Saturday, September 30, 2006

Cycling day

Today I rode to a neighboring town and met up with a friend from boarding school and her family. We attended the oldest daughter's school fair.

Then I rendezvous'd with the PTF family, and four of us rode to a new park that has opened in Los Angeles to attend a Life Can Be So Car-free event. The goats came too, but they rode in the truck.

It was great to see so many bicycles of all different kinds in one place. It was interesting to see the different types of gears, rack and pannier setups, and creative personalization on the bicycles. It was also fun to ride into LA—something I hadn't ventured yet.

Of course, the goats were a big hit!

Afterwards, the bikes were all strapped onto the back of the truck, and we drove back to Pasadena.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Notes of the week

This past week has seemed pretty unproductive on the surface. My sorting project has slowed down, and I didn't do much studying. I'm also beginning to feel the pressure of what I'd like to get done before I leave for Holden Village. It's already been three weeks since I left my job.

On Monday, my friends and I took their goats on a bike ride and walk. The goats are just so cute and fun.

On Tuesday, I rented a car and drove out to see my former pastor who was visiting in Ventura County. We went for a hike in the Rancho Sierra Vista/Satwiwa area of the Santa Monica Mountains. We walked to a waterfall (with only a tiny trickle of water). It was a beautiful day with spectacular views of Boney Mountain and marvelous oaks along the creek.

The rest of the week has been a lot of mulling, reading, and knitting. Here are few of the random paths my mind/reading has wandered.

Pondering friendship. Seasons Of Friendship: Naomi And Ruth As A Model For Relationship by Marjory Zoet Bankson. I found an older edition—much less "prettified"—in the used bookstore. "Ruth listened / heard call / but did not see the path."

Then, wanting to learn more about the author, I found a 1999 interview with Bankson on the Evangelical & Ecumenical Women's Caucus Web site.

This is a site I've read in the past, and, as I looked around again, I found an autobiographical article by David Scholer of Fuller Seminary. Prof. Scholer arrived at Fuller after I left [Edit: We were at Fuller at the same time, but I didn't take classes from him], but I got to know him through one of my friends and spent Christmas with his family and my friend a few years ago.

I also was shocked to learn via a book review that the author of Writing a Woman's Life, Carolyn Heilbrun, committed suicide a few years ago. When I first read Writing in the early nineties, I had bought the book and begun reading it in the town where my parents live and then started to drive back to my house, about an hour away. However, I was so drawn in by the book, I pulled over at a rest stop and kept reading.

Heilbrun on Dorothy Sayers:
[T]he failure to lead the conventional life, to find the conventional way early, may signify more than having been dealt a poor hand of cards. It may well be the forming of a life in the service of a talent felt, but unrecognized and unnamed. This condition is marked by a profound sense of vocation, with no idea of what that vocation is, and by a strong sense of inadequacy and deprivation. (pp. 52-53)
The EECW site and an earlier conversation got me thinking again about the issue of women in the church and home, an issue that has been stored on the high shelves of my mind's bookcases for quite a while. So I took it down from the shelf again and blew the dust off the top edge by reading through the relevant chapter in Willard Swartley's Slavery, Sabbath, War, and Women: Case Issues in Biblical Interpretation (another redone book cover).

Now, onto the weekend.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Flat No. 3

Yesterday afternoon the rear tire on my bicycle went flat for the third time (since I've been keeping track this year). I had just had the bike looked over and adjusted by Justin (scroll down to Bike Repairs) in exchange for doing some editing and was almost home, when I heard a strange sound. As I pulled into my garage, the sound clearly became a hissing noise, and soon the rear tire was deflated. I could see a round flap in tire from where the air was leaking.

It was Sunday afternoon, and I didn't have anywhere to go, so I just left the bike. Then this morning, in an effort to learn how to change my tires more efficiently, I searched the Web and found a couple helpful articles: "Levers? Levers? We Don't Need No Stinking Levers!" by Asa Salas and "How to Fix a Flat Tire on a Bicycle" by Ken Kifer.

First, I was able to hold up my bike, shift the gears, and pedal in place (thanks to my toe straps) so that the chain dropped onto the smallest cog in the rear.

While repairing my last two flats, I just propped the bike on its side, but both articles suggest flipping the bike upside-down onto the seat and handlebars to remove the rear tire. However, my handlebar rear-view mirror prevents me from resting the handlebars on a flat surface. At home, I can rest the bike on two plastic file boxes, which I did. On the road, I would have to dangle the mirror off the side of a curb.

Next, I unlocked the brakes, released the wheel, and removed it. Removing the tire and changing the tube is the easiest part of the process for me. The puncture was caused by a shard of glass still wedged in the tire, which I carefully pried out with the end of a screw driver. (Same type of culprit that caused the previous flat, which also happened just as I was arriving home.)

