Yesterday

It seemed it might be the last warm and dry day for awhile, so we walked to Wolff’s Biergarten to celebrate my cousin’s birthday.  Eight point two miles round trip.  I can’t remember walking further.  It went well, but my legs were nearly shot by the end.  My legs!  It had been my feet on most of our recent long walks, but they must be toughening up.

The destination was worth the walk.  Judie was in fine spirits and it was nice to see everyone.  Although I couldn’t bring myself to order a beer at ten in the morning, veggie curry wurst, fries and sauerkraut were a treat.img_5152

We walked home quickly to have a chance to see my friend’s 1935 Austin Seven out and about.  He was going to be in the neighborhood and the car was to be stored for the winter the next day.  We made it.img_5157

Seeing it in the drive was terrific.  It is a bit shorter than a Golf, but it’s narrowness is the real surprise.  I didn’t measure it at the time, but it looked to be about half the width of a Golf.  Casual research just now suggests the Seven looks narrower than it is (dark colors are slimming and the pointed beak surely lends to the illusion).  The Seven is about two thirds of the width of a Golf (four feet versus six).

As a sometimes pedaler, I can’t help but wish all cars were as narrow.  Even in the narrowest lane (say nine feet), an Austin Seven could share the lane, side by side, with a pedaler traveling two feet from the curb and nearly three feet would remain.  Of course three full feet are required by law, and more space is better still, but if you read on you’ll learn why I would be willing to overlook a bit less than three feet when being passed by this car (hint–top speed is modest).

Four forward gears, but first is a bail out gear–to be used only if you find yourself on a particularly steep grade.  You generally start in second.  Off we were!  The owner worked through second and third, then into fourth, and we found ourselves traveling at twenty-two miles per hour.  That was known only because we were driving through a speed trap and the sign told us so–the car itself has no speedometer.  I don’t think it gets going much more quickly than that without the help of a hill and/or the wind, as four cylinders producing 13.5 horsepower were all that we had to pull the three of us along.  The engine isn’t much larger nor much louder (at idle) than a residential sewing machine.  I’d be surprised to learn that the exhaust pipe has a diameter greater than three-quarters of an inch.  All this together makes for a very polite motorized conveyance.  I will never forget it!

Today, proper fall weather is here.  Rain overnight turned to snow, then back to rain as the temperature rocketed to thirty-five degrees.  We’ve stayed in.

I rode the rollers in the morning.  Since I’ve started a few weeks ago, I’ve increased the effort three times.  Started in the easiest gear and left it there for a couple of sessions.  Dropped it a gear for the next few and repeated the pattern twice more.  I don’t think I’ve pedaled on the rollers in this high a gear before.  I won’t further increase the effort–there is no point in pulling my knees apart.  img_5166

I added to a half batch of oatmeal chocolate chip cookies a touch of cocoa powder and brewed coffee.  Espresso is better (or even just finely ground coffee), but I’ve put away the espresso maker to make room on the counter for the toaster oven, forgot about dry coffee until now and I had brewed coffee in the fridge.  I reduced the flour to accommodate the cocoa, but should have left it alone.  The batter was visibly loose as I plopped the cookie dough batter on the mat.  They spread a bit too much in the oven, but nevertheless taste very nice.

I finished Irving’s In One Person and am now well into Sinclair Lewis’ It Can’t Happen Here.  Recommended by a friend and first published in 1935, Lewis’ book is a satirical account of a fascist’s rise to the presidency of the United States.  Chilling.  Here’s hoping for fewer parallels between fiction and fact as I make my way through the book.

Rain is now snow again.  Not enough to build on the pavement, but it seems the Austin Seven was tucked away for the season none too soon.  My cookies and extra blankets will keep us warm.  I hope you have the means to do the same.

What Do You Do?

How many times have I shared this?  It feels right to share it again.

Imagine a meeting between Fred Rogers and ______________.  I’m trying but it isn’t going well.  I expect _____________ would, at a minute in, grow tired of Mr. Rogers’ measured verbal cadence and excuse himself.  Happily, Senator Pastore heard him out and resisted President Nixon’s request to cut PBS’s budget by more than half (in light of the financial needs occasioned by the Vietnam war).  $9M became $22M thanks in part to the sometimes gruff and impatient Senator.  I can’t imagine how many lives have been made better by having Fred Rogers on screens during their childhood.  My sincerest thanks to both Mr. Rogers and Senator Pastore.

