So, apparently those tiny, gray bugs that I thought were new are actually some sort of stink bug, possibly the baby version of the larger, shield shaped bastards.
Whenever the kids aren’t at or aren’t going to be at my place for a couple of days I kinda let myself go. The sink is full of dishes. I’ve been smoking inside. There are two days worth of beer bottles on top of the stove, still not rinsed or anywhere close to the growing pile of recycling.
So it’s no surprise that there might be a bug or two in the house. It’s also cold out, and tonight we are probably going to see our temperature drop into the teens. Bugs like warm as much as we do I imagine.
I was probably using the mouse, pointing and clicking my little ass off, and as I removed my hand from the mouse/table area, I felt something between my last two fingers. I tried at first to just flick it off with my thumb, but it was stuck somewhat. Then I looked closer and saw a now familiar bug but thought nothing of it.
The bugs seem new because I’ve never noticed them before recently. They are small and almost square in shape. Their back end is a bit square with rounded corners, and the sides progress toward the front somewhat parallel then very quickly curve to give the front end a round shape. Perhaps that makes little sense, but it isn’t inaccurate in my opinion. They are also a dark gray color.
Soon enough the bug was off my hand, and I forgot about him. And within a minute or two I noticed that horrible stink bug stink. It’s hard to describe if you haven’t smelled it and is unlike anything else, and I can’t say I’ve ever smelled it when I expected it. It’s the kind of smell you’re almost afraid you’ll taste if you aren’t careful. I know not to disturb stink bugs any more than is necessary, but when they are on you you gotta do something.
And to make it worse, as I realized the stench, I knew what I’d done and smelled my hand. Sure enough, the little bastard left me a note. I immediately washed my hands, and the stink is tamed a bit, but I can still smell it on me. I really have to try to smell it, nose all up in the fingers, but still . . .
Many of the roads in my town have wide margins. Actually I’m not sure what they are called, but many roads, on the outside of both lanes, there is an extra wide side, almost like a bike lane. They aren’t really bike lanes as they aren’t marked as such, but for the most part they do make it easy to stay out of the lane sometimes.
Of course there are problems with using these as bike lanes, the most obvious when you’re there is that they aren’t swept, so whatever road crap there is gets pushed to the sides and stays in these margins. My ten year old has fat tires on his mountain bike that tend to roll over most anything you tend to find. My bike has skinny tires, being a road bike and all, and would face issues in these lanes but for the fact of my tires, made specifically to be extra tough for urban riding. Another problem is that these lanes end completely sometimes, and sometimes they just pause as when the road runs under the interstate and the wide margin becomes a sidewalk under the bridge forcing bikes into the traffic lane.
Today, while approaching an intersection, there was a truck in the margin on our side of the road. There was a van coming from behind us and a car coming toward us from the intersection. I was making my way into the traffic lane with my son behind me when the van from behind us chose to squeeze through leaving me with very little space and certainly not the three feet mandated by law that cars are required to give to bikes.
So I yelled at him, and as he came to the stop sign he did stop, and then he got out. This could end poorly, so of course I yelled at him some more.
He asked what my problem was, and I explained exactly what happened, pointing out that he was putting my and my son’s life at risk while I was taking him to school. I also asked if he was in such a hurry, and then I told him about the three feet passing law. He quietly reentered his van and drove another block where he again stopped.
As we caught up to him he waved me over. I almost yelled at him again that he was just making it worse and making us late, but he quickly began speaking and apologized if he’d passed too closely.
Seriously, he apologized. So of course I then felt bad and apologized for yelling at him, though in honesty I’m still kinda glad I yelled at him. I’m happy that I caused this conversation, and perhaps at least one more person is able to take that extra moment to think about those of us on bikes, and maybe my own apology will help him understand that, while I did yell, I’m not a jerk.
I really do just want to ride the streets in safety without having to constantly worry that the cars around me are driven by impatient jerks. I want us all to have the time and space to get where we are going, and I want for all road users, whether they’re using the feet to push themselves or to rotate a pair of pedals or just to depress a pedal, to always see each other and consider that we all just want to get to work or school or home or the store.
