After revisiting winter as a metaphor with my last post, I’m feeling a bit poetic. My first attempt at poetry (in this blog — I wrote plenty of sappy rhymes in my school days) was a tribute to nature titled Poem: Word to Your Mother (Earth). The second one was called Verisimilitude: Leap Day Twenty Twenty Poem; it dealt with a day in the life and went a little into politics including the environment. In case you missed them, or have forgotten, enjoy. As for today’s words, they’re about the longest period of subfreezing weather in Texas for a long time and the third heaviest snowstorm ever, resulting in power outages and water line breaks for millions across the state and many here in Austin. In fact, there’s an Austin water crew digging up the street to fix a leak as I write. This poem is also about life, politics and nature; I’m beginning to see a theme.
What does nature and political poetry have to do with pedaling a bike? As always, I think the best weapon against climate change is the bicycle. It was warm enough today I went out for a 10-mile ride. If it’s cold where you are but you’re brave and layered up enough, be safe out there. Or if you have one, get on your stationery bike or put your bike on a home trainer like I did the last few days. And if you’re amongst the hoi polloi, well, I doubt you’re reading this dude’s blog, but if so, have fun on your Peloton. We don’t judge. But before your pedaling, or after, here’s my poem. I don’t claim to be a good poet, but it’s like art: I don’t know much about it, but I know what I like. Hey, I’m no Ralph Waldo Emersonor Mary Oliver. I hope you like it.
Someone asked me this, and I think it’s a good question. I don’t think about it much, and the answer(s) aren’t necessarily earth-shattering. But I may as well give it a shot. I also want to try to write 500 words in 30 minutes again, so this will probably be a list article. I’m allowed a listicle once in a while, especially in winter, right? Yes. Read on, won’t you please?
Moving. That’s what I do on a bicycle most days. That’s in addition to a practice of yoga which I’ve done for over five years every day. For the last 20 months, I’ve also taken a daily walk. In the last half a year, I’ve had to do the other kind of moving, into a new place to live, several times, mostly not by choice. This weekend was one of those times, and now I find myself back in a place I used to be, albeit temporarily. The occasion of living in a different environment affords the opportunity to look at things with fresh eyes. While perambulating is often a chore through which I trudge, looking forward to what comes next, tonight’s walk was revelatory. So here is what I noticed on my walk in East Austin.
Years ago, I was pedaling past the World War II era airplane hanger at Austin’s former Robert Mueller airport, which I recall flying into right over where I lived. (Not the recent special investigator.) Now, Mueller is the one-word name (like Bono, Prince, or Sting) for the new urban, high-density (and high-cost) neighborhood that now sits on the former airport. Back then, somehow I’d been able to rent a room in pretty new row house owned by a nice gentleman from Ethiopia. That’s another story.
I biked but not much. On that night, I found the ride quite by accident and joined in. It was fun and easy, but soon I went on my way and didn’t go back. Skip ahead many years in time to a couple of weeks ago, and I ran into a fellow rider at the grocery store, Jason. He reminded me about the ride, and since I was on a bike and curious about Bike Curious, I showed up. Needing a recovery ride from Saturday’s hot and tiring 45-mileMamma Jamma training ride, I went again a second time. Lemme tell ya’ all about it.
Returning readers recall relatively recent reflections recommending rest. After five days of riding my bike almost 90 miles, and knowing I would reach 100 miles last week, this weekend I did very little. My body, my left knee and quadricep muscle in particular, were very grateful. As usual I was having trouble getting myself going. So when a friend offered to come by and help with some errands in his car, I jumped, however gently, at the opportunity. Later, we went for a walk, and it got late. I could have forced myself to go put in some miles on the bicycle, but I did not. And it was glorious. Let me tell you.
I rode the upper half of this trail again, and realized that although familiarity breeds contempt, I’ve never grown weary or bored of this trail. Maybe it’s because there are no cars, so one can relax and enjoy the ride. It could be the variety of sights from thick, evergreen trees to the distant skyline of downtown Austin. There’s occasional deer, rabbit, or armadillo (all of which I saw), not to mention birds, frogs, bugs and more. It’s also used by people walking, running, on rollerblades or even wheelchairs, since it’s 10 feet wide and paved. It’s great for all levels and types of cyclist: road, mountain or even kids (though the latter may not make it up the big hill). It’s been featured on many of my rides on Strava, but today it gets its own blog post. Hop on your bike and come with me on this virtual ride!
Today I went on yet another 30 minute daily walk. I try to go early because it’s so friggin’ hot and humid here in Austin, Texas in late June. Summer came early this year (thanks, global warming!). While there are strategies for dealing with the heat that I outlined in a previous blog, acclimation – getting used to it – is inevitable if you want to keep up a fitness routine. (Thanks to Julie78787 for reminding us of this important step.)
But I’m finding my walking is getting a little stagnant. I’m not a morning person but that’s the best time to go to get some Vitamin D without too much harmful ultraviolet rays of the sun. It’s not led to any weight loss, noticeable gains in strength, or huge uplift in my mood. But I keep doing it because I believe that it will pay long-term benefits. Here are some: Continue reading →
After a few weeks in the country, today it was time to head back to the city. I’m still unpacking and will be for some time, but I really enjoyed the experience of living in a cabin in the woods with peace, quiet and a dog named Buddy. It was generally a great time and no coyotes or bobcats ate us, so that was great. While the reason for being there was not great at all, I’m grateful for the opportunity to be able to have the time to write this blog and interacting with other bloggers. Thanks to everyone who has been liking, commenting and following, but more importantly, actually reading what I write. Continue reading →
Solitude is nice — unless you’ve caught the cabin on fire, a coyote is making a meal of your leg, or you’re out of salsa.
