I wouldn’t describe kale greens as “glorious”

Self-indulgent Backstory

Two or three years ago, as an adult, I got braces. I don’t recall whether I ever mentioned that here.

When I got braces, I quickly discovered I’d have to change my eating habits. They’ve been off now for about a year, but at least one of the dietary changes I made for braces has proved a keeper.

Before braces, I ate a bowl of oatmeal with raisins every day for breakfast, usually eaten the consistency of cookie dough and sometimes with chocolate chips. Cinnamon, brown sugar also. Something about that mix – probably mostly the scalding raisins – gave me a bad sensory interaction with my braces.

My wife had started making kale smoothies using the individual blender cup that came with our factory refurb Ninja Blender set of devices. They looked like alligator vomit but actually tasted pretty good. No sensory malfunctions associated with consumption of this meal substitute.

Seriously, This is a Great Breakfast

I started making these smoothies myself when my wife several times balked at preparing them for me. I like the ones I make better than those my wife makes. These sludge mixes taste surprisingly good. Here’s how I make them using the large Ninja blender container:

  1. I dump in 24 ounces of almond milk. I prefer chocolate but my wife never buys it because she thinks it too fattening. Almond’s don’t really have teats and I’m sure the process used to wring “liquid” from almonds actually uses whatever’s left over from packaging almonds for sale.
  2. I add grape juice or grape extract.
  3. I add some “essential oil” blend made from, it smells like, mint and grapefruit.
  4. I add a couple of bananas
  5. I add one or two cups of quick oats
  6. I sprinkle some cinnamon
  7. I sprinkle some chili powder
  8. I dump in some chia seeds.
  9. I add two or three tablespoons of flax seed
  10. I add about four tablespoons of powdered peanut butter
  11. Sometimes, I’ll dump some yogurt into the mix
  12. I stuff the blender with kale greens or spinach leaves. I prefer the spinach but for some reason, my wife usually gets kale.
  13. I run the blender to mix this stuff down to sludge.
  14. Sometimes I add more kale or spinach.
  15. I typically dump in some water or coffee
  16. I add some coconut oil – in order to properly digest some of that ruffage, a little oil is necessary
  17. Finally, I add some frozen blueberries
  18. Then I blend all that for awhile

Today’s sludge had a bowl of pomegranate seeds in the mix.

Yes, it takes a few minutes to make Nutri-Sludge, but large pitcher of it lasts two or three days as a breakfast drink. And it tastes better than it sounds like it would taste. Have you ever read Sax Rohmer’s Fu Manchu series? This stuff reminds me of the longevity mix the insidious Fu Manchu requires Dr. Petrie to compound for him in exchange for ceasing his interference with Petrie’s relationship with the former Egyptian slave girl, Karameneh.

Give it a try and see if you achieve length of days and domination of a secret Oriental society.

These are amazing, not glorious, but amazingly good

Early Mornings but Little Motivation

I got up around 4:00 a.m. this morning and yesterday morning planning to get a cup of coffee and ride my bike to the gym, but instead, both yesterday and today, I had my coffee and read the news.  This morning I think I will work out here at the house, but yesterday I engaged in no fitness activities whatsoever.  Did some other stuff like help out a neighbor and attend my son’s first soccer game of the season, then socialized with other parents afterward at the local Chic-fil-A restaurant.  I almost never socialize with anyone, but sort of enjoyed the time I spent with both my own family and others from the sportsfield group.

My wife, who earlier in the morning looked after her friend’s three young children d/t a family emergency, wanted me to check an email we received to determine whether we’d had our data compromised in the recent Equifax data breach and I got side-tracked deleting some 2200 emails from the family email account my wife uses.  There’re probably about that many more that need purged.  No, we didn’t get any Equifax notification.

Finally, I tore myself away from the computer and drove out to my mechanic’s garage on the off-chance that he’d be there working on a Saturday.  He often does work Saturdays and holidays, but doesn’t answer the phone on those days.  The car I’ve been driving since my green ’98 XC70 was totaled last summer by a young woman who had lterally gone off her meds a week or two prior to the wreck.

Apparently some previous owner had a mechanic (or did it himself) who hard-wired one of the low-been headlight bulbs.  Now, after seven years, it’s gone out.  I ordered some replacement bulbs to change them out, myself, but found yesterday morning the wired-in problem.  Hence the need for professional intervention.  I may drive out the garage again, today, because the place was closed up when I got there, yesterday.

On the way back to the house, I stopped at a produce stand and got my wife some tomatoes for BLT sandwiches.  Our backyard garden hasn’t produced much.  Three green tomatoes out there, now.  Not much else besides, although the various plants seem to be okay.  About a 30 mile round trip, but not completely wasted.  I hate driving around with a headlight out – it feels shameful not having something that basic tended to.

Did I mention I’ve been reading a lot, this year?  Mostly Star Wars “Legends” novels – way more entertaining than the lame SJW-inspired Disney sponsored novels that are now, supposedly, “canon.”  By “reading a lot” I mean wasting a lot of time reading novels like some people eat candy.  My mind is probably getting fat and lazy and my brain fit for maybe the glass-jar equivalent of soft, fast-food and ice-cream stained couch.  Did I mention I had a milk-shake yesterday at lunch.  See?  It’s not just my brain that’s deteriorating here.