I just made a single serving cake in a cup in the microwave.  It wasn’t the best cake I’ve made, and it was certainly the least attractive, but I felt joy in the making and eating of it.  Wonder, too, as I watched it rise in seconds through the back-lit window.  There wasn’t an Easy Bake Oven in my childhood, but if I’d had one I would have worn it out.

Yesterday we passed part of a rainy day watching on Netflix The Birth of Saké.  I recommend it.  I drank a glass of Momokawa saké while we watched the documentary.  I recommend that, too. Watching a small team work and live together for seven months in the brewery reminded me of my nephews’ love of summer camp.  It wasn’t a stretch.  They were on my mind, as was their camp, because yesterday the younger of the two posted their picture wearing camp t-shirts and counting down the days to their next visit.  They love camp as much as a 60-year old man who loves making saké loves his brewery.

Last night I baked pasta with red sauce made from garden tomatoes and basil.  Before it went in the oven, I laid atop saucy pasta a few strips of seitan chickpea cutlets and Daiya shredded mozzarella.  Twenty five minutes at 350 worked well.  I haven’t in a decade had parmesan like stuff with which to finish pasta dishes (the offerings at the store seem too expensive), but I suspected the dish would benefit from extra salt, fat and umami so I whizzed in a bladed coffee grinder cashews, nutritional yeast, garlic and salt.  Took about a minute and it is delicious.  Recipe in this cookbook.  A side of sautéed spinach with lemon and roasted garlic rounded out the meal.  It was, as they say, a hot ticket.

I’m a hundred pages shy of finishing John Irving’s In One Person.  As I turn the pages, I find myself looking in on the life of a bisexual man.  The 1960s and 1970s were no cakewalk for Billy, the protagonist, and then the 1980s and the AIDS crisis show up.  As Billy is leaving the home of a childhood friend who had just moments before died of complications from AIDS, he notes that President Reagan didn’t mention AIDS during the first seven of his eight years in office.  What a president fails to mention can be as important as what a president mentions.

Yesterday our Mayor tweeted a reminder of our new law requiring drivers to slow down and move over when passing first responders and road workers.  This was something I’ve always done for anyone on the side of the road.  I didn’t take drivers ed or or formal driving lessons, so I don’t know who to thank for the good advice.  I rarely see road users here do it, hence the need for the law.  But laws without education don’t save lives.  Just like our relatively new safe passing law protecting cyclists–laws are ineffective until advertised.  I thanked the Mayor for her reminder of the road workers’ protection law and asked her to also remind her followers of the cyclists’ safe passing law.  It wasn’t the first time I have asked, but I still haven’t seen a single tweet, poster or PSA.  It’s too cold for even crickets to sound.  Silence reigns.

Last week I was close passed by a speeding Albany police cruiser.  Later that week I pedaled my heart out to stay ahead of a CDTA bus–I wasn’t in the mood to take the lane or be close passed.  Luckily, the bus stopped to pick up a passenger who needed to load a bike.  This gave me time to get to CVS ahead of the bus.  The CDTA representative I was working with has stopped responding to my emails (I last wrote on September 22, 2016).  I haven’t made it to an Albany Bicycling Coalition meeting.

My toenail is still black, but other than the components I removed from the damaged frame there are no other visible reminders of the car hitting me.  The frame was taken away by a new frame builder who plans to use it to learn how to unbraze lugs.  I can sometimes roll ten or twenty feet before the accident reel replays in my head.  My rollers never felt so good.  Work to do upstairs.

A dear friend recently died.  He lived in Nebraska when we did but moved across the river to Iowa when they legalized same sex marriage.  He took his restaurant with him.  I haven’t been to the “new one,” the one in Iowa, but I know it is, like the Nebraska location was, as much a sanctuary as a place to get good grub.  Rob is probably rubbed raw from all the hugging, but I wish I were there to offer one more.  Who the heck is Lydia?

I miss my dog.  We’ve submitted applications for two local dog rescue groups.  We have some travel to enjoy before bringing a new friend into our life.  We have to stay strong for a couple of months.  Can I close my heart for that long?  I have to remember how I used to do it as I ate meat in front of vegetarian friends.  All I had to do was say “I’ll have what they are having,” but I didn’t.  I closed my heart once–I can do it again.  A skill I would do well to unlearn.

I should go.  Be the love that is lacking in the lives of others.  Okay?

Something

Sixty degrees on November second.  I’ll take it.

I started the day with thirty minutes on rollers.  Fourth time this year, so I am hoping it sticks.  The longer rides I did this summer have made the transition to rollers, the very high resistance rollers, much easier.  Gone is the dread I’ve felt in past years.  I just get on and go.  It is nice.

