My Old Bike

 

 

This is me on my old bike. I had just gotten it, as a hand-me-down, and I think the love and appreciation shows.

 

I had decided I wanted a bicycle. But as I can be a bit, um, frugal, I just couldn’t bring myself to pay a honking lot of money. It was one of those times when the universe was listening: right after deciding, a friend told me she had gotten a new bike and I could have her old one. Hallelujah!

 

The first thing I did was pump up the tires. Then I took the old gal to a local bike shop, where they put on a new chain, front & rear baskets and a new seat. Pink – thank-you-very-much. I added the handlebar streamers & Elvis horn and got myself a lock. I was thrilled.

 

I started riding her as much as I could. For exercise. Errands. Fun. After a short while, someone told me I should really be riding with a helmet. I listened and found myself a shiny, pink topper for safety.

 

Why all the bicycle chatter? Because I’ve just said goodbye to my old bike. Mister insisted I get a new one. And this new gal is alright. Her brakes work perfectly. She’s just the right size for my frame. She’s lightweight. She’s, well, new.

 

My old bike was too big for me. The brakes required some finesse, and plenty of notice. She weighed a ton. It was a lot of work – riding that bike – as the brakes permanently rubbed against the wheels, creating friction and drag. A trip to the grocery store was an amazing workout, especially after the baskets were loaded. (And don’t even ask how hard it was to pedal home after loading the baskets with wine.) The truth is, riding my old bike wasn’t what you’d call easy.

 

But it sure was fun. And I put more miles on that thing than I can count. She was there for me when my car wasn’t. She was there for me when I didn’t want to pay for gas. Basically, she was there for me. And I’ll not forget that.

 

I took the baskets and the Elvis horn. They’ll be on my new bike. It isn’t quite the same, and I won’t pretend it is. Over time, I’m sure she’ll begin to look like a part of me. I’m still getting to know her. And that’s okay.

 

That old bike is now residing at her original owner’s home, where she’ll be ridden by girls at sleep-over parties and gatherings. She’ll be there when an extra ride is needed. And some lucky girl will surely struggle with the bike’s weight and brakes. But she’ll also dig that pink seat and streamers (as I left those behind). And when she feels the wind in her face and laughs with her friends, I hope she’ll be visited by the ghost in the machine. Maybe there will be an Elvis song on the breeze, as she pedals along into the adventure of her day…

In the Garden – Update

 

 

I posted about our little tomato garden a couple of months back. A lot has changed since then.

 

Where there was this…

 

 

there’s now this…

 

 

5 feet high and rising!

 

This…

 

 

has become this…

 

 

There were a couple of plants that fooled us. We thought they wouldn’t make it, but they’ve rebounded in style. The opposite occurred as well: the basil looked so strong when we planted. This is the third round of basil I’ve put in the ground, and it’s struggling. Apparently, moth larvae dig on pesto…

 

 

Other than that, all else is well. It’s amazing, really. Sun and water. That’s it. And patience. Can’t forget that.

 

There are probably a hundred tomatoes out there, waiting to become. Because I know the feeling, I can’t help cheering them on. Grow, little tomatoes! Grow!

Bees & Mars

 

 

I was out in the garden and caught sight of a big, fat bumblebee. He was buzzing around, doing the Lord’s work, and I was so happy to see him. I’m all for anything that helps the garden grow.

 

This little fella tired of my tomato plants pretty quickly. Then he headed straight for the passion flowers that have taken over our small orange tree. The passion flower grows on a vine. And that vine is evil, friends. It chokes the life out of whatever it grabs and I’ve tried to eradicate it. Alas, I have failed.

 

But here’s the passion vine deal: it produces a beautiful flower. Sure – it probably came from Mars. I mean, look at that thing. It’s a freak-show of a flower, and it’s pretty danged cool. If it weren’t trying to kill a large corner of my backyard, I’d feed it. But it doesn’t need me. It’s got the bees on its side.

 

For all I know, bees came from Mars, too. Or not. Either way, seeing the bee and the passion flower together was quite a show. A lovely, crazy freak-show.

Remembering

 

 

 

Happy Memorial Day, America.

 

Remembering is important. Really.

Stay-cations

 

 

I’ve not been on a proper vacation in a dog’s age. As of this writing, there isn’t one on the horizon.

 

I’ve been blessed to travel the world. Lord willing and the creek don’t rise, I’m not done.

 

For now, I may spend a little time looking through my old vacation photos. If I close my eyes, I can remember the food, the air, the emotions…

 

The world is a beautiful place.

Do The Right Thing

 

 

 

Some days (okay – weeks, months, years), I’m not sure what to do. My inability to make decisions can end up leaving me uncomfortably still, doing nothing at all. This is no way to live, friends. I should know: I’m in the midst of one of these indecisive periods right now. Can you say R-U-T?

 

Anyhoo, the other day I was out riding my bike. I guess school was letting out that afternoon, as there were kids walking every which way at an intersection. A police officer was there, working as a crossing guard. As I approached the corner, I dismounted my bike and started walking across the street. The officer turned to me and thanked me with so much energy, I almost expected him to hug me.

 

It was a simple moment, I know. But it made an impression. It would have been a lot easier just to ride through that intersection, ignoring the traffic sign (which is, I cannot lie, what I usually do). But that’s not the way it went down. I may struggle with the big decisions in life. I may not know who, how or what to be.  But I can still choose to do the right thing, no matter how small. And as long as I can do that – and know it – I’ll be okay. Really.