And it’s really simple, in almost every instance, for each of us to just slow down a tiny bit. Look up and around. Meet each others eyes and know that you are seeing another person, not a car or a bike, but a person using a car or a bike or just walking.
I feel like I have a lot of acquaintances, several friends, yet very few truly close friends. Maybe I just don’t see the friendships correctly, or maybe I’m just the kind of person who goes about life this way. I’m not registering a complaint so much as offering an initial bit of info for further inspection. Or maybe it’s introspection. You people are all only in my head after all.
I do know, at least sorta, a lot of people into a lot of different things. The place that I work tends to attract a certain sort of people some times, and the staff, both present and past, represent a long line of really cool people who also know people.
Recently a friend got a job working with me, and with her came visits from a few of her friends. One of her friends, while still not one of our regular regulars, has been showing up more often, and he’s always been a really cool guy. I’ve met him a time or two over the years, but very slowly, since the common link we’ve shared has been working there, I’ve seen more of him and been able to talk to him a little bit.
Because this is part of my own thought process, here we have to pause and make the argument about having a type, and by that I mean the kind of person you are attracted to. Up to a point, given the proper introduction and some knowledge of a person, almost anyone can eventually be our type. At the same time, there are those people that, when you see a particular group of human physical characteristics represented, your heart does that little thing for a second. Spanish soccer player David Villa is my own personal example.
And this friend that’s been coming around more often was suddenly a blip on my radar without being anywhere close to what I’d have considered my type. And I also know that having a type doesn’t really mean shit unless you’re just really hung up on that sorta thing, and I do also know that I may not be his type.
I’m not even sure where I’m going with this. I’m certainly not trying to get myself into a situation while also not avoiding it. I don’t need it in the way I really do need a lot of other things, but it would be nice, or could be nice. I’m also wary of any sort of entanglements anymore. I feel like it too often just leads to trouble or remorse or frustration, and I really don’t need any of that.
As with anything only time will tell. It’s nice to mildly obsess over someone who might, finally, not be straight. I haven’t been goofy about anyone in a while, so I might as well enjoy it, and while I’m there I’m going to try to enjoy being my cynical self in case I need to pretend later that I’m coming out of this unscathed.
Talking about the view this morning made me think of the creek. The stretch of greenway between home and the grocery store sorta follows the stretch of creek it’s named for. In the warm months the creek is a wonderful place, and I often stop on either or both of the two bridges that span different parts of the creek. I have a moment, thinking maybe my brief commune with nature, the gurgling and running of the creek, might ease some stress, negate some negativity, whatever woo-ey sorta whatever. But in the winter the creek feels cold, and I seldom stop. Even on those nice, cold days, those invigorating, sunny days so perfect for riding.
A peek out the window minutes ago proved that at least the rain part of the weather forecast was correct, though as of yet it’s only a few drops on the windows of my neighbors’ cars. We’ve also been warned about possible snow or wintry mix. Rain and snow, when you ride a bike especially, is never a fun weather situation. Of course I have options and can get rides, so don’t worry about that. I’m not above taking a ride when it makes sense to.
The kids and I rode today, and if we hadn’t been running late, and if my youngest hadn’t been on the edge of a mood, I’d have taken a picture of the Smoky Mountains in the distance.
Our town is in the foothills of the mountains, a range of ridges pushed up over millennia as the ground did that thing land masses do when forming mountains. It makes for hilly cycling, but sometimes it makes for the most random views of the distance.
And today, for that brief moment, the sun was just up enough at the edge of the clouds. The Smokys were a sawtooth edge of gray while the sky was an expectant dark gray, foreshadowing, if you will, the weather we’ve been told to expect today. But between the grays was the most brilliant ribbon of pink.
I love that riding a bike, when I’ve left on time, affords me these chances to just stop and look. I feel as though I’ve noted this view, or perhaps the idea that there should be a view here. Or maybe it’s the first time that enough elements came together, time of day, season, bareness of trees, weather.
Whatever junction I was fortunate enough to witness doesn’t matter so much as that it stuck with me. Chances are I won’t see it again for a week. I won’t likely have the kids on another school night till Sunday, and I don’t usually get to that part of town, and I am even more unlikely to wake up early enough to catch the view again till Monday morning.
