June 15, 2011
I'm home sick today. "sick day" takes on a different meaning when you don't have to go to work, but the results are the same: stay in your blanket nest all day streaming things on netflix, drinking tea, and feeling a little like you should be doing something more productive than this. also, repeatedly coughing, clearing your throat, or hoping your headache will go away. doesn't that picture of emily dickinson on the kindle look creepy? she looks like she's about to sprout fangs and bite your ear off.
I'm taking a momentary tv-watching break because I think my brain's getting soupy. thought I'd update you on life.
misadventures in cycling
on the list of things I want to accomplish in my time off this summer (a list I'm still compiling; maybe I'll share with you if I manage to get it finished before the END of the summer) is to be more proficient on my bike. I want to be more comfortable riding in traffic, and I'd like to commute more by bike. also, because I'm still rehabbing my hip injury, biking is one of the few activities I'm allowed, so I'd like to do more of it. to that end, last thursday I decided to go out for a 20-30 mile ride along the springwater corridor, a multi-use path that cuts through downtown and parts of SE portland before making its way eastward. I began from the garden, biked a couple of miles on the road, and hit the path.
okay, so let me preface this with a few random points.
1. I loved to ride my bike as a kid. I got my first bike when I was five and liked to pretend it was a horse. I got my first ten-speed when I turned eleven; it was on that bike that I first learned to ride no-handed, and I can remember zipping around the neighborhood without ever touching the handlebars.
2. I didn't do much bike riding in high school or college, but got a mountain bike when I was in grad school, and spent a lot of time with my friend wayne on the trails just outside town. we liked to bike from his apartment to the erie canal trail, which was just a mile or two down the street. then we'd bike 15-25 miles down the canal. we talked about bike camping the entire erie canal but we never did.
3. just last weekend, scott and I went on a short bike ride. as we were leaving, he said, "do you have a spare tube?" and I kind of laughed, because I had no idea how to change a flat. "you should carry one anyway, somebody would help you."
4. last wednesday I went to a bike maintenance class at REI. it was mostly boring as hell, and to be honest I could have learned most of what they talked about by reading an article online. most of the problem was that the instructor encouraged everyone to ask questions, so the class quickly devolved into very specific questions about peoples' very specific bike problems. WHO CARES. but at the end of the class they did a full demonstration of how to change a flat tire.
5. I bought myself a spare tube on the way out of the class.
you of course know what this is leading up to.
so on thursday's jaunt I ended up getting a little overzealous/in love with the weather and I just ... kept biking. once you get out of outer SE the trail becomes more rural, and I was feeling nostalgic for home. there's a bike trail in my hometown just like the springwater corridor and I spent a good deal of time on it as a high schooler, where I'd go down and tube on the river or go for a jog or eat mulberries.
I biked about 15 miles down the trail. finally, about a mile after the trail turned into a gravel path, I turned around and headed for home. I was hungry and I'd forgotten my water, so about 8 miles from my car I stopped at a convenience store and bought a popsicle, an orange soda, and a bottle of water. I stuck the soda in my bottle cage and held the water in one hand as I kept biking.
then, a couple miles later, I started to feel like things were really bumpy. I stopped and looked at my tire, wondering if maybe something was stuck to it. nothing. I rode for maybe another half mile and things just got bumpier and squishier. I stopped and checked again. rear tire = flat.
I mentally noted that the REI guy told us how, for whatever reason, it seemed that rear tires blew out more than front ones.
I was bummed but also a little bit like OH BOY I CAN DO THIS I JUST LEARNED YESTERDAY! I had a tube! and then I remembered: my bike pump, firmly affixed to my bike, was missing the adapter which made it compatible with my presta valves. so even though I had the tube, I didn't have anything to pump the tube with.
as if on cue (and just as scott predicted), a cyclist stopped to ask me if everything was OK. I explained the situation. I told him it was my very first flat and that I'd just learned the day before. I honestly didn't want him to stand there while I clumsily figured out how to change the tire, nor did I want to ask him to change it for me. I figured I was about 3 miles from the car, so in the end, I waved him on. and started walking.
I ended up trudging probably closer to 4 miles with my flat. it wasn't so bad except that I'd only put sunscreen on my face and arms, not my legs, which had already been on the verge of sunburn and got toasted on the return walk. I was frustrated that I had to spend an extra hour escorting my bike home, but also kind of amused that I was having what appears to be a pretty universal cyclist experience.
it turned out, also, that I'd bought the wrong sized tube anyway, so I'm doubly glad I didn't make the helpful cyclist stay.
I was already signed up for this past monday's fix-a-flat class at REI, so I decided to try my hand at doing it from memory/googling and figured I'd either fix it or I'd bring it to the class. it turns out I remembered just fine (it helped that the night before, scott had showed off his flat-changing skills -- he can do it in like a minute and a half!). the hardest thing was putting the damn thing back on the bike.
turning the bike upside down helped, since I no longer had to hold the bike AND figure out how to guide the tire in. then I pumped that sucker up. then I rode on it that night. AWESOME.
is really hurting from lack of sun. AREN'T WE ALL.
you can't see it very well from this picture, but the garlic scapes are just about ready to be cut. the scape is the flowering end of the garlic, and you have to cut it off or else the garlic will put its energy into making a flower rather than into making a bulb.
my peas are finally flowering. they are later than nearby gardeners, which I think is mostly the variety of pea, and potentially also due to not fertilizing.
pole beans: UP! those things are SO satisfying. I swear I planted them like three days before I took this picture.
the monarda survived the cold (and the living under a milk jug) and is beginning to grow. hopefully it will flower this year.
I built a cucumber trellis, and now I'm really hoping the cucumbers will grow. I planted them thinking it was going to stay warm, but we've still had temps in the 40s at night. WHY DON'T YOU JUST SHOOT ME, PORTLAND.
in other garden news, I'm pretty sure my onions aren't going to come up. I can't decide whether I should plant the luffa in place of the onions, or whether to buy some pretty flowers. I have to wait on the luffa (too cold) so we'll see. I'm giving the onions until the weekend to pop their pretty heads out. I haven't seen a single seedling. jerks.
I've been trying to cook more and I made a spring veggie pilaf last week, which included beets. beets are a food I'm desperate to like -- they seem so ... virtuous? -- but I just don't. scott does, though, so I left them in the recipe. well! I kind of loved them. there might be hope for me yet.
they do make things pretty.
on saturday I went to REI's used gear sale (this post should be titled "I <3 REI," apparently). I'd never been before. I stood in line for TWO HOURS (!). but I did end up finding a pair of bike shoes, which is what I wanted. they were $30, brand new. and I couldn't come home without a pair of lightly-used vibrams, which I scored for $4.83. now if only I could run!!
is ongoing. and really effing slow. still not running. I'll tell you about it soon.