My wife reports my son has complained that I’ve been spending too much time reading and not enough time playing with him – hunting each other with Nerf guns outside Son-on-Scooter versus Dad-on-Foot dodge-the-scooter driveway game; backyard target shooting with the Tippman 98 (ours has been modified for killing grackles); building with Lego blocks, etc.  So, late yesterday afternoon when my son was too worn out from a day playing soccer and running around outside with friends while watching other teams’ games, I got another Mojang account so he and I could multi-play Minecraft on our LAN.  THAT was pretty time-consuming.

Next week, I’m scheduled to preach at our congregation’s worship meeting.  I don’t think I’m very good at that kind of speaking.

I think part of what’s getting in the way of my preferred leisure activities is that I know I’ve got two or three responsibilities I’ve got to carry out and have been procrastinating about getting them done.  That’s weighing on me and obstructing the clarity of purpose and function that equals motivation I seem to’ve been lacking recently.  To the good, I haven’t been binge-watching series on Netflix.

That’s all for today.


Sick at Home on a Holiday Weekend

I’ve frankly admitted in this space earlier this month that I’ve been eating foolishly for about the past 40 days.  That, along with reduced opportunities for high intensity exercise, has resulted in a net weight gain of about six pounds.  My gut sticks out like I’m a few months pregnant and what I seem to be in danger of giving birth to is a fat, middle-aged man.  Oh, and the beard.  The beard has made it all seem worse.

For all that, I’ve taken what opportunities I can find to ride and have renewed my upper body strength training regimen.  Age doesn’t have to be about getting fat and weak.

After my cold, damp ride Thursday, my family and I drove to my mom’s house to celebrate Thanksgiving with the extended family.  Relatives from several states, as well as some living nearby, filled my mother’s house for the holiday meal.  The kitchen table held turkey, ham, gravy, and dressing.  The countertop under the china cabinet was covered with side-dishes.  One common ingredient to many of the sides was cheese.

I would guess that most of the adults present for the holiday feast consumed about 3000 calories.  Heck, I know I did, and the food was delicious.  In addition to the main and side-dishes was a counter covered with salads, and another surface covered with desserts.  About salads and The South – most congealed salads (except tomato aspic, I think it’s called) are really sweet jello desserts; the salad is the first dessert course.

Friday, at the workplace, I felt funky all day and cognitively off-key.  I said, at one point in late afternoon, “vital sounds” instead of “vital signs,” which I hope does not portend an amnestic disorder of some kind.  For lunch, I had a small meal from the cafeteria – not only because I felt ill, but also because I wanted to get an early start on my Disciplined December regimen.  My gut ached, my head throbbed slightly, and my lower back also ached.  I could not wait to get home.

Driving a car is easy, especially when it is an automatic transmission Swedish station wagon.  Back home, I thought I could relax and just crash, but we’d been invited to supper at Mom’s house where also present were my younger brother and his family.  We stopped at the store to buy a loaf to make garlic bread, and I filled up the red car’s tank at the gas station.  At Mom’s house, I tried to dial back my feeding, having only half a piece of chicken parmesan, and just one serving of spaghetti noodles, salad, and so forth.  I didn’t make a pig of myself.  Shortly after supper, chills set in and not long after that, we went back home. 

I spewed, then conked out in the spare bedroom with a towel and a Rubbermaid tub next to the bed.  Turns out they were unnecessary.  Saturday, one of the loveliest Thanksgiving Day Weekend Saturdays on record here at Stepford, I spent most of the day in bed, sleeping.  I probably ate no more then four or five hundred calories.  My gut continued to ache, as did my head and lower back.  I did, however, seem to have no further confusions of speech, but I didn’t talk a lot that day.

Because I was sick, I didn’t get to take my son outside, ride my bike, or enjoy an unexpected visit from dear  friends who passed by on their way home to Chattanooga.  Truly a wretched day of rest.

Sunday, I got up and taught (if you could call it that) my regular Sunday School class at the congregational meeting place (I need to update the Strip Mall Church page, because a lot’s happened with the congregation since I last made an edit there).  I went back to the house while my wife and son were at worship service, and rested a bit.  Still feeling pretty bad, but better than Saturday, I mowed and mulched up the thousands of leaves littering the yard.  Then, I got the Christmas decorations out of the attic so my wife could fill the house with visual reminders of the coming Holiday.  I think we forgot the Advent calendar, though.

I was able to eat Sunday, but by evening, felt chilled and checked my temperature.  Had a fever.  Had a lousy night’s sleep, and went to the local walk-in clinic first thing this morning.  The NP prescribed antibiotics for what he reckoned is a “stomach bug.”

So much good weather and so many opportunities for exercise and cycling, and opportunities to spend time with people I love as well as people I like, spoiled by a bacterium and its progeny.

Thanksgiving Day Ride 2014


With two days off mid-week, I got a couple of rides in.  Yesterday afternoon, I rode through some of the local neighborhoods.  After running a couple of errands this morning, in the cold and damp, I put the local frisbee-golf course to better purpose than that designated for it by the City of Stepford.  Open fields and muddy, wooded tracks made a pretty good cyclocross course, as did some disused “Outdoor Classroom” nature trails.  Here’re two shots of the Origin8 Gary 2 handlebars on the Super Nova:


Then I rode through some of the city’s worst neighborhoods to get to Old Pixley Highway.  I turned left on J.C.Penny road; where it meets Bronze Bather Falls Road, though, instead of riding on down to the Falls, I turned left.  At the top of the hill, I stopped at the No Ethanol gas station and ate a Larabar.  Then, I rode the few miles back to the house in time to shower and change for Thanksgiving Day meal with the extended family.