But now I know to look for it. And though the camera on my phone is currently the best camera I have, I’ll try to remember to get a picture if I can get enough of these elements to work for me.
Fwiw, I do have another camera somewhere and could even claim two other phones, no loner in use, with cameras, but I won’t be buying film for the first or service for the latter.
I ran into a neighbor at the grocery store earlier this morning. Today dawned colder than usual. The kids were at my place, and we were all dragging ourselves into being awake and getting ready to get them to school.
They’d both forgotten their bike helmets at their mom’s, and neither of them were really prepared with warm enough clothing, so instead of riding bikes to school we took the bus. They have bike racks on the front, so I was able to get them both to where they needed to be and not have to ride the bus on its full route.
We dropped my oldest off at the end of their mom’s street and continued to the elementary school to drop off the youngest. From there I turned my bike back toward home, stopping off at the grocery store to be sure there was food at home. The kids will beat me back to the apartment by a couple of hours later this evening.
I purchased the few things I need, stuffed them in the backpack and made my way to the front area with the buggies and the gumball machines and the electric scooter/shopping carts.
I’d not worn my flannel layer up to this point but had grabbed it. Remembering the cold from earlier I opted at this point to add it but had to remove my jacket. It was at this moment that the neighbor walked in and recognized me.
I think I saw the exact moment her expression changed from recognition of me to recognition that I was about to get on my bike.
At this point the temperature was probably not less than forty degrees and barely more. Given the proper layers and gloves and a hat it isn’t really so bad, but her face registered a certain sympathetic horror, and she offered me a ride.
I declined, grateful for the offer. She wasn’t sure at first I wasn’t just being polite, I assume, and she offered more firmly. I thanked her but declined again, attempting to assure that I really was and would be okay.
She relented and went about her business while I buttoned and zipped and pulled the velcro cuffs tight around my gloves.
The visit to the grocery store was the perfect amount of time for the sun to finally get past that point, and my ride home was mostly bathed in the lovely morning sun as it first begins cutting at the cold. And yes I was cold, but the trip from the store to home is mostly greenway and one easy hill.
Now I’m enjoying my coffee though not at all enjoying the weather forecast for this evening/overnight that sounds like whoever is in charge is just being mean. It’s almost time to head to work, though by now it’s warmed up quite a bit, so that ride will be even nicer than the last.
I seem to be fairly easily moving into winter this year, though I’m no more well prepared than ever. Somehow the cold just seems less bothersome once I’m on the bike, but it’s not any easier to initially move my ass in that direction. Or maybe I’m easily fooled because the true long, drawn out reality hasn’t quite set in.
I’m not sure that I’ve ever really experienced an actual Pride parade. Certainly I’ve seen bits and pieces, though it’s likely that more often than not I saw the end of the parade as I arrived at the square.
I attended Pride once in Atlanta, the summer I kinda, sorta, nearly came out. But I’m pretty sure I missed the actual parade. That day was kind of a weird one for me over all, and all I really remember is that I had the green backpack that I carried for so long, and though I started out wearing jeans, I quickly hid somewhere and cut the legs off with the knife that probably still sits at my parent’s house. It was a ridiculous process with a dull knife, but eventually I made it happen well enough.
I also ran into an old boss that day. He was he first gay person that I actually knew, and I was really a dick to him at one point. I could have been worse, and the situation didn’t end well because of me mimicking his voice. I don’t remember now what the point of that was, why I was upset at work to the point I was lashing out, but I was an asshole, and on this day I happened to run into him.
I very obviously very nearly cried as I apologized for what I’d done. I think it may have been a bit much for him. He’d been somewhat out for however long, and I’d only recently even come to the realization of what that different was that I’d felt for so long.
I didn’t know anyone else that I saw that day. I had no friends there, and I wonder now if I could have persuaded some people to go, though my list of friends I could do stuff with was amazingly short. And there’s probably a whole blog post about how I habitually keep that list fairly short, shorter than it really is I sometimes think.