After breakfast I pedaled to the garden to plant garlic.  Fifty cloves are now tucked a foot below the surface.  The collards and kale are still going strong.  I’ll have to pick, blanch and freeze a bunch soon.

Just now I pedaled a third time.  I climbed atop my ANT truss bike and pointed it downtown.  The bike did all the rest.  Felt like it anyway.  Simple bikes can be nice when there aren’t major hills on your route.  I enjoyed a roll around Washington Park and then came home.  On the way down I pedaled on Madison.  Despite my initial misgivings, the traffic calming seems to be working really well.  I pedal on the left edge of the bike lane to stay away from the doors and most motorists move left, some moving their left side tires into the turning lane, to give me plenty of room.  The speeds seem to be down, too.  So forget what I said before. More bike lanes, please!

It hasn’t been all biking.  Lately, Lacey and I have been taking long walks around town.  Five miles is typical.   They often involve a midway stop at a restaurant, thrift store or bar.  My favorite one was at night in the rain, under an umbrella, and included a stop at the Gastropub for a drink and then at Curry House for dinner.  Another favorite, which has been repeated many times, includes a stop at Berben & Wolff’s for food or a cupcake.  We couldn’t easily walk that far as Frida slowed.  It is great to be back out there, but it would be fun to have a younger dog along for the journey.  Don’t get me wrong–it would be even more fun to have Frida.  I miss her so much.  We’re looking casually.  I find myself on a couple of sites every other day, but I half hope we wait a bit more.  I have some trips I’d like to take.  That said, if the right dog shows up, I doubt we’ll be able to resist.

After lunch I pickled four more quarts of Padron peppers.  Last of the season, as the plants have been pulled out, but I think we now have seven quarts in the house.  It’s going to be a spicy winter.

Two cookbooks showed up yesterday.  I had preordered both long ago and then forgot about them.  I didn’t think of it until now, but the authors must have asked Amazon to ship so that they’d arrive on World Vegan Day.  I think there was a big shindig in Melbourne, Australia.  Folks on Twitter seemed to enjoy themselves.  Most tweets involved bemoaning, or was it celebrating, how much they ate.  I suppose I’d be tempted to overdo it, too.

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I’ve paged through both and it looks like they will be put into heavy rotation.  The Homestyle Vegan recipe for onion rings caught my attention and thirty minutes later I was enjoying them.rot

Crazy thing is the recipe uses no oil.  The rings are dunked in a wet dip of flour milk and starch and then dredged in a dry dip with panko, cornmeal and other special spices.  Then a mere twenty minutes in the oven.  It’s clear they are oil free, but half way through chewing my first bite and I didn’t care a bit.  So crispy.  So tasty.  So easy.  Again please. fc

The recipe made too much of the wet and dry battering dips, so while the rings were baking I dredged a couple of sticks of Daiya block cheese and fried them in peanut oil.  Glad I only made two and that Lacey ate half of one.  I would have eaten as many as existed.  I shouldn’t repeat that behavior very often!rib

I am going to try to get us to go to Mexican Radio in Schenectady for dinner tonight.  It is the last night of their expanded vegan menu in celebration of World Vegan Day and Day of the Dead.  It will be my chance to overeat like the good folks in Melbourne.  Wish me luck.

Hope you are well.

Nearly

This afternoon I enjoyed a third post collision circuit of my loop.  The light is beautiful now.

Just as I was learning to turn my phone when making videos, I joined Instagram and unlearned it.

I pedaled a Rivendell Atlantis.  Stouter than the Rivendell Custom and the Specialized Allez SE, but I love the easy gearing.  Coming up the hill on Second Avenue was easy.

Tomorrow we will fast for Yom Kippur.  Sounds like it may be just Lacey and I.  Should be some good contemplation going on.  Looking forward to it.

That’s it!  Take care!

Loose Thread

Pull on the wrong thread and a sweater can come apart.  We are as delicate, or can be.  I have a friend who is in trouble.  He doesn’t have many people in his life.  I am going to do what I can to help.  I’m happy I’ve reserved space in my life to use when needed without upsetting my own equilibrium.  Please wish us luck and keep us in your thoughts.

This morning I pedaled the loop on which I was hit twelve days ago.  I’ve been out on bicycles three or four times since, but just around the city.  Those went well so I felt good about going further.

I picked my beautiful red Specialized Allez SE.  It is geared a bit taller (the easiest gear isn’t as easy as the easiest gear was on the Rivendell), but I was still able to make the climb up Second Avenue.  The first section just off Pearl is the steepest.  For a second I thought I was going to have to walk.  Just then Frida, who had been on my back the whole way, pushed a bit harder and up we went.

