Life Since June

As my June 2019 post indicated, I’ve been focused much more on living life than photographing or writing about it.

Did I mention it here?  In June, for my wife’s birthday, I got it into my head to bake her a cake.  She requested a cherry chip cake made from scratch.  I ended up more assisting her than making it myself, but she was pleased.  It was good enough to eat.


Frosting also from scratch


Turned out the cake was edible

In July, my family and I motored north to my wife’s family farm in Indiana (I always hate writing ‘in Indiana’ but this time will not find another way to present that data) where my wife was briefly reabsorbed by her family, I spent a lot of time bicycling, and our son hung out with and bonded with his cousins.  I crashed or fell off my bike twice in the same day injuring a different shoulder each time and am still feeling the residual effects of one of the injuries.  Both falls were stupid and each was my own fault – while annoying, that truth actually does help me accept the ongoing pain.   Rode to Muncie, Prairie Creek Reservoir, small municipalities thereabouts.  I saw what looked like a heroes’-gate shrine of some sort.  No hero this writer, I didn’t walk through the gate although I found it open.


Indiana chip and seal road


Nazarene church parking lot where I crashed the first time.  Don’t ask.


Muncie Chic-Fil-A.  I eat there every year.


Only one graffiti snapshot.  Grassroots Christianity is an interesting phenomenon.


Patriotic display in a poor community.  I really liked it.


Heroes’ gate

Sometime during the intervening months, my car hit 222,222 miles, but I snapped the odometer photo at 222,223 – missed it by that much.


Missed it by that much…

Last month, my son and I finally painted the mailbox’s weathered, white wooden post.  My mother has averted her eyes in shame the past 5 – 6 years when she’s come over to the house to visit due to the deficient pride in ownership that neglect has evidenced.  The month before, I finally finished sanding out the damage perpetrated by our yard’s squirrels upon three of my 2005 Pouch RZ96’s cockpit ribs.  I’d left the kayak assembled outdoors and neglected it during a dark period in my life when I worked in an agency maybe best described as the unfortunate-kid-from-the-dysfunctional-family-down-the-street of law enforcement.  About three weeks ago, I re-varnished the squirrel damaged ribs.


I’ve been writing out my thoughts and ideas – working on a conceptualization of a variety of human interaction I refer to as “Shit Room Theory.”  It’s not ready for publication yet and I’m trying to figure out how to manage a lecture on the subject for my YouTube channel.  That said, in its embryonic form, the theory’s been of help to two or three individuals facing a variety of unpleasantness.

After having been in my “new” office since March of this year, I finally last month admitted to myself I was unable to make sense of the room’s shape, its space, for the purposes of hanging my stack of artwork and arranging my furniture.  Once I’d done that, I asked a family friend if she could help me out with the office and within the space of about 4.5 hours, she’d corrected and made sense of my office’s decor – I simply followed instructions and moved things, sorted clutter.  The woman’s a genius.  If it wasn’t a breach of my company’s rules, I’d post a couple of photos to prove it.

Within a couple of days of that, a family very dear to us relocated to Helena, Montana.  Theodore Zachariades has taken a position preaching at a Reformed Baptist congregation not far from that capitol as well as working with a Christian polemics website, Pulpit & Pen.  Although I haven’t had much contact with the Theodore and his family in the past year and a half, my world feels emptier with them hundreds of miles distant.  Not gone, as the Expanded Universe Mandos have it, just marching far away.

Yesterday morning, I assembled the RZ96 and with my son’s help loaded it onto my Volvo’s roof-racks and drove to a nearby slough with a put-in at a rural city park.  I gave the boy the good water shoes and wore a many year’s old pair from Wal-Mart that tore up while we were lining the boat through shallows.  This was his first time in a kayak, and he’d been nervous because he supposed the behemoth unstable.  By day’s end, however, he was comfortable enough to stand while underway to better view the scenery.  I hope you have all been well and that you enjoy the photos.



My son saw what he referred to as a “bees’ nest.” We steered well clear of this hazard.


Second lunch stop.  Dunno whether these were piers from bygone footbridge or part of an equally past-tense dam of some sort.


In the shallows.  That’s a Klepper paddle probably my age.  We did some umbrella sailing early on.  My son didn’t think it would work and was amazed when it did.


This is how I look when I’m smiling.  Obligatory selfie.

