the sun is in the sky oh why oh why

It felt like I kept running into beautiful people today. First, there was the trip to work with my kids:

Precious Cargo
Nels is all smiles about ten minutes before he and I had a huge throwdown involving taffy. Photo by Sophie.

Cat Wants In
Did I mention the cat rode on the trunk of my car a city block yesterday when I left? Here he has just been rebuffed in his efforts to join us. Packed in the bike: swimgear for three, embroidery project of Sophie’s, spices for today’s soup, my purse, various warm hats.

After I took this picture I pulled into the neighbor’s back driveway to get out of the way of the alley. The neighbor soon emerged and eyed me askance as I packed. I explained I’d be on my way in a minute but she looked unfriendly and unconvinced. Sometimes I think people are really boggled by the amount of kid-age on the bike; I get a lot of stares. 90% of them are friendly, but not always. I look forward to the day when many, many more people carry many more things on bikes on many more of our roads.

Kelly + Coffee + X = Heaven!
Ralph bought me a new coat; I’ve had the same outdoor coat since my marriage, given as a gift. I like this one much more. It certainly makes me visible! Photo by Sophie.

Riverside, HQX
We’ve had a series of lovely sunny days for much of winter. And here I’d been bracing for rain. Sophie again operating the camera.

Docs + Fishnets + Bike
Our footgear. We borrow a digital camera; I look forward to one day owning one, especially in light of what great fun the kids seem to have in clicking away.

Today's Destination!
About to embark on a very busy shift at work. This is another rare smile of Nels’ this morning as we had yet another fight inside. After work I took my boss’ boy K. to the YMCA; lugging even more weight on the bike. Ralph brought Nels over from school and the three kids swam and swam and swam. We got home well after five.

i’m turning heads in good ol’ G of H

This afternoon I biked the kids all the way to Cosi to meet Ralph in time for Suse’s soccer game. OK, it’s only eight miles (she says, modestly) but it’s a rockin’ eight near bisected by the most horrifying, awful bridge I’ve yet had to navigate. <shudder!> I was so very proud of the kids, though. They are cycling experts who make me very, very proud to ride with them.

So in short, major PWNAGE. On all y’all who drove cars today.

Today I talked in depth to two different people about my X and several more commented in passing or yelled out (compliments) as I whizzed by. And this is just the pedestrians I saw – who knows what the car drivers might have been thinking (“Get your fat ass off my roadway!” is one possibility).

I’m also, humiliatingly, adding more bells and whistles (actually bells and lights) to the X and hope to build (or have a friend build, or help me with) a rain canopy to keep the kids somewhat dry in the upcoming Assy Weather Season. With these additions to our SUB I will be further regaling my community soon with my antics / heroics (depending on what your views are on human-powered transportation).

a case of overwhelm

Today I worked at the eatery I was first employed at over seventeen years ago. It was a welcome break – very hard work, though. My children were coincidentally on a zoo trip with friends so I was almost a single gal for a few hours. This evening I got home (two and a half hours later than I’d originally thought I would) and unzipped my boots and stripped down to my slip and ran a bath – like a regular waitress.

While waiting tables today three men I knew from town unexpectedly consoled me regarding my father’s loss. I wonder if my mom relates to my feeling of faking it, of floating through life looking “normal”, feeling like a half-ghost. On one hand I am able to graciously accept their condolences and hear their remembrances – and in this case, record their food orders without pad and pen – and on the other hand I’m a broken person who isn’t about to talk about how I really feel – not to strangers and yeah, sometimes I don’t really feel like talking about it to friends or family, either.

Tonight when I got home a friend – herself recently widowed – brought us some home-cooked food. I told her thank you, for so many reasons but one being that it feels like the rest of the world will move on and I will somehow never do so. My friend said, “It never gets better,” and – herself a very reserved person – began to cry. She waved and smiled and left as fast as she could. We’re at my mother’s house now reheating the delicious food and waiting to share it with a friend. The kindness of this food is appreciated, as is

when I got home tonight I also found out that a friend (who wished to remain anonymous) paid off the remaining balance on Sophie’s bike at the bike shop. I found this out because my sister also bought me a bike-related gift the same day.

All in all, an overwhelming (bad and good) last twelve hours.

"She – she will help me – the housewively one. Hi, Betty!"

I’m a member of ten Yahoo groups (three I really need to leave), but this one sends a precious little bit of cargo my way every now and then:

My family has enjoyed the original – The Lost Skeleton of Cadavra – watching it a couple times a year for a few years now.

In other news, I have been given the honor of distributing an excellent publication, The Practical Pedal. It is one of my goals to spread the love of practical cycling (that is, cycling for everyone) in my little nook of Grays Harbor.

i’m not going to tell you all the gory details, but yeah there was some suckiness

"Do They Like Riding On The Bike?"