Within a week of moving to Charlotte many years ago but less than a year after my first Pride I was attending that year’s Pride in that city, and yet again I really don’t remember a lot. I was there with a new friend I’d met in Atlanta and even newer friend from Charlotte just prior to Pride. It was a weird time for me, lots of newness all around for me.
And since living here in fabulous Knoxville, the town in which I’ve kinda done some growing and where I’ve really and truly come out, I’ve attended a few Pride events, but the parade remains elusive.
I have, as mentioned, seen the end of it, but the end of a parade is not really a parade. I’ve even been to the Christmas parade, and yet the Pride parade remains elusive.
Pride itself is at a new location, a relatively old location to be honest, but for Pride it’s new. I’m not sure how I feel about this location and will likely miss the old, and I’ll certainly miss the reasonably priced alcohol I assume, but maybe I’ll just end up giving it a chance instead.
That’s all the verdict I have at the moment. I want to not like the new location, but I’m sure it’ll be just fine. It both will and won’t be the old Pride, and we’ll all have our own time together. The usual complaints about parking will likely arise, but I’ll have ridden my bike there, so it won’t matter. It’ll be a sparkly rainbow explosion, and for once, as every year, I’ll ride along on the wave and love us all for all the crazy we come up with.
And maybe this year I’ll make it somewhere in time to see the parade. I may also have to decide about the kids. They’ve been to a Pride, and I’m not the least concerned with taking them, but it’s a Saturday, and they often stay with their grandmother in order to be up early and go to her church, and The Mom is possibly likely to want to go, but her new boyfriend probably won’t, so she might not. But she might work, and the kids might be with me, and I don’t even know whether any of this will even be a concern till later.
But maybe I’ll see the parade finally. I feel like I really ought to make a point at least once. And it’s not like it starts that early anyway. It will be easy to see and then beat to the location probably. Maybe I’ll make a race out of it.
So even though I probably won’t actually make a race out of it, I might actually try to make it this time. It couldn’t hurt.
Did I tell you about the time I rode a recumbent bicycle? Yeah, I started to, and then stuff happened, and then I never finished it. It’s probably sitting here in draft form, and one day soon I’ll go through and delete all the drafts, so let’s try this thing again.
There’s one unit between me and the alley, an even tinier apartment than my own. The alley, if I turn left and up the alley, within about twenty feet, places one on the street that nearly encircles the complex.
From outside my door I can look away from the direction of the alley, through the buildings, past the mailboxes and the public areas to the road that nearly encircles the complex. And while outside the tiny apartment a few days ago I saw a recumbent bicycle. I quickly made my way to the end of the alley to watch it roll past.
The next nearest road is a connecter from the interstate to downtown and is sometimes kinda busy. The speed limit is 45 mph, so it can be hairy, but it’s also one of the few roads with actual bike lanes that aren’t absent minded add ons but were part of the plan. Possibly partly because of this, but more because of the proximity of the major road and a couple of smaller roads, the intersection very near the tiny apartment sees a lot of bicycle traffic, people coming into or leaving town for the northern reaches of our city as well as people heading north and away from town on longer bike rides. I see the gamut of people from the serious road cyclist in full on stretchy gear with matching tops and bottoms to the commuters wearing sensible for them clothes to the urban cyclist out riding to or from wherever.
I very often use this same route for trips to The Mom’s or the grocery store, so seeing a recumbent so close I assumed it would pass me by on its way to the intersection, so imagine my surprise when it didn’t roll past moments later.
As it turns out the rider was with his wife, also on a recumbent, and he happens to be the father of a neighbor. He’d stopped to chat with the family, and I couldn’t help but wonder about his bike.
It was a nice afternoon, I wasn’t intruding on anything, and my questions were quickly met with the suggestion that I give it a try.
I slipped into the seat and immediately felt the bike wanting to throw me off. The owner explained that it can be squirrely at first but is quickly whatever. I disagree, in retrospect, but that doesn’t happen just yet.
I got my feet to the pedals, and the first warning was ignored as I began my ride. Also, I broke one of my own rules.
