting it from the rooftops, but many people have been surprised--yes, Roger and I are getting married. Despite what the border guards at the Peace Arch crossing think or said. (I will try not to sound horribly bitter in future posts. After all, I have only had a bad experience with one particular border crossing, and have found other border guards/crossings to be at least polite, and once or twice even close to friendly.)

It will not be a big wedding. I doubt very much that I will be in anything that anyone would consider anything close to a traditional wedding dress. In fact, I expect that there will be little truly traditional about it. I don't even expect to have a guest list or a party, really. But we'll see how it all comes together.

Right now, all I want more than anything else in the world is to be in the same space as Roger. We haven't seen each other since January, in large part because it would be cruel to come together for a week or two just to have to be separated again, and in small part because it's at least a $2,000 trip for just one person, and we have an immigration lawyer to pay now...

In case you're wondering what I'm filling my days with, I'm mostly reading and doing a few freelance editing jobs. In my head I keep hearing the sneering border guard telling me to go back to the states and get an apartment and a job, and it grates on my nerves because it doesn't make sense to do that. First, no one around here wants to hire someone who will only be here for a few months, and second, though there are plenty of short term projects I would probably qualify for, I'm not willing to relocate. (How much sense would it be to move into my own place for a mere few months with all of my independent living supplies in Seattle? It would cost as much as I would make to set up house again.) Besides, while I'm not allowed to be with my fiancé, I want to get in as much family time as I can. I miss them when I'm in BC.

Clearly, I'm on the verge of ranting. I'll be back in a few days with pictures and anecdotes.

Saturday, March 03, 2007

A lot has happened since Roger and I went back to Ohio for Christmas so that he could meet my whole family and all of its fun chaos. We drove from BC, and we took pictures and had lots of adventures, so updates are coming, I swear. (You won't want to miss this.)

But, sadly, we've run into a huge bump in my moving to BC, because despite all that we did to ensure we were following a proper order for our return, Canadian border guards decided that I was not allowed to go back with my love. That is a long, crazy and infuriating story in and of itself (which I may or may not tell you), but suffice to say that I am currently back home in Ohio at my mom and dad's. (They've been so very wonderful about the whole thing.)

I just thought that I should post a note to let you know that I have not abandoned this blog, and I will be posting pictures and stories in a few days. Check back soon!