This Is How We Do It

Sometimes your day is just kind of lame and difficult, and what’s worse, you are forced to realize how limited you are as a person. And it’s my personal theory that when you become a parent, if you’re a parent who tries your best (as most probably do), this “limited as a person” thing hits you right in the nose far more often than feels comfortable.

I head out at noon with the following bike load: myself and two children, three coats, my purse, a huge batch of library books, and a birthday package for my brother. Downtown after meeting with my parents I’ve relieved myself of books and birthday package but have now picked up an antique globe (yeah, yeah, WTF?, I know!) and some trail mix. On to the bus to the grocery store in Aberdeen to pick up the following: asparagus, carrots, cucumber, half a cantelope, half a red cabbage, 1 pound tofu, one lime, 1/2 gallon organic milk, shampoo, conditioner, tea tree oil, 2 large boxes baking soda, and a large bar of olive oil soap. To the feed store for bulk catnip and chick feeders.

As I suspected, putting the Xtracycle on a bus meant that one of the Transit personnel got in a dither (“Oh, I don’t know if that will work…” yes it will work, I’ve seen it work,), fussing around and generally getting in the way of me practicing lifting the (rather heavy) load up where it needed to be. The bike is extra long so in order to fit it on a bus I have to take off the front wheel and load it on the back in the pannier – I admit it looks a bit suspicious to the narrow-minded.

I love the glimpses of people, neighborhoods, life that bicycling affords. In Hoquiam and Aberdeen we have a lot of semi-dilapidated or sometimes merely “well-worn” houses where people are just concentrating on living. In the hot afternoon I see my neighbors out on their front porches smoking, or two little girls who’ve rigged one of those giant trampolines with a sprinkler. People smile and stare at my bike and the large children dangling off the back. A rough-cut man in multiple trenchcoats shouts out, “Nice socks!” (they’re not socks but makeshift legwarmers out of sleeves of a sweater I got off Freecycle). We see lots of kitties and talk about the names of flowers in full bloom.

In Hindsight
(Later in the day, legwarmers and coats left behind).

Lake Quinault Explorers
Ralph took the kids to Lake Quinault yesterday. I was sort of dis-invited, but it worked out well enough for me to have some time to myself in the house.

flowers bloom for everyone, rich or poor, great or small

Last night we attended my daughter’s kindergarten concert at the HQX high school’s theater. It was glum and cold-ish at 6 PM when we biked up and then down a huge, steep awful hill to get there. I had to walk the bike both up and down – the “down” was at such an incline I didn’t feel I could safely mount the bike and have Sophie do the same. And in my tippy Danskos at that with middle school students gawking. I don’t think so.

The school concert was like being slammed into my own childhood, only I was a Mommy now. It was a familiar experience in some ways but alien in others. Parents, grandparents, siblings, friends, teenagers on chaperoned pseudo-dates filled the seats to overflowing. When the kindergarteners filed onstage parents a sweetness filled the room as parents began rising out of their seats to joyfully signal their own children (whom they’d just dropped off minutes before in the band room). With the hum in the air the rising and falling of parents in their seats reminded me of butterflies lifting and falling out of a swaying meadow. My daughter was in the first group out and the only child to, as she walked, turn and throw her head up to wave with confidence; they were all there to see her.

My son sat in rapt silence, bundled in his coat with his hair falling in his eyes, his gaze fixed on his sister and her big moment. Ralph got there late and snuck out after her performance to meet a friend. And a mere forty five minutes after we took our seats I was biking the kids home in the wet spring evening. We made pizza together in the kitchen and I hung Sophie’s dress back up in her closet. Finis.

it’s sprung!

vintage ad 1958
Originally uploaded by sixtiesbooks

Yesterday I put this year’s first load of clothes on the line and they were dry within hours. Today, walking (to check out a house my mother is interested in), biking and gardening all while wearing a new (gifted) spring skirt, t-shirt, and sandals – it just feels amazing. Ralph built up two garden beds and we have runner beans, cherry tomatoes, broccoli, sunflowers, amaranth and a handful of other flowers (gifted from Abbi) to put in beds tomorrow, not to mention seeds to start (peas, carrots, lettuce, onions, beans, and more flowers). The kids are in spring spirits too, having their first dirty-feet day of the season and staying up late.

Tonight: first bonfire of the season, including sleeping bags, quilts, and snuggling.

"for pennies a day!"

The Magical Froot
Tonight we have guests for dinner. I’m making a bunch of Mexican food including camarones, a defiant seafood purchase (Ralph hates anything that flops around in the ocean – except, oddly, tuna sandwiches – the more ghetto the better).

Yesterday I biked a little over nine miles with the kids – and groceries. My trip got heavier and heavier, and windier and windier (the rain was pretty much a constant). Plus there were these bright ideas I had at the middle Swansons of picking up – on a whim – self-rising flour, buttermilk, and tinned goods – thereby adding massive amounts to my payload.

Almost Halfway But Need One More Child

I had a dream last night my Xtracycle was up and running. It was almost pornographic.