First, I was wearing flip flops. Granted, they are pretty awesome and have a lovely cloth, leopard print sort of inlay, but they are still flip flops, and I never ride a bike in such unworthy shoes. One, I like my feet how they are, and two, I like the shoes how they are. Any one of a number of quick fuck ups on a bike can reduce flip flop and foot to shredded, bloody mess.
Second, his pedals are the kind that serious bikers clip into with that particular sound, and thought the owners wife had sandals designed to be cleated and clipped into this sort of pedal, my own shoes haven’t such.
So, without actually consulting my more thoughtful self, I took my seat, pressed my flip flops onto the pedal the size of two thumbs super glued together, accepted the initial push, and pedaled my way down the street to the main thoroughfare street.
Soon enough the down hill gave me momentum, and for a brief moment I was upright with none of the wiggling and angst the first hundred feet had showered on me. To call the bike squirrely is to heap high praise on it in lieu of describing it as shakier than an alcoholic reaching for his first wine and Mello Yello of the day (and yes, there is a story behind that.)
Between our street and the next street on the thoroughfare is less than a quarter mile but enough time to almost go fast enough and then have to slow down for the right hand turn that will take me to our street and the long but easy uphill.
Still on the main road I veered out into traffic approaching my turn. Being new to this bike I had no idea what my turning radius was going to be. There was not actually any traffic, but my own attempt to peek resulted in more wobbly goodness, so I lifted a hand to indicate my turn. About four inches from the handlebar and with the wobbles hitting the bike hard, I decided the turn signal could fuck right off and grabbed for the safety of the grip.
By this point I was also thinking about a slightly higher gear. Bikes stay up much more easily with some speed, but in my sheer terror at the thought of laying down this nice man’s pretty, red bike I decided to add shifting to the list of things that could fuck off.
Finally around the corner I was several quick spins of the pedals to my own road finally, and with enough hill I was able to put enough into the pedals to maintain slightly less wobble than before, but I seemed to trade the wobble for some amount of not being able to maintain my line. Fortunately, I finally noticed the mirror on my left that gave me a lovely view of that particular danger zone, so I knew there were no cars approaching from the rear, though by now I was nearly back to my starting place. Of course trying to actually use the mirror caused me to veer that direction, so of course it was essentially useless to me, but knowing it was there was something.
All in all the experience was barely terrorizing. Sure, I still kinda don’t like recumbents, but at least now I have about twenty minutes worth of experience to justify my dislike, and I can add distrust. I’m more than happy to judge all similar bikes based on my short and ill prepared ride. Maybe next time I’ll get to try a trike like the one the wife was on. No balance necessary, but it did kinda remind me of my younger brother’s Green Machine, a big wheel that he recieved for ‘Christmas the year I got my very first bike.
This week hasn’t been nearly as full of riding bikes as I’d hoped, though I did manage to get Frank, Joe, and myself to the downtown library and back home, and then we even took the long route to Happy Holler for supper.
The Mom often brings two of the dogs when she brings the kids, and usually that isn’t an issue, but the last time the big dog decided he wasn’t quite done chewing on things that aren’t his to chew on. One of my pillows found itself somewhat but not too damp and misshapen, and I did manage to get my cycling glove out of his mouth before any actual damage occurred.
Today however has been different. I managed somehow to wake up at five in the morning to the slight and subtle sound of the big dog shitting on my bath mat. In my sleep induced state I managed to fold the poop up in the mat and sit it outside the door of the tiny apartment.
Later this morning, as Joe was pouring a bowl of cereal and getting the dogs water, the dog decided to shit right next to him, this one being the least put together of all the four shits he’s taken in the last day since he’s been here. That one took a couple of boxes from the recycling to scoop up and dispose of. Two of the shits were outside while walking and were bagged and tossed like we do in the big city.
I work this evening and had hoped to get at least a small ride in today, but with whatever is wrong with the big dog and his loose bowels I’m totally unwilling to chance leaving him in the tiny apartment without me close by to hopefully run him outside should he appear to be about to befoul the floor once more.