While riding though the uneven terrain of open fields, as well as on twisting, muddy, rutted trails of the frisbee-golf course, my bike’s Continental Tour Ride tires handled and held up superbly.  Mud tends to cake up on the tires either side of the raised center strip.  The tires didn’t skid or slide at all on the muddy trails, in the leaves, over broken branches and slick wooden bridges.  On damp pavement, the tires also handled extremely well.  So far, so good, for the 2007 Jamis Super Nova rain and winter bike.  Below are a couple of pictures showing the manner in which mud cakes up on the Continental Tour Ride tires:


Return to Asheville–Part Three


A little over one year ago, I returned to Asheville to meet Brian Rider and exchange my 1962 Pionier 450 S kayak for a small sum of money and a 1990’s mid-range lugged steel Mississippi-built Schwinn Traveler bicycle in celeste green with Suntour drivetrain.  A little higher end and more modern groupset than what I’ve got on my Miyata.  Swapped the bike to my friend, Bruce, in exchange for some metal-smithing, and he’s made it ride-able, but has yet to venture with it beyond his neighborhood.  Also, he’s scared of wearing Lycra.


I got two blog-post installments written and published here, but before I could really begin the third, got what turned out to be a life-changing injury on a Friday afternoon in September, then found kittens on our front porch and had to teach them to feed and find homes for them, then had to deal with the ensuing flea-infestation after the cats had got homes, then hit the half-century mark, then embarked on a complete vocational rethink that involved considerable upheaval.  Difficult it is returning to something left off after this much time has elapsed.  I’d planned something more elaborate, but this post may end up as more of an image-dump than a cohesive narrative providing a meaningful end to the two posts preceding it here and here.  Click on any picture for a full-sized version.


The Cat That Walked By Himself

The Cat

Although I like to think of myself, and actually do often function, as independent of most people in many circumstances, that’s probably an adaptation I’ve made to a social awkwardness you’d have to be me to understand.  I’d been looking forward to a chance to visit with Eric, my best friend from seminary days.  Eric’s niece, a young woman who is a freelance writer as well a musician, also planned to meet us for supper and accompany us to a local music festival.

Monkeying Around

I got up pretty early Saturday morning and looked up local bike shops in order to engage in a little bicycle tourism.  I picked out three or four shops in the Asheville area and wrote out their addresses, took a shower, went downstairs for breakfast, finished getting ready and then headed out.

I remember my dad once telling me that, according to his then recently acquired religious orientation, it is considered unethical to enter a retail business having previously made up one’s mind not to buy anything.  He said that would produce a false hope in the mind of the shopkeeper, and that it’s plain wrong to intentionally disappoint another person, especially in regard to his or her livelihood.  My intent that morning?  I was shopping for bargains – maybe some heavily discounted Endura shorts or some chain-lube or an incredible deal on some new old stock bike that’d been gathering dust under a stairwell or had been demoed for a couple of years.  Also, Asheville’s a little cooler, weatherwise as well as in a social sense, than Stepford, and I’d forgotten to bring a windbreaker or sweatshirt, so I reckoned I needed one of those, too.

The first bike shop I went to was near a Walgreens on the city’s outskirts, but not far from the hotel, in a newer brick stripmall, but it was closed when I got there.  I did stop in at Walgreens and buy a good toothbrush, because I’d forgotten to pack one and the toothbrush supplied by the hotel as a courtesy was not fit for the purpose.

After that, I drove to the local R.E.I. which is situated in a sort of outdoor mall intended to resemble a groovy urban village public space and square.  Actually not horrible, and with adequate parking, families out for early strolls with their little ones in strollers, kind of upscale.  I got a gray, house brand water-resistant hooded, full-zip synthetic material sweatshirt on sale and some waxy chain-lube.  Then I drove on the freeway to the other side of town where there’s a large, upscale, full-service bike shop on the property of a large shopping mall of the sort that sprang up in many places about 20 years ago.

I test-rode or demoed a 2012 Raleigh cyclocross bike in carbon fiber all over the largely deserted parking lot and the adjacent huge new-car dealer’s lot.  What a great bike, but the price was still beyond what I could justify spending, even at a large discount.  One of the guys at the shop had previously lived at Stepford and worked at a bike shop in Stepford when the town had a bike shop, back in the 1990s.  He sent greetings to one of the founding members of the Stepford bike club, and I wrote down his name and eventually did pass along the greeting.

After that, having spent the greater part of the morning out looking at bikes and driving around, I went back to the hotel.  Eric called up after a little while and arrived by about lunch time, I think.


We drove to the downtown area where Eric managed to score the best parking place in Asheville – a prime slot with a municipal canvas bag padlocked over the space’s parking-meter.  Weather was amazingly pleasant – clear, blue skies, warm, sunny, cool mountain breeze – really beautiful day.  The sidewalks were crowded with walkers, buskers in evidence everywhere.  I listened to the Carolina Catskins at one corner and bought one of their homemade CDs (turns out they’re A LOT better live than recorded).  I snapped a photo of the band – the female playing the washboard looks irked at being photographed (indeed, I have taken her soul captive thereby – not really; what would I do with it?).  The woman with the dog was not, as I recall, a band member – she just looked like a spacey hippie and seemed to want to be a part of the picture.


