Ride Like the Wind, Even When Stationary

Photo: Deep-Seated FearsI’m told that once one learns to ride a bicycle, the innate sense of balance and knowhow to do so is easily reawakened after a long interval, the moment one gets back on the thing. Which, if it proves true, will be a boon to me after all of these years of not even owning such a contraption. Though that’s not entirely true; I merely own one that travels only in my interior world—an exercise bike.

This could be considered a concession to the oft-overheated world of Texas, where I find it hard to get motivated enough to stroll from the front door to the mailbox on a typical summer’s day let alone do something as strenuous as pedaling at speed on a bicycle. It could be considered a mere kindness to all who would rather not see me teetering on the brink of disaster no matter what my speed, let alone have to try to navigate safely around me. It could even be considered a cheapskate solution to the expense of bikes nowadays relative to what I remember paying for my first grownup sort of bike.Photo: A Whole Rack of Bikes

The latter, however, is quickly canceled out when you know how much indoor, stationary bikes for exercising personages really cost. They’re just as outrageous in price as any that can tootle down the roads. At least, this one was. But the big difference in price is in the personal health, safety, and well-being of this particular rider and all who are freed from the dangers of surviving my biking skills should I hit the actual pavement. I am not in danger of heat stroke on this baby, since it sits in the bedroom not far from the convenient ceiling fan, should I go so far as to break a sweat or simply fall into an unwelcome hot flash mid-ride. It stays upright, no matter whether I am properly centered on the seat or pedaling evenly enough or paying reasonable attention to the terrain, or not. In fact, I can lean back on its amply cushioned recumbent seat with my iPad or laptop propped on my midsection, reading articles and watching video and blithely ignoring anything to do with my steadily cycling feet without any fear of riding off a cliff or into a vortex-like pothole.

And nobody will ever have to see me in bicycle shorts. Period. You can thank me now.

Do I miss real bicycle riding? I can’t say that I do. When and if I live in a climate where I feel comfortable mounting up on one of the real-thing bikes again for a genuine outdoor ride, I will likely enjoy the change of scenery enough (barring any strenuous terrain, because I am a lazy cuss) to make it worth my while. Until then, I’m quite content to pedal furiously, or as leisurely and gently as I like, around the confines of a square meter or so of my own bedroom, ogling digital scenery or perhaps, if the bird feeder is freshly filled, a few wrens, cardinals, and chickadees whose chatter is probably about the crazy bicycling lady on the other side of the window who is obviously so feeble that she’ll never catch up with them.Photo: Red Bicycle No. 2

Natural Cycles & Unnatural

For my arachnophobic friends out there: hurry past the first illustration–I think spiders are pretty, but I understand that you do not!

digital photocollageShort Term Shelter

Under the porches of the house,

amid the floor joists, posts and beams,

cobwebs and dust, dead mice and dreams,

there is a corner one last mouse

still nests in, where a little light

leaks underneath the latticed edge

that skirts the porches, where the hedge

holds lots of insects that by night

fill up his little rodent sides

and round his belly with their crunch;

this nest of his, I have a hunch,

will soon not be where he resides,

because, although he’s now grown fat,

it’s been discovered by the cat.

digital photocollageRides Upward & Back

Bicycling up into a tree, I paused to see what I could see

between the branches, richly leaved, and saw, if I was not deceived,

a broad, expansive view indeed, and haply so, while I was treed–

but (Woe!) relaxed my braking foot and clocked my forehead on the root–

so, shorter ’twas than was my wont, this little arbor-biking jaunt.

Can You Come over to My House and Play?

My big sister flew out and visited here for a couple of days last week. It was heavenly. Besides that I just get a big ol’ kick out of her company at any time, there are a number of reasons that time spent with her is a great treasure.

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An early appearance of one of the most frightening of biker gangs ever to terrorize Ryan Street . . .

One, of course, is that having known her my entire life, I can happily be myself without any fear of shocking her. I can (and do) even revert to my most immature self and she never skips a beat but joins me at whatever level of silliness most promotes our laughing until our eyes turn into faucets and we choke on our drinks from our big snorting guffaws. I can, in the safety of my own kitchen, drink a few more of those drinks than I would do on my own, and be just as ridiculous as that makes me be. No repercussions. Well, she might tell Mom when she gets home. But it’s usually the duty of the younger sister to be the tattle-tale, right? So I should be safe for now.

When I get to be with my sister I can catch up on all that’s happening in her life, something that is not even remotely the same over the phone because it lacks the drama of the whole pantomime portion, not to mention all of my interruptions to ask what X or Q player in the story is currently doing. We can rant shamelessly about the current state of the world and everyone and everything that we know in it, and know that the Top Secret information and occasional swear-slippages need never leave the room. I can tell her my own life’s updates and make them seem as glamorous or pusillanimous as I wish, knowing that she will listen to it all with whatever sisterly sympathy or elder-sibling disgust is requisite in the event, just to help me sort out what’s believable and what’s merely my imagining.

I take it as not only excuse and permission but a virtual requirement that I eat any and all of the junky but deliriously tasty things I would normally consider inappropriate for regular dining, starting with chips and a big bowl of ice cream for lunch and not budging impressively far from that sort of menu for the duration. Now, granted, if the visit exceeds a week, I might be better behaved, but (a) this was a short visit (so there!) and (b) I probably wouldn’t be better behaved (so there!). Guess it’s just as well she didn’t test me on this. But it was a danged delicious few days, even if my body may take a while to recover.

And it’s certainly amazing how much my spirits recover from any time lost between visits, when I get just this one little dose of sisterly vitamins. Having three such stupendous sisters is probably an unfair advantage of mine, but I am not in the least apologizing for it. You have to admit, if it’s a selfish trait on my part to revel in such wealth, at least it’s one of the least of my offenses. She said, grinning just a little devilishly.

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Equal-opportunity educator and sharer, my sister started early with the indoctrination of her three younger sisters (and our many cousins, like Mark with us here) in what a jaw-droppingly amazing world it is and all of the excitement we could find in it, even if we had to manufacture the excitement ourselves . . .