And we missed the farmer’s market today, so any other ride would be a big circle. And I’m not oppose to a big circle, but by the time The Mom arrives to retrieve dogs the boys are likely to be ready to go to their other home anyway. Also they will be picked up by their grandmother for church soon enough, so that further limits the amount of time we have.
All this just means that we are seriously going to do this thing Friday. I’m off Friday again, and that gives us all day. I work a day shift Thursday, so having the boys that night means we all wake up here at the tiny apartment, can have a relaxed breakfast, can take our time preparing lunch and snacks, and can spend as much of the day as reasonable just riding around.
I also need to consider what foodstuffs I have on hand and what I need. I may have to make a grocery store trip between The Mom retrieving kids and dogs and going to work tonight, and that means I should at least be considering a list. I haven’t done that yet, but it’s a consideration I’m considering.
Finally, I’m certain my bath mat is ruined. The texture of the feces is such that I’m unlikely to want to clean it. I haven’t yet thrown it into the dumpster, but in this instance I feel like losing it may not be wasting it, another concern on top of the fact that it was once the greatest, softest bath mat, a true pleasure to step onto from the shower.
And even more finally, because I know you’re wondering, Telegraph Avenue by Michael Chabon as well as James Purdy, Dream Palaces. I also got a DVD of some Tom Baker episodes of Dr. Who. The kids got a pannier full of books as well with Joe checking out three of the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series. Frank’s music selection includes John Lennon, The Gorillaz, and Foster the People.
Frank, Joe, and I are all slightly sunburned. I forget, at least once every year, that it isn’t the heat that causes sunburn but prolonged exposure to the sun.
It was such a beautiful day, and it was warm, but it was still cool enough that the shady parts of the ride were very much noticeably cooler. It was so cool as we were all ready to walk out the door and climb onto our bikes I thought for a second about a layer, but both kids felt otherwise, and I’d have had to throw on a second pannier as well to stuff the extra layers in when we eventually got too hot, which would have been quickly.
I’ve been watching the Friday forecast for several days. Since I’ve had my work schedule for this week I’ve planned on taking a bike ride as far as the kids were willing and reasonably able to go.
Obviously on any bike ride you don’t use all your energy on the trip out, because there’s always the trip back. And though I ride daily, Frank doesn’t ride a whole lot, and Joe has somewhat limited area whether he’s at The Mom’s house or my tiny apartment. Actually with me he has a slightly larger radius under his wheels.
My plan has been to run up 4th to Gay Street, head south till we cross the river, and then head east to the greenway, Ijams, and eventually the end of the greenway in the wildlife management area.
From the tiny apartment to the end of the greenway in question is just over seven miles, give or take. Google maps, as usual, suggests some odd bit of maneuvering for a moment, but the majority of the trip is exactly how we went, but given my route versus maps’, I’m sure the distance is essentially the same, though mine is safer with easier hills.
I should point out that easier hills aren’t always a worthwhile endeavor and that often tougher hills are certainly worth the torture.
I was certain that Frank and Joe could handle the ride, though I’d assumed it was a bit longer than fourteen miles total. I was also prepared to end the ride early to conserve they’re energy to get back, but at no point did it become an issue.
And not only did we reach the end of the greenway, but we also walked about fifty feet down one of the local single track mtb trails. We sat on a rock and looked at the river as well, the French Broad at this point, before it joins the Holston to become the Tennessee.
Soon enough we were headed back to Ijams for lunch and a break. If you’ve clicked the link above you might can imagine what all we might have gotten into, though if you guessed that Frank laid down in the shade on the wall of the pavilion while Joe went up into that new thing I’ve never seen before, then you’d be right.
Our final stop was at Market Square. The boys had gelati while I helped carry a cooler into work then drank a Big River White IPA. Tasty stuff that. We also bought too much candy at Mast cuz it was by the pound and I only paid attention to that when it was too late.
We then made our way home. A little picking at candy happened as well as the cooking of the evening meal.
The boys loved the ride, and they even loved and look forward to more after we were home and they’d had time to feel the sunburn and the tiredness. Hopefully we’ll all feel good tomorrow still. The next ride is next Tuesday. We’re going back to the river, but this time we head west and up a whole other creek.