gollum, gollum

Today:

Play

The kids, playing together. They got wise to me taking pictures and giggled and ran off, thinking I was going to grab at their little toes. I would never!

Fabric in the mail, spoils of my testing work! The contents of one of two packages:

FAVRIC
From mid-left (green sliver) clockwise: leaf green cotton mini-corduroy, woven Irish linen mini-houndstooth, Very Wang wool rayon (so. soft), Hooty Hoot flannel (Hooty Jacks), Retro Rocket Scientist flannel (green on black), cotton canvas fabric (chocolate brown), cotton canvas fabric (deep amethyst), linen/cotton (dark grey), linen/cotton (melon).

Then off to downtown Hoquiam in the (cold!) sunshine. We took Ralph’s bike to the bike shop as his chain was¬†seizing – and stopped at the River Landing too.

Little Guy On The Hoquiam River

Terry (Bike Shop Guy) measured ¬†the chain and oiled it and put air in the tires and wouldn’t let me pay him anything, then opened the door for me in a very chivalrous manner. When I got home I even hex-keyed Ralph’s bike seat back to the (improbably high) position he uses. Partly because this was nice to do for Ralph, partly as a passive-aggerssive hint because when he uses my bike he always neglects to do the same (I love [ /sarcasm ] getting on my bike after he uses it just to get high-crotched in a most alarming and painful fashion!).

It gets so dark so early and we “sleep in” – so the Hogabooms aren’t getting as much daylight as we need. However the beautiful fall weather, although cold (for me), is lovely to venture out in.

Guilty

Awesome: I… Biked That!

I ended up determined to bike from Vance Creek Park to the Satsop nuclear power plant today – the latter abandoned and now serving as some kind of odd industrial / half-assed business park, but infinitely more recognizable to those heading to the beaches as semi-iconic twin towers (my friend’s grandmother used to call them “ladies’ girdles”). My father had told me about this bike ride; Ralph and I had attempted it about a year or two ago (with kids in bike trailer) but after what seemed like a long slog we thought we’d gone off the track, so we cut it short.

I don’t know why I made this trip the point of our day. I know I wanted to find and finish the route my father had told me about. I wanted to get some fresh air and exercise. I wanted to be close enough to these giant towers – I’d never seen them in the flesh before – to touch them. I didn’t want to bike; I wanted a goal destination.

So here I set off with plenty of water, food, sunscreen, and my two children, the eldest installed on her own bike. I had no idea of my route or the distance required or if we’d turn around after only a couple miles. I remember my father saying something about “13 miles” – but I didn’t know if he meant round trip, or one-way. I’d also heard him mention an ascent for the last part of the journey – and this worried me. For my father to even mention a hill meant the hill was likely ass-kicking.

Sophie didn’t enjoy the first leg of the trip, an admittedly mildly-unpleasant run accompanied by the sounds of highway car travel. In just a mile however all signs of highway traffic had disappeared and we were in a lush farmland. The children exclaimed in joy – tree farms, cows, verdant meadows, the river, a huge group of pheasants gibbering and running about. Very few feral dogs, thank goodness. I kept saying, “See those towers? That’s where we’re going.” Sophie asked if we could turn around. I said, “No, I think we can do it.” After a while we both believed it.

The trip went on. And on and on. And then: up and up and up. I began to doubt my worth as a parent to drag my girl up this hill in the scorching heat. After a while I was saying, “We’re almost there,” because I could not imagine climbing more than we were climbing. Food trucks passed; Schwans, Fiesta. OK, so, wherever we ended up, there were other people there. The road was not busy but when people did speed past their faces were smiling or their mouths in an “o” shape – I swear my Xtracycle looks like a jalopy, loaded with tow-headed gap-toothed kids and a big grass basket and my body all muscle and fat rolls getting us up the hill.

At the last steep ascent, as we walked it in blistering sun, Sophie said, “When we get to that sign…” and I thought she’d say we were turning around, but instead she said, “I’m getting back on.” We rounded the corner and there it was – close enough to touch the tower, a monster, and a triumphant sail down and up the last dip, as fast as we could both do it. The kids loved how the tower burst out of the greenery; I had tears in my eyes. No photograph (and there are many online) can encompass the feeling of being dwarfed by these massive towers, or my elation that myself and my two wee children had made the trip on our own, the seven-year old on her own steam.

There wasn’t much else to look at, a few employees, a few forklifts. The view was incredible; we’d been biking steadily uphill for the last third of the ride and were surrounded by the mountains and the greenscape that make the area so lovely.

Just as we’re coasting triumphantly along the summit of the hill, about to settle at a picnic table for lunch, the unimaginable (or the shockingly predictable) occurs: Sophie’s back tire shreds. Which is funny, because my LBS practically gave me this bike and those tires were balder than a newborn baby’s ass, and I remember thinking, really? regarding the tires, but I trusted they’d be OK. Of course Sophie puts miles on her bike like no seven year old I’ve met.

As the kids ate (fresh fruit salad, black forest ham on french rolls, Doritos, water and more water, chocolate covered raisins) I pondered my options. I could find someone in the business park and phone Ralph, whom I could count on to find a way to rescue us; who would have bought us a new bike to return on had I asked. Better, though, to make it back on our own. Sophie obligingly got on the ruined bike tire to see if it could go – she said it “wasn’t much different”, but of course, it was not rideable. So it was down to me. Well, I could do it. Or have a really shitty time trying.

As the kids finished eating I put the front tire of her bike in my pannier and bungeed the stem to my V-rack. Sunscreen, extra clothes, water, basket – all loaded up – even more Joad-like than before, with a third wheel and extra kid clinging on. Then we were off. I painfully rememberd two large hills on the return trip; I couldn’t let them slow me down too much or I’d feel defeated. We went down the dips before the uphills fast; I put the bike into gear and cranked it, making a surprising amount of momentum for the uphill. Then when we’d be on the upswing my kids (unasked) would hop off and walk the few feet to the summit as I granny-geared it, then just when it was prudent for them to be on they would jump back on. I never had to stop. Sophie turned herself backwards to position herself for any oncoming cars (while on this trip the kids came up with a code – cars coming from behind us: “Incoming!”; cars travelling towards us: “We’ve got company!”). I may have done all the pedalling for the return trip but it was a team effort. It felt wonderful.

At about 4:45 we rolled back to the park to my mom’s old pickup. The best part of the trip is that the kids and I were still laughing as we finished. No trail of tears here; we’d made it.

All in all, we biked over 15 miles. My dad would have been proud.

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).

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.