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We don’t need Clarence the angel’s help to get our 350 completed license plate applications by January–we need YOURS! We’ve received more than 190 completed applications so far, but we need another 160 this next month to make this dream a reality. I believe, but Friends of James River Park needs all of our members and friends to send applications in today! (Pay with PayPal at www.jamesriverpark.org  and get the application and info)

Here are 5 ways to help us get the plate now:

 #1 Think of the people who have made the park possible–Jack Keith, Jr., Joe Schaefer, Louise Burke, R.B. Young, and so many more. Buy a plate in their honor. I’m giving Louise a plate as a small token of appreciation for her work with her Girl Scout troop and concerned neighbors saving Pony Pasture from becoming a highway in the 1960’s. I’m a Brownie drop-out and I do NOT want to compound that humilation with having to tell Louise that she’ll never get a James River Park System license plate. Let’s get this done! Whom do you want to honor? 

 #2 Please spread the word on Facebook and Twitter. SportsBackers, Dominion RiverRock and our James River Park Facebook page. That will keep the buzz going.

 #3 Ask your friends and neighbors. Have their walks, runs, paddles, and bike rides in the James River Park System given them $25 worth of value this year?  It’s time to give the JRPS a present for all it has done for all of us. 

 #4 If you know of any large-scale event coming up (even in January) where park-lovers would be gathering and we could set up a table to promote the plates, please let us know at friends@jamesriverpark.org and perhaps volunteer to staff such tables.

 #5 For the person who has everything this holiday season, give him or her the promise of beautiful James River Park license plates. It’s a green gift–no wrapping necessary– and it will add park pride to the owner’s vehicle when they receive it in June. They’ll be reminded of you every time they ogle their plates.

 FOJRP believes it is crucial for the Friends to secure this dependable stream of income (once we have 1000 plates on the road, FOJRP gets $15 of every renewal and new application over that) in light of uncertain budgetary times for parks. We have composting toilets, trailhead signs, kiosks, trail markers and more we’d like to purchase and programs we’d like to underwrite so everyone can enjoy the park for years to come. Thanks so much for your help in clearing the first hurdle of our license plate campaign this January.

Being suspended 25 stories above the ground with just a couple of ropes holding you just might though. I thought I’d let the suspense build here on the blog , but no one seemed to care, so here’s a photo: 

No photoshop here....

Take a look at a post with a photo by my pal Amy Trenz on the web site of Richmond Magazine to find out more of what I was up to on Friday afternoon.

The thought occurred to me just after I did the deed that I had now completed the (just invented by me) River City Triple Play. I’ve rafted the Class IV rapids through downtown Richmond on the beautiful James River, I’ve run (and completed) the SunTrust Richmond Marathon, and I’ve rappelled the second-tallest building in Richmond for Over the Edge. Now it’s quite possible that I’m not the only one who can claim this title, but I’m fairly certain that no one will ever complete the little known Richmond Grand Slam (since I just invented it on Friday, too). Complete the three feats mentioned above AND get your statue on Monument Ave!

You will be jealous of my James River Park System Virginia license plates next spring. It doesn’t have to be that way, people. I’ve already put in my order for the prettiest plates that aren’t in town quite yet. You can get our own and not have to drive around behind my cruddy RAV4 ogling my license plates. It’s simple. Click here:  JamesRiverPark_LicensePlate_FAQ11  Read the info, print the Virginia license plate info out, fill it out with your VIN number and such and send in a check for $25 (or $35 for a vanity plate) to Friends of James River Park, P.O. Box 4453 Richmond VA 23220.  Please and thank you.

You can also visit the Friends tent at the South of the James Farmers’ Market in Forest Hill Park this Saturday, Oct. 9th and Saturday, Oct. 30th to chat and pick up park pamphlets ($2) and license plate applications.

When we collect 350 completed and paid for applications (we have more than 100 now), we mosey on down to the General Assembly in January and they approve our special and beautiful license plate. (It might be the only thing the General Assembly will do that will make you happy.)  The plate is then made, and delivered to all those with the foresight to order them, in June 2011.

Yes, you must be patient, but the James River Park System rewards patience–more reliably than state government.  Sometimes you have to wait for the pedestrian to get out of your mountain biking way on the Buttermilk Trail. You have to wait for fall for the sun to set the treetops across the river all aglow near Riverside Meadow. And sometimes you have to wait in line at Pony Pasture in the summer for a parking spot. Nothing wrong with waiting for something worth waiting for.

Besides being able to proclaim your love for the James River Park System, 550+ acres of wilderness in the city (I can steal the Friends’ line cause I’m the president of FOJRP), once 1000 cars are sporting these plates, $15 of the James River Park System license plate fee from each order gets sent to Friends of James River Park, providing our all-volunteer group with a steady stream of income with which to help maintain, preserve, and enhance Richmond’s big backyard.  We have big plans for directional signage at trailheads, our gorgeous and helpful new web site is about to launch (more on that later), and you know quite well that the park is chronically underfunded and understaffed, so the Friends can always find good use for the funds. Don’t be caught in your car with some ugly ole license plate. Park your ride, please!