Well water, especially the hot stuff, literally smells like rotten eggs, because it has sulfur in it.
You can’t find your own ass after dark without a flashlight. Some scenes from theclassic 1974 horror movieTexas Chainsaw Massacre were filmed not 10 miles from here. See the dark picture up there? Spooky. ‘Nuff said!
Save for that one time the neighbors showed up on their daily walk and I was dead asleep in a nap, the roar of airplanes, the howling of coyotes, the very loud rain on the tin roof, and even louder electric or fire hazard gas heaters, it’s really mellow and safe out here.
Speaking of heaters, it’s cold or hot until you turn something on. So peeing in a bucket at night is what you do to avoid a chilly trip to the bathroom.
Tonight I couldn’t find a plug for a light in the dark, and hit my forehead on a shelf I forgot was there. Then I tepped off the raised floor in the living room and nearly fell over. Still couldn’t find a light. Stumbled into the bedroom. Cabins!
The road is gravel, dirt, clay and mud — bad for cars and horrible for bikes. It’s getting really boring walking back and forth.
You can literally be up the creek. Because of the steep incline, you could be trapped here in a gullywasher. (That’s the scientific term in Texan for flash flood.)
The paved road to get in has no shoulder but does have hairpin turns, crazy hills, and speeders, drunks, or speeding drunks. Not fun for cycling although people do it. You gotta have a car out here and once you’re on the highway, it’s always a drive and rush hour is a big hot mess.
The neighbors are all polite so far, and a few are model citizens who help with the dog or house, or give a city boy advice. But some are pretty private or their dogs don’t play well with others. I’m also still waiting on that first home-made pie. Like Waiting forGodot, I imagine.
Coyotes, bobcats and snakes, oh my! Haven’t seen any of them, have heard the wild dogs, but I did see a mouse in the house.
The Upsides of Livin’ in the Country
Things and time do move more slowly. I’m good with that!
Peeing outside is pretty cool, especially if you’re a dude.
Peace and quiet, very little traffic noise. Nothing compared to where I stay in the city with its garbage trucks waking you up at 7 am, cop/fire/EMS sirens and Jehovah’s witness.
All the comforts of home, heat, wi-fi, running water, electricity, but none of the pollution.
You don’t need to lock the doors; if there’s crime I haven’t heard about it.
Being surrounded by the natural world of trees, dirt, birds, and wildlife is how we’re supposed to live.
“The stars at night / are big and bright / [clap clap clap clap] / deep in the heart of Texas.” (It’s the fight song of the University of Texas Longhorn sports teams.)
Compost right in the garden, or anywhere.
There’s a lot less to distract you so you tend to do more walking, thinking, resting and reading, and a lot less stress eating, tv-watching, or going on wasted trips to fast food or convenience stores.
Buddy the dog may be the happiest dog around and he’s what his owner called strong medicine. I need my Buddy prescription refilled please, doctor!
I could go on but I think you get the point: I really like the number 11. (Well, it’s true, I do! Because one plus one makes two!) But seriously, it’s different, but it’s still life.
No biking, still too cold and wet, and I wimped out on a trainer ride, using how it bothers the dog as a reason/excuse. That means tomorrow I’ll have to do SOMETHING.
Mosley’s book is really good; I feel like I know the characters and they have something to say about the time and place — black people in Los Angeles in the late 1950’s. I didn’t consciously check this book out of the library because he’s an African-American author and it’s Black History Month (yes, the shortest one, but perhaps the most powerful becauese of that!), but it’s interesting timing along with just seeing the reception of the movie Black Panther.
There has been conversation about it serving as a real role model for young kids of color who usually don’t have a super hero who looks like them on the big silver screen. I’m also in touch with a Kenyan blogger, Twalha Fakhi, who lives in Kenya. I’ve really enjoyed a few of her posts and her nice comments about mine. Go check out her blog, Cafe ave Twali!
Speaking of Kenya, the movie, and Africans and African-Americans, here’s a link to an interesting Washington Postinterview with Larry Madowo by Karen Attiah, Global Opinions Editor. He’s a Kenyan journalist and broadcaster.
Cleaner diet, higher energy and better sleep, plus catching some TV shows and movies, and of course bicycling are things still not happening as much as I’d like.
Walking, yoga, work searching and networking, reading, blogging and engaging with other bloggers, plus typing for a friend — all these things are happening. As a Libra, I’m always searching for balance. Soon, having to work will probably wipe out alot of my extracurricular activities. Such is life. C’est la vie. Asi es la vida.
Or, to quote Austin-area resident, Lincoln talks-to-himself spokesmodel and Oscar-winner Matthew McConaghey: “Just keep livin’.”
Bikes Came Before Cars & Will Be Here After Them, Too
Today’s post is about a meeting I attended put on by the City of Austin Active Transportation Department. They were reporting back on improvements to two streets in East Austin. The headline for me was that adding bike lanes and reducing car lanes from four to three did not increase travel time. In fact, travel time was decreased, because traffic signals were synchronized and optimized. This was measured with Bluetooth technology so it is not subjective.
Still, naysayers and disbelievers will convince themselves or anything to reinforce their narrow paradigm that only cars deserve to be on the roads. To me that’s just illegal, wrong and backwards. Such is politics. It didn’t matter to me when I just tooled around for short periods. Now that I’ve been out there biking over 13,000 in three years, saving my life and the lives of other people on bikes is more important. Continue reading →