Monkeying Around

I don’t remember clearly, but I think Eric and I had both eaten something before we met at the hotel on Saturday.  We did, I think, get something to eat while out walking around.  I snapped a bunch of pictures – amazing sights in Asheville.  I liked the old buildings, odd retail establishments, and the crowded streets.  There was a even a pedal-powered pub, allowing patrons to legally drink and drive, after a fashion.  Saw a transvestite costumed as a nun riding around on a strange bicycle.  Saw some different bikes chained up; I guess bicycle theft is a problem at Asheville.  Here are a few photos:






Hearn’s Bicycle Shop


Hearn’s Cycling and Fitness, actually; they claim to be the oldest continually operating bike shop in the United States.  Eric and I stopped in there and looked around.  That’s Eric in the picture above and left in the blue shirt and tan hat.  Hearn’s has a bewildering array of used bikes, funky bikes, super old bike, really odd bikes hanging from the ceilings and in racks on the garage floor.  The building’s obviously a former garage, possibly auto dealer property.  The building looks as if it were built about the middle of the last century.

The fellow with whom Eric is exchanging speech in the image above is, if I recall correctly, named Clark, and he was an interesting and helpful fellow.  If I had to guess, I’d say his FSIQ falls in the well-above-average range of measured intelligence.   The bike he’s holding in both pictures is consists of a 58 or 59 cm (it’s bigger than you’d think if you judged it solely by the headtube) Milanetti lugged steel 1980s frame with full Campagnolo groupset, don’t recall wheels and hubs, and cage pedals.  The bike’s gears are indexed and shift at the brake levers – to me, totally space-age refinements of bicycle technology.  I liked the bike, but couldn’t justify expenditure of $500 that day in Asheville.  Since then, I’ve occasionally regretted not buying the bike.


That August 2013 weekend I went back to Asheville was the last weekend of the mountain music festival called Shindig on the Green, and that turned out to be the reason I’d been unable to find inexpensive lodgings near downtown.


Megan Northcote, Eric’s niece, accompanied us to supper at a vegetarian restaurant the name of which I no longer recall, and then to the music festival, and then on a walk through the downtown area where we observed graffiti, street musicians and doorway singers.  When we met her at her apartment, she agreed to play the banjo for us – she is musically inclined and I asked her to play the song she liked best.  Below’s a still snapped while she was tuning the instrument, and then a short video Megan playing a song the name of which I noted at the time, but have forgotten.  Well, the short video if I can figure it out after posting this from Windows Live Writer.  She was unwilling to sing while she played, although I would guess she has as pleasant a singing voice as her speaking voice.


We ate dessert at a red, double-decker bus that’s been permanently moored and converted for use as a coffee-shop/confectioner’s shop.  I took way too many pictures there because I thought it looked really cool and I liked the ceiling.


The festival musicians and singers ranged from traditional bluegrass or folk singing about spiritual strength and bearing up under the vicissitudes of a life sometimes harsh but worth living to dirty-living trash-culture singing about and taking perverse pride in booze and infidelity.  You may as well know I preferred the former.


Asheville appears to have a vibrant street-musician scene.  During my earlier walkabout with Eric, I noted an older man playing a zither near a hookah bar, as well as the Carolina Catskins, already mentioned.


After the sun had set, Megan, Eric, and I walked around the downtown area where we watched and listened to various street performers and artists.  One of the singers, and I am annoyed with myself because I didn’t get her name, sang the ABSOLUTE best version of Funny Valentine I’ve ever heard.  That song’s a sort of benchmark by which I measure the talents of buskers wherever I find them.  This lady belted out a version that nearly stole my soul –  I mean, it was a moving, evocative rendition of that old song.  My stars, but I was an idiot not to have gotten her name.  If there’s going to be choir in heaven, and this lady’s numbered among the elect, she’ll be in it.  There she is, in the picture below



We also saw a man juggling tools including, if I recall rightly, chainsaws.  I feared for the safety of the children crowded around with their parents.  The guy had an array of household items and tools on the sidewalk, around where he stood, and he invited the children to choose things for him to juggle.  From what I could see, his performance was flawless, but I stood well enough back to avoid getting struck by anything if he missed.  Didn’t get a picture or a video – the Iphone’s limited as to shutter speed and low-light video.  A woman standing near the juggler sketched portraits and was remarkable for her graceful posture.  We also saw a bigger band, similar in composition to the Catskins, but with a different sound, playing and singing a song the chorus of which I recall went something like, “There’s soooooo muuuuuuuch bloood.”  The woman with the banjo, center, was the one singing, and she sang the words slow and with an audible awareness of the oddity of meaning that I was not expecting.



The rest of these pictures are all out of sequence, but they’re snapshots I took of graffiti I saw while we were walking around Saturday.  Megan surprised me with a spontaneous and clever photobomb; I was really annoyed for a second until I realized what a cool thing she’d done.  But joking I did ask her what her parents would think.  The Charlie Brown artist’s work I saw two or three places around town, and I liked it best.  I probably have some more graffiti pictures, but I think the time has come to abandon composition and publish this post.



2014 Tour de Corn–Part 1

Mr. Badwrench

This year, I started my Tour de Corn sans bicycle having maladjusted the Miyata’s rear derailleur in an attempt to correct a shifting problem. Probably should have taken a picture of the results of my labor, but didn’t think of it until right now. Mr. Badwrench – that’d be me.

Razesa Unsuitable for Longer Rides

The Razesa I’ve found increasingly problematic for longer rides because the ancient Master saddle numbs my genitalia after about 20 miles, the bike’s handlebars are too narrow for my shoulders on longer rides, and the Gimli’s axe-head MKS Lambda pedals don’t work well with stiff-soled cycling shoes I like to wear on longer rides.

Mechanical Intervention

I took the Miyata to Indiana after contacting Michael at Greenway 500 to see if he could address the bike’s problems on the day after my family was scheduled to arrive at the farm. Michael wrote back saying he does not schedule mechanical interventions on Saturdays, his prime retail sales day, but I could take my chances and show up with the bike. The bike might be ready in a few minutes to several hours, depending.