The other morning I was banging around Shockoe Slip and Bottom taking photos when it occurred to me that I could run a couple of blocks west on East Cary to get up close and personal with the SunTrust building, the 400ft. building I and several dozen other people will be rappelling down Oct 22 and 23rd as a part of Virginia Special Olympic’s Over the Edge Richmond extreme fundraiser.

That's a lot of feet.

I rappelled 90 ft. off a building when I was in high school, and a few times on canopy tours, and once right here in Richmond after treeclimbing with Riverside Outfitters but 400 feet is many more feet than I can get my brain around, much less the rest of my body on board.
This past Wednesday, as a part of the Virginia Center for Architecture’s architectural walking tour series, Look Up! , I saw the, in architect-speak, “extreme verticality” of the Central Fidelity Bank on Broad St. It’s less than 300 ft. Gulp.

Rabbit, rabbit. Ah yes, the silly, superstitious phrase my college friend Amy L. taught me. How is it that that’s one of the main bits I remember from my Jesuit education? Certainly worth many thousands of dollars, no doubt, for all the good it has done me over the years. My parents must be so proud.

I’m not proud that many a morning on the first of a month when I’m up early to use the facilities and say a word or two to my husband and then get back to a half sleep, I think, “Shit, I didn’t say ‘Rabbit, rabbit.'” But then I tell myself that if I say “Rabbit, rabbit” when I truly wake up for the day, it will work as advertised. That probably is true, at least to the extent that it ever could. And then I move on to debating how many angels are dancing on top of that pin. Perhaps the truth is that I’ve never really ever woken up. I’m living in a hallucinatory state where uttering meaningless phrases changes one’s life. I’m tempted to say some funny and biting things about my years of Catholic schooling, but I think I’ll bite my tongue instead. Let’s just say I’ve woken up.

It is your good fortune that I went to Fountain Lake at Byrd Park yesterday with my two sisters and two nephews. Ok, so you didn’t get to ride the pedal boats (or paddle boats, but I did most of the pedaling, hence calling a spade a spade) or eat a boxed lunch from Sally Bell\’s. (And I ate a mocha/chocolate cupcake–of course I did. That was the whole reason for the adventure. Odd that neither of my sisters did. They let  their children eat their cupcakes. Unlucky–and unthinkable for me.)

You are lucky because you are getting a reminder that it’s what you should do this summer if you’re in Richmond. Even on a Wednesday, lots of people were out on the lake, either avoiding the windswept fountain in the middle

Captain Emmet and his crew

or, if you happened to be in the boat with the diabolical Ethan, getting sopping wet. Of course, it was his only shower of the week, so it was well worth it.

no one went down with the ship

Before this most  pleasant outing, my love of Fountain Lake was limited. I had run around it during the Frostbite 15k in January one year and spent a couple of hours manning a booth at It Starts in Parks a few years back. I’ve driven by it and noticed the pedal boats, but was never a believer until the promise of cupcakes sealed the deal. Let there be no doubt that spending $12 for a half hour of boating (as many as 4 people can fit) on a lovely, breezy summer day, knowing that you are at all times within five minutes of cupcakes and egg salad and root beer floats, is my kind of boating. Plus there was an adorable duck family with four little ones paddling (not pedaling) around. Once ashore, we sat overlooking the lake at one of several picnic tables with new and festive umbrellas. By the looks of everyone–age 3 to 80-plus– enjoying the spot, it was their lucky day, too.

I wake up every day thinking I can get everything done I need doing.  Somehow I believe this will be the day I check off thirty seven errands, fifty two emails, two dozen stories, five article pitches, a few children’s poems, and three essays in between planting dozens of annuals, buying more plants, weeding thousands upon thousands of weeds, transplanting 8 million liriope and daylillies, calling several people, organizing my desk, files, and closets, cutting up fruit for my fruit salad habit, making two pans of brownies from scratch for my other habit, and running 100 miles or so. Then sitting down to knit several rows of the throw I’m not making any progress on would be such a relaxing treat. Oh sure, running 100 miles seems slightly unrealistic, but I keep adding up the miles I don’t get around to running every other day and they add up.

I guess this approach makes me simultaneously sunny and stupid. Jim Croce couldn’t save time in a bottle, but it fits nicely in a trash bag.