I got a new helmet.  Ordered it and received it just before I was hit (spooky), but wasn’t wearing it when I was hit.  I had to wait for a mirror to arrive before putting it in service.  Meet my Specialized Centro Winter Edition.

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I like it.  Love the safety yellow color.  The Winter Edition comes with a winter liner that replaces the thin strips of padding you would normally get.  Mine didn’t come with summer pads.  Probably fell out of the box at the bike shop before they shipped it.  The winter liner isn’t as insulated as I thought it would be, but it is probably the right amount of warm for cyclists pushing hard.  The liner that goes  over your head is little more than football jersey mesh (you can see it covering the ear hole), but the ears have a circle of foam that seem cozy.

The built in red rear blinky is nice.  It isn’t super bright and you need to take it apart with a small philips to replace what I imagine are small button batteries, but it will always be there when I need it.  Still, I’ll bet there are people working at Specialized who wished they could have spent another $10 on a better blinky and passed along the cost.  I would have gladly paid a bit more.

You can see I zip tied my old Petzl climbing light on too.  That thing was cheap and is so bright.  In blinking mode, it is a real attention getter.  Front and rear blinkies on my helmet together with an orange tee should help me be seen.  I won’t wear the orange tee every ride, but I am going to buy a few more.

I also bought from Peter White a Busch + Muller Ixon Pure light to mount on my handlebars.  It was only $48 and it seems very well made.  I’ll post some picks of the light pattern in the next post or so.  IT is clearly way brighter than my ten year old LED Cateye lights.  I could have bought an even brighter light, but this one seems like it will be good enough for my intended uses.

I should go.  Just wanted to share my good feelings after getting back on the loop, but then, well, you know.fullsizerender

Check out those proudly upright brake cables!  Old school!

Don’t pull on any loose threads.  Carefully knit them back in place, instead.

Bye.

Outside

Yesterday, as we drove to pick up a friend, Lacey pointed out that we hadn’t until then left the house.  Oops.  Not sure how that happened or how it escaped my notice, but there it was.  I was glad to be outside, headed to Troy Night Out.

Our mission was to see some of the Breathing Lights art installation.  My cousin, who spent a great deal of time and energy helping with this project, was stationed for the opening at Collar Works Gallery, so that’s where we started.

What a gallery!  The entrance is in the back of a beautiful industrial building on the Hudson River which has been repurposed as the Hudson Arthaus Apartments.  They accept dogs [heart].  The gallery’s new exhibit, Reclamation, was opening that night.  Guest curated by Ian Berry, Director of the Tang Teaching Museum at Skidmore College, the show dovetails nicely with Breathing Lights.  From the curatorial statement:

Artists see through everyday and discarded things accessing dormant stories within. The inventive artists in Reclamation are joined by a keen ability to refocus our world and make us aware of new possibilities. Like the creators of Breathing Lights, these diverse artists shine a light on what is usually passed by.

Reclamation is up until October 22, 2016.  Go!

Breathing Lights!  Windows in homes in neighborhoods with high vacancy rates have been illuminated from within.  The lights slowly pulse to suggest breath.  The effect is very engaging.  It stays with you.  Conversations are started.  bl1

Spread across three cities in the Capital Region, it isn’t an easy art project to take in.  Check out the map below.  Grey dots are vacant homes.  Yellow dots are vacant homes illuminated in connection with the project.  That’s a lot to see!img_4834

Walking tours seemed most promising, but inclement weather steered us onto a trolley.  The trolley stopped at three points to collect viewers, Collar Works Gallery, The Arts Center of the Capital Region and The Center for Independent Media.  Breathing Lights homes were pointed out in route.  Sad that the trolley didn’t even slow.  We’ll have to try again.img_4823

Projects funded by the Bloomberg Philanthropies Public Art Challenge, like Breathing Lights, hope to enrich communities and attract visitors.  Second first.  This project will attract visitors.  It already has and will continue to do so.  However, I think the project will do even more to enrich the communities in which the homes are located.  Where there is breath, there is life.  The locals know their neighborhoods are alive, but having a major art initiative moving in next door, next door for so many families, should feel good.  The glowing lights are nurturing.  Like a warm hug.  We all need more warm hugs.  Huge thanks to Breathing Lights!bl2

Next up, dinner.  Lacey suggested a local treasure, Lo Porto Ristorante.  So many folks list it as their local favorite, but until last night we hadn’t been.  It is a delight.  The space, the staff and the food are all top notch.