By the time I arrived at Greenway 500, Michael was helping another customer whose mountain bike’s presenting problem was repeated flatting. He treated the condition, in consultation with the bike’s owner – a normal-seeming guy not quite sixty who reminded me of Roman legionnaire – not very tall, but alert and competent-seeming without the overweening arrogance one finds in some ‘elite’ cyclist types.

I didn’t mind waiting, and learned something about mountain bike tires, rims, tubes, rim-tape, spokes, and so forth by paying attention to the conversation.

Michael’d got a couple of new chairs for the shop from Ikea which inspired greater confidence than the worn-out Labrador couch that’d been in the shop for the last couple of years I’d visited. With the exertion of effort with both hands, the rear derailleur was separated from the metal pie-pan spoke protector adjacent the freewheel, followed up by other needed adjustments. Apparently, I’d done the bike’s drive-train no permanent harm. Also got new bar-wrap. The old had been shredded on the left side, where I’d crashed once and the bike had fallen maybe twice. I completely chickened-out in the colors department and went with brown, again. The Salsa tape looks great, though, so I’m happy with my choice.

I don’t think I rode anywhere Saturday, maybe four or five miles? Dunno.

Fat Sunday

Sunday morning we went to church service with the family at the large denominational First Church where my wife and I were married on a cold day about 15 years ago. The old building’s roof fell in, and the congregation has a large, new facility. That Sunday’s program was the church’s Vacation Bible School finale.

Weird Animals

The VBS had acquired it’s material from Group, Inc. – the Weird Animals theme: . Each age group from the VBS stood up front, the an adult leader said something about the children’s participation during the previous week, and the children sang a song or two learned during the week. On large video screens all around the auditorium, while the children stood up on the platform in rows to sing their songs, slick music videos for each of the songs played. Bright, flashy colors and a lot of movement from cameras and happy-looking young people, in addition to an overwhelmingly loud audio presence repeatedly derailed my attempts to pay attention to the flesh and blood kids up front in the auditorium. I noticed that no one else seemed to be paying attention to the children up front, either. Kind of a lousy thing to do to the kids. I mentioned my criticisms to my father-in-law afterwards, and he said what I witnessed has become the norm for that congregation – loud audio/visual in addition to frequent “technical difficulties” that are actually operator error. Vis-à-vis speaking about my concerns with the congregation’s pastor, my father-in-law shared a phrase he’d learned from his father, “Might as well save your breath to cool your soup.”

Mexico versus Netherlands

We joined another family for lunch after the VBS service at a Mexican restaurant where we were able to watch Mexico v. Netherlands on televisions placed all around the dining area. All of the waiters wore green Mexican national team soccer jerseys. Service was dead slow, but we were able to finish our meal and get on the road before the Orange victory. Predictably, I overate and felt like a fat, hominid slug.

Ride to Farmland


Late Sunday afternoon, I felt I’d sufficiently digested my huge, Mexican meal to get some exercise. Also felt in real need of exercise.

I’ve visited Farmland many times, usually to eat breaded tenderloin sandwich at The Chocolate Moose or buy bulk candy at the General Store, but always I’d got there by car. I decided a long afternoon ride would be just the thing to halt the transformation from Man to Slug I’d begun at lunchtime. Got caught in a thunderstorm cloudburst and waited it out under the eaves of a church building, then rode the rest of the way there.


Have I written lately about how much I enjoy riding chip-and-seal paved country roads? I really like riding them. The American version of cobbled European roads – they are rough and to be endured. They make even poorly paved normal streets seem smooth and finished. Chip-and-seal is what I rode to Farmland, as well as a lot of the other miles I rode during my recent Indiana sojourn.

Farmland Opera House

Eighth Street Opera House, look closely

Farmland was closed for the day by the time I arrived late afternoon/early evening. I rested briefly at a café table outside the Chocolate Moose, leaned my bike up for a picture against the garage door at the General Store (the sign said Open, but the store was Closed), and snapped a couple of other pictures before heading back the way I came. Got a picture Eighth Street (or is it ‘Avenue’) Opera House – look at the picture – it’s a puzzle and if you figure it out, it’ll remind you of a funny song. The woman at the deli counter at what I think was called Jason’s Meat Market – the only business in town open Sunday evening – filled up my water bottle for me.





On the ride back to the house from Farmland, I got bitten by a dog. I’d been chased by three other dogs on the way out, but none got close to catching me, and at least one of the dogs appeared simply to enjoy the contest of speed, bearing on its doggy dial a doggy smile as it ran beside me. The dog that got me was a gray Australian sheep dog with black spots accompanied by a yellow dog of the same breed. I didn’t crash and kept riding, but the damnable cur bit one of my calves, breaking the skin.

I cannot recall the last time I’ve wanted to kill something as badly as I wanted to kill that dog. As I rode, I thought about getting Dr. Walther to accompany me back to the rural trailer from beside which the dogs ran out at me, for a little impromptu vivisection. By the time I got back to the house, though, I had decided to talk it over with my father-in-law to see what he advised. In a recent vocational incarnation, I spent about a year and a half working with a population about half of whom (is ‘whom’ correct here?) qualified for my caseload because they’d failed to control their impulses on a day they should have controlled their impulses.