Orbea Mystery Ship

Turns out my new bike’s frame probably isn’t made of Columbus Starship tubing, according to the helpful inside sales representative at Orbea USA.  He thinks it is probably made from Columbus  XLR8R tubing.  That said, the frame lacks the usual decal or badge identifying the tubing’s manufacturer and type.  Both, according to the Columbus website, are at the high end of their various aluminum product lines.


On a group ride yesterday (I was able to ride all the hills I had to walk last weekend) the Orbea’s front derailleur cable delaminated and burst through its housing.  Bummer and an expense for me.  Today I drove over to Woody’s Bike Shop where Brian changed out all the bike’s cables and re-wrapped the bars in a blinding yellow that vibrates in harmony with that of the frame’s paint scheme.  I saved a hundred dollars by opting for ordinary, as opposed to Campagnolo cables and housing.  Also reduced the bar’s height by two spacers for better fit.  The visit with Woody and Brian was educational, too, and easily worth the longish drive.


Long past time clean & sweep the garage, as well as paint its interior. A realtor would call that 1974 paneling “dated.”

I rode about 28 miles this afternoon, and the last five or so miles, the seat provided a level of discomfort usually experienced only at about the 60 mile mark.  Either I’ll get used to the seat (which to the good does not numb my external genitalia), or I’ll replace it with another that will hopefully fit better.  Nice day for a ride, though.


Some Thoughts About Cycling Caps

The French call them “casquettes” and it appears cyclists have been wearing them since the early part of the last century.  Who knew, right?

Orbea-SelfieOrbea Cycling Cap

I’ve had an Orbea cycling cap for several years; it was given me by my friend Eric, who also gave me my first road bike, the lightweight 1985 Razesa wonderbike.  I tried on the cap, thought it looked goofy, and put it on a closet shelf.  In May, for an old bikes ride, I again tried it on.  The cap’s bill had been crushed, and I think I may have bent it when I first tried it on attempting to make it look like a more ‘normal’ billed cap.  Anyway, in May, the bill lay kind of flat against my forehead like broken nose.  The look was better, though, with the bill flipped up.  I wore the cap under my helmet and it kept sweat out of my face and protected my eyes from the sun’s glare.

Because I liked the utility of the cycling cap so much, I thought I’d buy a new one for the same effect without the smashed-brim look.  I thought, since they are so cheaply made and flimsy, that they’d be super cheap – almost giveaway items at any local bike shop and free for the cost of shipping online.  I was mistaken.  Since Lovely Stepford has no local bike shop, I looked online.  The lifestyle-chic chuckleheads at Walz want an arm and a leg for their caps.  Nashbar, BikeTiresDirect, PricePoint and PerformanceBike dot com all carry cheaper versions.    Performance Bike, however, appears to sell them cheaper than any other vendor.

I was looking for an Italianate color scheme reminiscent of a pizza box, but was unable to find one I really liked.  Finally, I chose the Europcar cap the color of which is predominately green, but also has some red and white in the design.  Since I drive a European car that is green in color, I felt I could sport the cap without seeming too much a poseur.  In the same way, since I often ride a Spanish bike, I don’t feel badly about wearing an Orbea cycling cap.  Strange, I know, this need to justify what I wear.

1974 Burger King Bonnett

Stop! In the name of all that is rational or right

The Europcar cap seemed like a winner, but when I got it and tried it on, I found it presented, when worn, a sort of puffed-up 1970’s Burger King cap appearance that made me think, “Dyyy-No-Miiite!”  I attribute that puff-bonnett appearance to the darts sewn into the sides of the cap.  Cannot think why the maker would have put them there, but they ruin the look.  The Orbea cap has radial panels meeting in the cap’s center with a distinctive blue strip of cloth sewn over the top.  Below, you will find some comparison photos – they were taken week before last, and that was before the Europcar cap’s one-size-fits-all elastic in the back gave out.



During our family’s recent trip North to the cornfields of Indiana, my young son, while I was busy with something besides bicycling, grabbed up my green Europcar cap and wore it on a trip to the playground.  Next morning, I was unable to find it because it had been left overnight at the playground.  I found it late in the afternoon, where it had been left in the ground-tire mulch and rained on.  The cap’s elastic was had lost its springiness and was completely stretched out.  Photographic evidence from my wife’s camera indicates the boy wore the cap normally while playing, so I can only attribute the loss of elasticity to the cap’s overnight exposure to a rainstorm.  Without the elastic, it’s pretty useless.

The other day, I wrote a review of the cap for the Performance Bike website, but that has still not been posted.  It was not complimentary and contained many of the criticisms posted here, but without the clever illustrations.