I haven't yet graduated to patching my tubes. I carry patch kits with me, in addition to a new tube, and should probably patch the punctured tubes I have saved, but that's a future step. Right now, I'm focusing on removing and replacing the wheel properly, so I just use a new tube.

After installing the new tube and pumping it up to an acceptable level (my new hand pump works so much better than the previous micro one), I followed the instructions to fit the wheel back onto the chain and drop it in place. That part is a little complicated, but by being unrushed and trusting the directions, I successfully held up the chain (the top side when the bike is upside-down) using a rag, fitted the smallest cog onto the chain, and let it roll into place.

Then I carefully tightened the quick release lever and made sure I closed it properly this time. (I had been riding around with an open release lever since my last flat.) I turned the bike right-side up and pumped the tire up to pressure using my floor pump.

There is certainly a sense of accomplishment in being able to fix my own flat tires, and I have more to learn. However, I may look into some of the suggestions for preventing flat tires.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006


The past few days have been pretty low-key. Another couple piles of papers rough-sorted into boxes. (I have five boxes into which I'm collecting papers, which I shall then sort further and file later: Academic; General Interest; Church-related; Personal Business; Personal/Keepsakes/Pictures/Recipes.) Some knitting. Paperwork. Watering the church grounds.

Late this afternoon I took the bus and walked to the church, stopping off along the way going and coming back at different stores to pick up needed items. Last week, I bought a bus pass for this month. I live very close to a major bus route and am realizing that one of the reasons I can get by without a car is that I am not dependent only on my bicycle. When I don't feel like riding (or getting sweaty) and my destination is close to a bus route, I just hop on the bus. I wouldn't have that advantage in a more rural setting.

I have also been reading a book (again) that was given to me when I moved to California over twelve years ago, Transitions: Making Sense of Life's Changes, by William Bridges. Bridges discusses adult developmental theory, as well as cultural and mythic traditions associated with life stages and changes.

It was reassuring then to read that a pivotal time for many people is as they approach 30, as I was. Now, on the other side of 40, I am recognizing some of the shifts Bridges describes that can occur around mid-life ("a growing concern for meaning and a loss of interest in simple performance" [p. 46; see also p. 76]).

Bridges emphasizes the importance of endings, a "neutral zone," and then new beginnings, following a fundamental pattern of nature. An important aspect of navigating the neutral zone is to spend time alone.
We need not feel defensive about this apparently unproductive time-out at turning points in our lives, for the neutral zone is meant to be a moratorium from the conventional activity of our everyday existence. [...] In the apparently aimless activity of our time alone, we are doing important inner business. Walking, watching, making coffee, counting the birds on the phone wire, studying the cracks in the plaster ceiling over the bed, dreaming, [waiting for the bus to arrive, knitting, sorting papers into piles, moving books from one shelf to another, jbb] waiting for God knows what to happen, we carry on the basic industry of the neutral zone, which is attentive inactivity and ritualized routine. (p. 114)
Bridges states that in some traditional societies initiation rituals included a person spending time alone in the wilderness in order to cultivate different levels of awareness and knowing. These days, the neutral zone is often experienced as a feeling of emptiness.
It is the phase of the transition process that the modern world pays least attention to. Treating ourselves like appliances that can be unplugged and plugged in again at will or cars that stop and start at the twist of a key, we have forgotten the importance of fallow time and winter and rests in music. We have abandoned a whole system of dealing with the neutral zone through ritual. (p. 130)
So I am dipping into Bridges' book again as a guide during another time of change.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Organizing books

To see pictures of my most recent task, click the link and scroll down to the beginning of the September 9 posts.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

New groove

Yesterday I tried my new schedule to see how it would work. Chores and other tasks in the morning. Study in the afternoon. Pleasure reading or handwork in the evening. It worked pretty well. I got a lot of the obvious clutter picked up throughout the house. Wrote thank you notes. This morning I cleaned the refrigerator and vacuumed.

Yesterday afternoon I started working on Sunday's lesson. I also spent probably too much time online after I finished studying around 3:00.

In the evening I read a few chapters from John Seymour's book, The Fat of the Land, about the Seymours' first years on their small homestead in England.

Eleutheros at How Many Miles from Babylon just finished a series of posts about his "scheme and philosophy" of homesteading. (See the July 2006 archives, beginning with the July 25 posts; August 2006; ending with September 1, 2006.) I've been reading through his assignments and have now started the second group of books.

Part of my experiment in these next months is to figure out if there's a way I can earn a living while also learning about and working on my family "homestead," thus carrying on my grandparents' tradition. (See my April 2005 posts and early May 2005 [scroll down].)

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Second day

Today started early. I'm still on my biking schedule, which is good, because I can a lot done before it heats up too much.