My father-in-law advised me to contact local law enforcement dispatch to see what they suggested. I did so. The woman who took my call said she would have a sheriff’s department investigator come out and would also send an EMS unit out to have a look at the bite. By the time it was all over, about six shockingly overweight EMS workers (as well as one male of normal weight) came out. They had actually called for an ambulance before coming over to the house which I requested they cancel. Heck, if I could ride the miles back to the house, I could drive myself to Ball Hospital in Muncie if in need of medical treatment. The sheriff’s department investigator was a very normal seeming guy who took my information and said he’d file a report with the state; he said he couldn’t just ride out to the house with me and kill the dog. Although disappointed, I understood that things must be done decently and in order.

Turns out, oddly enough, that the dog’s owner is the daughter of my mother-in-law’s hairdresser. The wound on my calf never festered, although it did bruise pretty badly. I kept it clean and used topical antibiotic. As of this writing, the spot’s still sore if I pinch it, but it seems free of infection. The dog’s owners have quarantined it at the vets, and, since I have not yet suffered material loss, no law suit is currently pending.

Return to Asheville–Part One

Resolving a Contradiction

Many of the problems I have faced in life are attributable to some contradiction.  Resolving the problem involves

a) recognizing the contradiction;

b) applying one’s mind to determine the contradiction’s elements;

c) determining a solution that removes some elements and leaves others which

d) results in a diminution of perceived internal tension or stress, said diminution being an approximation of peace.

A Contradiction

A few weeks ago, I found myself looking at my Pionier 450 S in the driveway.  A couple of months previously, I’d put it there, taking it out of the garage, in order to repair some hull abrasions and get out on the water again.  Instead, I continued to neglect the kayak in the driveway as I had while it was in the garage.  Looking at the hull abrasions and recalling that new abrasions appeared each time I’d strapped the kayak to my car’s racks, I knew that the only real solution was a new hullskin.

There’s a German guy who makes unreal good hullskins for out-of-production folding kayaks.  There’s a Polish company that also manufactures skins for folding kayaks, as well as manufacturing a few models that appear to be Klepper knock-offs.  For what I’d wind up paying the German guy, I could probably buy a new Folbot or get close to the purchase price of a new Seavivor (which is what I’d really like to have).  Although fabulously wealthy in ways most people cannot imagine or begin to measure, I and my wife take pleasure in spending less money than we make.  I feel the need to justify every expense.

In the matter of a new hullskin for the 450 S, I simply could not justify the expense.  The reality is that I have not gone paddling since June 2012.  That is in part due to the fact that I haven’t wanted to completely wreck the Pionier’s skin.  But that is also due in part to other circumstances, among them that I am less willing to spend an entire weekend day away from my wife and son, that for a number of weeks during the spring and early summer my son played T-Ball games on the weekends, that I’ve been learning a new job and have been doing some weekend work, etc.

A Solution

For what it’s worth, and remember, you’re paying nothing for it so make your own assessment, I tend to approach or experience life, happenstance, providence, circumstance as manifestations of a created order that, although vast, is personal even though that personal element – the Creator’s mind and intent – while aware of and interested in me, does not necessarily always reckon my preferences, comfort, and convenience as that upon which the universe pivots.  Still, when I wanted to find a name for Pouch E-68 I bought from Ralph Hoehn, I asked the Almighty for a vision, and while paddling on Woods Reservoir, near the causeway that crosses the lake by the VFW, I saw some campsis radicans, commonly known as trumpet creeper, in bloom and of a color that matched exactly my stout kayak’s faded deck.  Pretty clear, if you’re me.

Close to the last week in July of this year, 2013, I found that I earnestly wished I knew of someone who wanted to buy the Pionier.  Whether I approached the Almighty with this request or not, I cannot recall.  What I do know is that within a week my blog received a comment from Brian Rider of North Carolina to a blog post wherein I presented a few photographs of the Pionier’s frame.

In the event that you would ever be willing to let your Pionier go I would like to introduce myself. My name is Brian and I own a c. 1960′s Pionier 520-Z that I have paddled since about 1985 after it was given to my family by a good friend. The reliable old boat finally fell victim to many years of use and I had to put it up permanently around 1999. I really never thought that I would get the boat back on the water. But recently I sourced a new skin and spray deck (I never had an original spray deck) from Wayland, replaced and restored various frame members that had failed and my work is nearly complete. The boat is currently back on the water for gentle use as I have some details to complete. I am on and have read your story about how you came to own the 450-S. What a find! The condition of your boat is amazing in my opinion as I personally know what a similar boat can look like after forty years of use in South Carolina. Let my boat be stand as an example to how well built the Pionier kayaks are, you have a fine boat. Anyway, as a result of the research that I have done trying to find information about old folders I have gotten the bug to collect and I’m eyeballing your boat. I say that with a smile. Would love to share stories some time.

Pretty clear, if you’re me, that this represented a potentially very good solution to my problem and was likely a providential arrangement made by God.  I haven’t been active on FKO since becoming a father, to the best of my recollection, so this came out of the blue, as it were.

I think I emailed him that evening after one of my son’s activities, and over a couple of weeks we worked out the details which included a trip to Asheville that involved another exchange involving an old, lugged steel bicycle and a folding kayak.  The terms of the exchange didn’t nearly cover the costs of the trip, but since it was a trip I wanted to make, the offset sufficed.  The purchase of an old folding kayak, in my admittedly limited experience, seems something more like adoption than pecuniary transaction.

Since I hadn’t seen my friend, Eric, for probably over a year, I checked to see if he was available to visit at Asheville.