The other day I spent several hours reading Run by Ann Patchett while I was in the hospital waiting for my husband to  get out of the recovery room after his ankle surgery.  A funny choice as one character’s broken ankle figures in the proceedings. The longer the day went on and the more preposterous the activities Tip, the broken-ankle dude, took part in only a few hours after having his ankle run over by an SUV, the more annoyed I got.  He’s in a cast and on crutches and Percocet just like my husband was over the weekend.  I had a hard time believing anyone, especially anyone as well-connected and well-off as he, would tromp through Boston and Cambridge in the biggest snowstorm since 1978 in such a state, going up and down icy and snowy stairs to show a little girl some dead fish in jars.  Please.  Remind me to berate my husband for lying in bed all weekend with his foot up when I could have gotten some yard work out of him apparently.  I understand why the author set up those scenes, but they were so obviously set up that they grated.

Sure, Patchett writes beautifully sometimes and she may have gotten the Harvard details just so, but I honestly do not see what the reviewers saw in this book–8 million too many coincidences, flat characters, and the wisest, most articulate 11 year old girl known to mankind,  Most of the pain is offstage, and the actual hard work of the healing and reconnecting of the family is glossed over unsatisfactorily. 

All that time hanging around a real hospital and seeing the non-verbal pain charts hanging everywhere that rate a smiley face person as a 1 and adds a grimace or two on the way up to a screaming crazy person at 10 gave me an idea.  For orthopedic pain I think it would make more sense to think in terms of screws: 1 screw a little pain, 2  means more, all the way up to being totally screwed, which is exactly what my poor husband was when he was released at 9 p.m. that night to the care of me, our son and daughter.  Ouch.

So a certain person I’ve been married to for almost 27 years is turning 50 tomorrow.  Last weekend we cycled 50 miles between Richmond and Charles City County in the Cap-to-Cap fundraiser for the Virginia Capital Trail.  It seemed like the right thing to do pre-50. We had planned to run the Carytown 10k with our children in the a.m. tomorrow on the actual birthday, and I was in the planning stages of a group of us doing Fearless Fridays at  Challenge Discovery‘s  University of Richmond Odyssey course–high ropes and zip lines and such. What’s there to be afraid of anyway? That was the idea. Some of my friends thought I was trying to kill the guy, but I was just trying to keep us young (which of course I still am).

Thursday night while I was in Philadelphia for my summa cum laude sister’s graduation from Temple, my husband outdid any of my plans for his birthday by breaking an ankle in three places and tearing a ligament while playing ice hockey.  So now he’s immobilized in bed, a little uncomfortable (as a doctor might say), or in excruciating pain as a normal person might yelp, awaiting surgery soon. Nothing like getting  a jump on his 50th birthday by turning 80 in the interim.  Poor guy.  No more ice or snow for us. No more fun for a while either.

I don’t want to brag but yesterday my husband and I ran the Ukrop’s Monument Ave. 10k and beat all of the women age 9 and under. It really did feel great to walk by the VCU Sports Medicine building on my way to and fro the race and remember that just last year people had to drive me here for appointments with my favorite orthopedic surgeon after my ACL reconstruction. Excellent work all. 

it's more fun to come here not on crutches

As proof of my complete recovery due to the excellent rehab work of the VCU Physical Therapy gals at Stony Point, for the first time ever, I outran a tornado and this awesome gal in a bathrobe and curlers.

looking good

And the best part was that I was running backwards when I took the shot and didn’t trip. I wanted to beat the Confederacy once and for all when I saw a big group of southern belles and generals running ahead, but I honestly don”t know the outcome. 

I did take inspiration from Arthur Ashe as I passed by the statue of him on the way back to the finish–Hard Road to Glory is right. Next year a group of people should dress up as his monument with a very tall Ashe impersonator threatening children with a tennis racket and books. Could be dangerous. It’s too bad it’s the worst statue of the best guy on Monument Avenue. Which brings me to my next point.

In the wake of Ukrop’s disappearing from the storefronts of Richmond in the next couple of months, let’s lobby for a statue of a Ukrop’s courtesy clerk on Monument Ave. Or a Christo-like art event that drapes the city in chicken salad or White House rolls. Either that or let’s get Robert Indiana to whip up an iconic version of the word Ukrop’s like his famous LOVE sculpture.  Gotta LOVE it. Or if he’s not so interested, #1 in the nation VCU sculpture department–get to work!

As of two evenings ago, I can get the heel of my left foot to touch my butt when I work at the typical runner’s quad stretch. Ok, big whoop, but haven’t been able to since Dec. 26, 2008 when I tore my ACL and MCL falling down a mountain. I can’t do the butt-touching on request, exactly (have to warm up first) but surprisingly, I haven’t gotten a lot of requests to do that– except from well-meaning but slightly evil physical therapists who knew damned well that I couldn’t do it after my ACL surgery last year.

So since sitting on my butt either stretching my quads or writing at a computer has been the sum total of my nightlife for a long time, it will be quite an interesting feat for me to write a nightlife chapter for this guidebook we’re all tired of hearing about.  I’m pretty sure I’ve seen the quad stretch incorporated into some fierce dance moves, so I feel much more confident now…..

I’m back!

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