 

After the police officer thanked me for walking my bike at the intersection, I looked at him and said, “Well, you gotta do the right thing in front of the kids.” He smiled and went back to his duties. As for me, I walked my bike across the street and then resumed my ride.

 

Like I said, it was a simple moment.

The Queen’s House

 

In October 2007 I wrote about an unexpected and much-appreciated trip to London. While I shared experiences relating to a deep desire to see the Rothko paintings at the Tate (and the subsequent fulfillment of said desire), I did not mention much more about the trip’s particulars.

 

Such as how I spent most of my time alone in London. Or how my digital camera was on its last leg. I managed the alone part just fine. I’m a big girl. But the camera freak-out…

 

Many photos were washed out completely. Some just had these crazy “flashes” that showed up where and when they felt like it. I took photo after photo, hoping for the best. Sometimes it worked…

 

 

Sometimes it didn’t…

 

 

One day I found myself standing outside the gates of Buckingham Palace. It’s a lovely gate, really. So I took a photo. The crazy “flash” wasn’t too bad.

 

 

There was something about that picture that appealed to me. Maybe that’s why I pulled it out of the archives a few years later and decided to paint it. I’m not sure. Whatever the reason, this painting makes me happy.

 

 

For the record, a few days after standing outside those gates – alone – I went back to Buckingham Palace with Mister. We took the tour as full-on, googly-eyed Americans and it was awesome. My favorite part? Sharing it with someone.

Oh! The Ironing!

 

 

This is my mountain of ironing. It has piled up. And multiplied. To look at it, you probably can’t tell there’s at least 2 and a half hours of work involved. At this point, I can either burn it all in the backyard or just iron the danged stuff.

 

It’s windy today. I guess a backyard fire really isn’t the prudent choice, huh?

 

Oh! The Ironing!

My Hoopty – Update

 

 

As some of you know, my car has been sick. Real sick. It’s been in the shop for two whole weeks, during which time I’ve bummed rides, used public transportation, borrowed Mister’s car and gotten a lot of exercise on my bike. I’ve made do, and that’s just fine.

 

But L.A. is hard without a car. (It’s hard any way you look at it, but that’s another post.) And these last two weeks had me worried. What if my mechanic – awesome though he is – couldn’t repair my ride? What if I had to break down and buy a new-to-me car? What if I had to say goodbye to my old Volvo?

 

The last time I needed a new car was over a decade ago. I had finally admitted to myself that Mister’s old Honda wasn’t doing the job and needed to be put to rest. The very day I accepted this truth, I was sitting on a park bench, near a couple of elderly ladies. One was saying how her friend had recently died. The friend had named this lady as the executrix of her will. I overheard her say how everything had been handled, with the exception of selling her late friend’s car.

 

“I need a car,” I said. “What are the specs?”

 

 

She told me all about it: a 1966 Volvo, one owner. I asked if I could see the car and take it for a test-drive. We set up a meeting.

 

I knew right away. As soon as I saw her, I knew she would be part of my life. The smooth curves. The chrome. The Jesus paraphernalia spread across the dash. After a short drive to a mechanic and his subsequent thumbs-up, I made an offer. We haggled for all of 7 seconds and the deal was struck. I bought myself one heck of a hoopty.

 

 

A beautiful thing about owning an old car is the lack of monthly payment. I can’t tell you how much my frugal soul appreciates that. And even with repairs (which have been necessary over the years), I’ve never put out enough money to equal car payments.

 

This last round of repairs frightened me, I won’t lie. Converting my car’s engine from its original generator-regulator system to an alternator broke my heart. I think it broke my mechanic’s heart, too. But it had to be done. And so it was.

 

My struggles during this car-less period were primarily due to transportation woes. But there was more. As I wrote a while back, I couldn’t help but see the Volvinator’s problems as metaphors for life. For my own aging process. And, to be perfectly honest, there was one more problem: I just wasn’t ready to let the old girl go. I’m still not.

 

As of yesterday, she’s back and running beautifully. I even had her washed and she turned quite a few heads at the car-wash.

 

 

“One owner before me.” “1966.” “Only 114,000 miles.” “Yeah, it’s a lot of fun.”

 

I’ve made a lot of memories in my car. But one of my favorite memories is of the car’s life before me. On the day I bought her and was about to drive home, the lady who sold the Volvo to me gave me a picture of the original owner and told me a bit about that woman. She said the late owner’s name was Gertrude. Apparently, Gertrude’s husband had bought the Volvo for her when it was brand-spanking-new. Gertrude loved her husband dearly, and couldn’t bring herself to tell him she simply did not like the car. After a few months of driving it and being none too happy about it, she decided to come clean. But something happened before she could tell him: her husband had a fatal heart attack. After her devastating loss, Gertrude simply couldn’t part with the car – a gift from her beloved husband. So she kept it all those years. Right up to her own passing. Bless her heart. I love that story. And I love the photo of Gertrude.

 

 

And I love my old car. Long may she reign.

 

Turn Around Bright Eyes…

 

 

I tried. I did. I wanted to get a halfway decent photo of the 20-and-12 Eclipse. This was all I got.

 

But that’s what happens when you’re in the parking lot of a brew-pub, with a bunch of drunk people at a Beer Club meeting.

 

Oops! I was told to never talk about Beer Club. My bad…