Memorial Day Weekend 2013–Late Post

Over the past weeks I have been busy at work, have been working a lot of extra hours devoting the time to catching up and staying caught up on more routine matters. My work has taken me to a lot of interesting places and promises to continue doing so. In one of the semi-rural county-seats where I conduct some of my work, during a recent lunch-hour I went on walkabout, exploring the old streets of the only partially tenanted downtown district. Some miles of abandoned track that runs clear across town appear to be ready for Rails to Trails greenway transformation.


In another county, I saw purple Jesus statue guarding the corner of someone’s property near a notorious “subdivision” that once billed itself as a “restricted community,” but because the developer back in the Sixties or Seventies failed to arrange for water service to the several-hundred acres “neighborhood,” now more closely resembles a zombie-compound or hippy-camper criminal colony.

Purple Jesus Idol

By the time I get home, I’m often pretty tired, but I cannot always plug in to Netflix and watch Swedish police shows that have subtitles or tune-out and read for pleasure to relax. Mowing season demands more of me; my human body demands fitness activities and my growing son demands a father who will play outside with him. We’ve become involved in an organized sport with our son? That takes up a lot of time, too. He alternately enjoys the games and wants to go home, sometimes in the same five minutes. All this is to say that the Busy Wheel again is turning, and this year it’s started a lot earlier than its usual late-Fall holiday season advent.

I am still recovering from plantar fasciitis. My regular physician, an old-school surgeon, when referring me to a local podiatrist instructed me on no account to allow the man or his associates to perform surgery or to inject the foot as the needle poke will invariably weaken the tendon causing further attenuating likelihood of recovery. He also prescribed a ninety-day course of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medication – Mobic. A Facebook friend, one of those people I’ve never met face to face but would very much like to, strongly recommended massaging the foot to facilitate recovery. The podiatrist affirmed that massage is likely to help because it gets the blood moving and reduces swelling/inflammation. What the specialist prescribed was orthotics and a night-splint, which immediately produced about 30 to 40 percent reduction in pain. Massage, when I take the time to do it, is also a real help. Wearing cycling shoes does help reduce the problem when I ride the Miyata, which has pedals with smaller surface area, but is not usually necessary when I ride the Razesa with its MKS Lambda pedals.

Last year, I joined a local cycling club and since then have participated in a couple of club activities – the 50 mile portion of a century ride and a highway cleanup. A lot of the activities are scheduled at times that conflict with other commitments, and it seems many of the riders enjoy racing or otherwise take cycling more “seriously” than I do. Their rides are at a pace I have trouble maintaining – it’s not just that I ride antique bikes, it’s that I have trouble riding them at the fast pace cyclists rode them when they were new. Not a big deal to me – like my kayaks, I use my bikes for fitness and exploration; that is, getting fit while exploring my environment.


Last weekend, however, the club participated in a ride organized by our small city’s mayor in an effort to encourage local residents to “get off the couch and get outside.” I rode over to the event’s starting point, an elementary school across town, and rode with about 20 others for maybe four and a half miles through that neighborhood at an extremely slow pace – possibly nine miles an hour or less most of the way. This slow pace seemed comfortable, however, for a number of the riders. My normal pace is probably somewhere on the low end of a category between neighborhood cyclist and elite cyclist.

I enjoyed talking with some of the others during the ride. The mayor, who said he was embarrassed that he does not own a bicycle, borrowed one of the police department’s Trek police bikes, sans radio and battery pack to power the blue and white lights on the handlebars. I saw people riding bikes older than mine, some comfort and some hybrid bicycles. A little girl, maybe eight years of age, from the neighborhood had ridden over to the school by herself, played on the playground while waiting for the event to start, and then rode the entire way at the head of the pack, all on a pink and purple girl’s bike. Most of the way, I rode next to a retired engineer who moved to this area from inland California – Riverside. He rode an REI house-brand hybrid bicycle and talked about having ridden Natchez Trace from Franklin to, I think it was, Tupelo, with his brothers.

After the mayor’s ride, I pedaled over to my mom’s house in a nearby neighborhood and imposed upon her for lunch and visited for I don’t recall how long. Then I rode back across town to my own house.


Sunday, I rode my bike to our congregation’s worship service. I teach, if that is the right word for it, a Sunday School class for adults and younger people. My wife has started teaching a class for children aged three to five, so she drove over with our son in one of the cars. Our pastor is teaching a class for children in primary through about eighth grades. The congregational meeting place, a storefront, is not far from the house and takes 10 to 20 minutes to ride, depending on the one traffic light between here and there, whether there’s a headwind, and how fast I feel like riding.

My class is just starting to read through and discuss Paul’s first letter to Timothy, and I’ve been using John Calvin’s commentary on the epistle for reference. Calvin seems to have applied his mind to the text and what he has written contains a lot of sense. He does exhibit in his writing a good deal of antipathy for the Roman Catholic church, but given the manner in which that organization persecuted their “separated brethren” at the time, that bias is understandable and, possibly, commendable. Our pastor’s sermon from First Samuel was excellent. In the evening, I rode back over for a Bible-study dealing Jesus’ commission to the church as told by John in the 20th chapter of his gospel; that bit about forgiving and retaining sins. The discussion was fantastic – for me, this is the sort of thing I love to show up for.

On Monday (Memorial Day in the U.S.), I thought about the men and women who died serving in the armed forces of the United States military. My wife, son, and I grilled out with my mom at her house. I overcooked the hamburgers, but they were edible. My cousin, Allen, joined us and it was good to see him. Allen lives at Nashville and we only get to see him about five or six times a year.