Yesterday I took it pretty easy, as I was sore enough not to want to do too much physical labor. A half-hour massage at Wild Oats helped. I also picked up a few groceries while there. I took the bus there and back.

Riding the bus is a good way to keep in touch with the variety of people who live here. While I was waiting for the bus back home, a few clusters of students from a very exclusive private school walked by. Their youth, beauty, privilege, intellectual and material resources were a clear contrast with some of my fellow bus riders.

This morning I soaked in the tub for a while to further relax my muscles. Then I scrubbed the tub and cleaned the sink. Next, I cleared out the tomato plant and poles beans from the garden. Then I rode down to Skein to pick up the latest Interweave Knits magazine. I also bought The Best of Knitter's: Jackets for Work and Play.

In the afternoon I took a nice nap and then walked down to Archives to browse. I'm planning to discuss an article on Paul and Luther for the Adult Forum at church starting again in a week, and I need to do some intensive studying as it is an unfamiliar topic for me, particularly the controversy the author discusses. (Quibble: the article misspells the name of E. P. Sanders. [Update 9/7/06: The online version has been corrected. Also, the link has been updated to display the full article.])

I'm giving myself a few days to become "acclimated" to my new life. Then I need to get focused and disciplined about accomplishing what I hope to get done during the next weeks. I can too easily fritter away time with desultory reading or browsing. Plus, without an income, I'll need to watch the book buying....

Friday, September 01, 2006

First day

Well, I am sitting in front of my computer at home instead of at work. Now, home is work again.

My last day at work ended up being much more eventful than planned. There was the expected rush of last minute instructions, dispensing of files, and forwarding of e-mail messages to those taking over my responsibilities. There were the bittersweet goodbyes and touching notes from colleagues. There was the liberating dumping of files into the shredding bins. There was the ever-present sense just below the surface that I was leaving (again) a company I'd been associated with for eleven years.

But added to the emotional mix were the physical reminders of a body that had been in a bicycle crash that morning on the way to work, which added another surreal dimension to the day.

I was over half way to work. I had just crossed the railroad tracks when I saw an unleashed dog to my right on the sidewalk. The dog saw me and decided I was a good target for a chase. The dog was so close that there was no way I could outride it. I had slowed down to cross the tracks so tried to speed up, but I had no chance. The dog ran straight in to my bike and knocked me over. There were vehicles behind me, but they had also slowed down for the tracks. I know a motorcycle rode around me, but I don't remember anything else.

The dog was hit pretty hard, too, and ran back down the cross street into a nearby yard. I got up and pushed my bike to the sidewalk. My stainless steel water bottle was lying in the road so I picked up that, too. (It now has more dents.)

I didn't seem to be very injured. Some scrapes and bumps, but nothing major. My glasses were slightly bent, so I knew it would have been much worse if I hadn't been wearing a helmet.

The bike seemed to be in pretty good shape, except the handlebars were askew. I think having the pannier stuffed with my work clothes, shoes, and toiletries helped cushion the bike. The wheels weren't bent but the handlebars were in a right-hand turn position relative to the front wheel. I tried unscrewing a sunken bolt thinking that would allow me to straighten out the handlebars, but I couldn't loosen it.

Once I got the chain back on, the bike seemed to ride fine and the brakes worked. So I tried riding with the askew handlebars. If I didn't think about the position of my hands but concentrated on the feel and direction of the wheels, I could ride fine. So I rode the rest of the way to work with my handlebars in a perpetual right-hand turn position even though I was riding straight ahead. I was extra careful when making actual turns.

I got to work on time. Later in the morning, I asked one of my colleagues to help me with my bicycle. It was parked in the type of bike rack that has slots for the front wheel so that the bike is held upright by the front wheel. He merely torqued the handlebars into position—no loosening of bolts required.

So I learned yet something else about the mechanics of bicycles. There is enough give in the handlebar stem so that the handlebars can be adjusted relative to the frame by holding the frame straight and moving the handlebars.

In the afternoon, my colleagues gave me a delicious farewell cake. I logged off my computer, turned in my ID badge, changed into my riding clothes, and headed to some friends' house for a celebratory dinner.

They live in Sierra Madre, about 12.5 miles from work. It was nice route, with a very steep climb at the end. I took a bath and enjoyed a delicious dinner of fish, grilled vegetables, homemade bread, and fruit, along with good conversation.

By then the soreness from my crash earlier and from riding with the handlebars askew was beginning to manifest itself, so when my friends offered to drive me home, I accepted. It would have been a beautiful night ride home, but I thought I better not push it.

I slept pretty well. This morning I inventoried my scrapes, bumps, and bruises. I'm sore, but it will go away in a day or two. I'm grateful that I wasn't hurt worse and that the bicycle is fine. I hope the dog was frightened enough not to chase bicycles again.

So, now on to the rest of the day's agenda.