I assumed the place was small and no tables would be open.  Lacey called from the trolley to ask for a table an hour hence.  No problem.  We arrived 30 minutes early, menus were picked up and we were taken to our table.

We walked through the fully packed front rooms into a long back room.  Three of the roughly fifteen tables were occupied.  Terrific murals lined the walls, but the lights were too bright (my looks improve as lights come down).  After the three other tables left, we asked our server if the lights could be dimmed.  Absolutely!  She also asked if we would enjoy having the ceiling fans turned off.  Yes!  Now the room was ours–cozy and dim.

The food!  Vegans will work to find critter free menu items, and I expect the choices narrow further if too many questions are asked, but we had been cold, tired and hungry and found dishes that worked for us for the evening.  Not only worked, but deeply satisfied.  Lettuce greens were crisp and dressed right.  Peppers and artichokes, too.  Three different plates of pasta were enormous but so delicious I wanted to make all three go away.  My fork wasn’t “minding its own business.”  As it is, the pasta remaining from my dish will be the centerpiece for three upcoming meals at home.  On our next visit we’ll order less and work harder to find fully critter free dishes.  I am confident the servers and kitchen will be happy to help.

We were the last table in the place when we left around 10:00.  I try hard not to be that table.  Keeping staff waiting to do their final chores doesn’t sit well with me.  Still, every single member of the staff gave us a very warm goodbye on our way out.  That says it all for me.  Five stars!

Time to go outside.  Enjoy your weekend.

Everyday Bicycling

Here’s a book you need to read–Everyday Bicycling by Elly Blue.  img_4776

No need to take my word for it.  You know Jan Heine, Editor, Bicycle Quarterly?  If you don’t, start here.  The guy is three steps beyond magical.  I was poking around his blog and then his online bike shop, Compass Bicycles, when I came across the book.  The shop’s blurb:

From a review in Bicycle Quarterly Vol. 11, No. 4 (Summer 2013):

If I had to select a “Bicycle Book of the Year,” this might be it. It’s a much-needed, easy-to-read and yet comprehensive primer about riding a bike in the city.

Bicycles appeal to many people, but few non-cyclists appreciate that there is more involved than balancing on two wheels and staying away from cars. There is much to learn about cycling, and Portland bike blogger Elly Blue sets out to teach you what you need to know.

The result is an insightful, balanced and eminently readable manual about cycling. For example: “Here are three maxims for riding a bicycle on the road: Put safety first, for yourself and others. Be courteous second. Third, be legal.”

Old me would have bought the book from Compass in a heartbeat.  Grant from Riv taught me that I should buy a book from the shop that brings it to my attention rather than heading off to a discounter.  The new me starts searches for books at my local library.  Sorry Jan!  The Voorheesville library had it and it was delivered to my local branch in a couple of days.img_4820

Plowed through the book in a couple of hours and I highly recommend it.  Much of it reinforced what I have learned.  That’s nice in and of itself.  But there was much to learn, too.

The Get Organized chapter was the most helpful to me.  You know I’ve been lone wolfing it while advocating for positive bicycle changes here in Albany, but this chapter reminded me of the benefits of working with others.  Might be time to reconnect with the Albany Bicycle Coalition (if they’ll have me).

People thinking of procreating will benefit from the chapter on Family Bicycling. I don’t have a kid but you know I want a bakfiets (which I now know is pronounced bock-feets).  I want to live in a world where folks buy bakfiets so they can be ready to carry stuff around that they never end up carrying around, just as too many people needlessly buy pickups today.

The traffic tips in How to Ride a bike are cursory, but Blue is smart to recommend reading John Forester’s Vehicular Cycling materials.  The subject is important and complicated and Forester does such a good job.  Incorporating Forester’s work by reference keeps Blue’s book readable, but this is one recommendation for further reading you should not skip.  Not a self directed learner?    Take a class from an instructor certified by the League of American Bicyclists.  Their instruction and Forester’s techniques are very similar.

I would have thought I’d be safe reading the chapter on Bicycle Adoption, Care and Feeding, but darn it if I am not now considering buying a folding bike!  Might be my chance to buy a bike from the Downtube.  They carry Bromptons and the clear lacquered floor sample really spoke to me.  I didn’t ride it (that would have been followed by throwing my wallet at the employee then and there), but I was impressed by the folding mechanism.  Not only was it easy and quick to fold, it felt very solid when unfolded.  Start an office pool on how long I will last.  Smart money will pick dates in the near future.

So read the book already!  Buy it from Compass so I don’t feel so bad or check it out from the library.  I will return it later today.

Take care!