In the evening, back at the house, I hooked up the trailer bike to my wife’s Electra Townie single-speed and rode with my son around the neighborhood. On Saturday, my wife, son, and I rode from our house to a local middle school and back again on neighborhood streets and a bike path. A couple of times our son failed to exercise caution and one time nearly came to grief, so we told him he could no longer “be the front-leader.” He was very unhappy about the perceived humiliation, but we’d rather have a living, healthy, unhappy preschool age child than one who is maimed or dead. Sunday afternoon, the boy said he wanted me to remove the training wheels from his bicycle, and I did. He pronounced the result “too tippy” and asked to have them reinstalled. We’ll see. He’s a pretty independent little guy and seems to master skills without too much trouble. Maybe this coming weekend, he’ll get on the bike a little more.

This Week’s Miscellany

Plantar Fasciitis

In November of last year I took the Miyata 610 for a 17-or-so-mile ride through Stepford’s light industrial area and after that my foot hurt when I walked without shoes in the house.  I thought I’d developed a stress fracture having pedaled wearing soft-soled running shoes instead of a pair of cycling shoes with stiff soles.  I tried staying off the bike for several weeks, tried icing the foot, tried acetaminophen and ibuprofen, but nothing worked.  Finally, I got back on the bike and tried to make sure I used my cycling shoes with the Miyata (less necessary with the Razesa because it’s got the MKS Lambda pedals that distribute force/weight more evenly).

Got an official diagnosis of plantar fasciitis last week from the podiatrist at Pixilie.  The doctor was training a new assistant so did a lot of talking while taking X-rays (cool digital USB stand-on device) and while taping my foot.  He described having been taught to perform a low Dye strapping of the arch by an old doctor who, when young, had been taught by Dr. Dye who was then an old man.  I found the measure really effective for the short term, but taping comes loose after bathing.  Additionally, I was given a night splint and gel heel cups for my shoes, and the doctor suggested stretching exercises.  X-ray images clearly show that I’ve developed a small bone spur at the heel.  The following morning, after having slept in the awkward splint, I found foot pain greatly reduced.  Continued use of it and heel cups after a few days seems to have effected some positive change; I should more regularly perform the exercises suggested, however.


Kirby Sentria Vacuum-Cleaner

The Panasonic upright Caution-Lady bought a few years ago finally broke for the last time – the all-plastic housing into which the roller brackets attached at either end cracked and a piece broke off causing the roller to turn lopsidedly and burn through belts within five or ten minutes.  Last time it broke, it took the local vacuum store (from which we originally purchased the unit) weeks to fix it, they said, because a part was on backorder.  Cost about half as much as the vacuum cost new, if memory serves.  For awhile, we’ve been using the 1984 model Electrolux Silverado DeLuxe canister vac we inherited from Caution-Lady’s grandparents.  The Electrolux has all the original attachments and came with a box full of new bags; it works perfectly, but the long hose, extension tubes with attachments can be difficult to manage.  Also, the plug pulls out of the wall too often when pulling the canister behind while vacuuming.  Nevertheless, it cleans pretty well.

Kirby Model Time-Wave

Because Cautious One again wanted to get an upright vacuum-cleaner and I remember the 1950’s model I bought from the guys at San Pedro Vacuum on Seventh Street below Mesa in about 1992, I started looking for one on Amazon and Craigslist.  The machine worked fabulously and I took it with me to Portland and to Louisville, but left it in Louisville when I moved to Stepford.  It had all the attachments, including grinding wheel and sander; I was a stupid-head to have left it in Louisville (see the model above dated 1956 with the distinctive red trim).  An Amazon seller in Wisconsin was offering the Kirby Ultimate Diamond edition refurbished for $298 and I came pretty close to buying it, but couldn’t find a telephone number for the company on the web to talk to the seller and ascertain what they mean by “refurbished.”  I Craigslist-searched various combinations of terms – Kirby vacuum, Kirby Sentria, Sentria, Kirby sentra (because a lot those people who use Craigslist are lazy spellers), and found several later model units with attachments.  A family over in Pixilie had a Sentria (see the model listed at 2006 on the Kirby model time-wave, above) for $400.    Below is a picture sent by the seller:


I bought the unit for $280, took it home, cleaned the roller, changed the belt (the seller included four new), changed the bag (seller included one extra), cleaned up the fan, and put it to work.  We haven’t shampooed the carpet, yet, but if that attachment/function works as well as the basic vacuum and hose attachments, the marker stains (Seventy-Six) and coffee stains (me) in the den will be history.

Edz Wingz


Friday, I worked in Fayetteville, Tennessee, and had lunch at Edz Wings where, perennially trying to lose five fricking pounds, I opted for a brisket cobb salad instead of the burger, fried green beans, and dessert I wanted.  If you’re ever in Fayetteville, Tuesday through Saturday, during working hours and fail to eat at Edz, you’re making a terrible mistake.  Ed’s the rocket-scientist of smoked meat and sauces; his knowledge regarding same is encyclopedic and his conversation about his work is educational.  Ed also has strong political opinions and his musical tastes seem to run to Blues.

Impromptu Saturday Bike Ride

I don’t like team sports, don’t think they have much value, but most kids seem to like playing them.  My son’s organized sports activities – practices and games – have taken a bite out of my free time for cycling, kayaking, yardwork, etc.  Here lately, I haven’t had time to ride like I want to, but yesterday I took off for about an hour before supper and rode to another place where the paved road ends stopping only at a relatively deep puddle.  If it’d been earlier in the day, I might have gone on even though I don’t think Continental Gatorskin tires are best for cyclocross riding.  The Razesa did fine on dirt and some mud, though, and I didn’t feel like I would have been better off on a mountain bike.