Wednesday, June 29, 2011


My sister is on her way home; her visit stirred memories of my youth, so I thought I’d share a few of them.  Some of these I wrote several years ago and sent to a few of my daughters.  However, they may not have saved them and, as I recall, not all of them had computers at the time.
The earliest memory that I have is when I got my arm caught in a washing machine wringer.  I don’t know how old I was and I’ve never really talked to anyone about it, since there’s no one around anymore to discuss it with.  I know I wasn’t in school yet, as we were still living in the upstairs of Hager’s Garage—we had moved to our basement house by the time I started school, so I would guess I was 4 or 5.  The washing machine was downstairs, in the back room of the garage, which opened into the alley; it was driven by a gasoline motor, so mom would set it in the doorway to the alley to allow the fumes to escape.  I don’t remember whether the wringer ran all the time or if mom just forgot to turn it off.  At any rate, I was fascinated by those two rollers and was ‘teasing’ it by putting my fingers on the bottom roller and seeing how close I could get to where they came together.  The machine finally ‘won’ and began drawing my hand and arm in.  Mom came running in response to my screams and smacked the machine with her hand—I can still see those wringer rollers flying through the air.  She picked me up and ran with me in her arms to Dr. Bakke’s office, which was only a block or so away.  There are really only three things I remember about the rest of the incident. The first is the huge x-ray machine coming down from the ceiling to take a picture of my arm to find out if it was broken; it wasn’t.  Secondly, I vaguely remember being roused in the middle of the night once, and taken to the doctor’s office.  What I don’t remember, but what mom told me later, was that one night, a week or so after the accident, she checked me before she went to bed and found blood all over the bed.  She took me to the doctor right away; she said the doctor told her that I was developing gangrene and that if she’d waited until morning I would probably have lost my arm.  The doctor had to excise all the gangrenous flesh and skin which then led to the third memory—a skin graft.  Dad and I went to the doctor’s office one evening and the doctor proceeded to take about a dozen small plugs of skin from the area of dad’s shoulder blade.  He had a small instrument that removed a plug about ¼ “ in diameter, which he then laid onto my elbow.  I could see some of those circles on my arm until I was in my early 20s.  Although I don’t remember it, mom told me that I had to carry a bucket of sand for a couple of months so the muscles in my arm wouldn’t atrophy.  To this day, I don’t know whether being forced to carry that bucket and use my left arm is what makes me use my left hand for some things or if, not being able to use my left arm, I used my right hand for things for which I would normally have used my left.  At any rate, I remain somewhat ambidextrous today.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Great ride

My sister and her husband decided to go to Yakima today to visit some of his relatives.  That meant I was able to go for a ride and, once again, I did two.  The first was a relatively short six mile run in between doing a couple loads of laundry and it was ok.  The second however, was great!  I started by going out Airport Road; the temperature was in the low 70s and just a hint of a breeze.  I followed Airport Road to its end and started down the old road to Ellensburg.  The sky was a beautiful blue with just a few fluffy clouds; as I crossed the Teanaway River I glanced over my shoulder to see Mt Stuart in all its splendor. I’ve taken many shots of the mountain before and didn’t feel like stopping.  I continued on, up the hill; however, I didn’t want to over extend myself so I turned around and started back.  Once I got back to the main road and knew I had only four miles to go, I began picking up the pace; I wasn’t overheated and there was a slight tailwind.  There is no way to fully describe the feeling of knowing that you are truly exerting yourself; but, there’s no pain.  When I finished and was relaxing with my chocolate milk and cookies I was overwhelmed with a feeling of satisfaction and well-being.  Bless those endorphins!

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Family visit

I've been doing very little riding the last couple of days and probably won't be riding for the next couple either.  My baby sister who I haven't seen for a couple of years has come out from South Dakota for a visit.  Our family has been widely separated for ages; my sister has been in South Dakota for the last 35 years or so, I've been in Washington for 28 years and my brother had lived in California for 35 years before he died 10 years ago.  We try to see each other when we can but long distances and life keep interfering.  We've been playing 'do you remember...' and I think I'm ahead but only because I'm older and have more memories. 

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

I’ve ‘needed’ a means of transporting my trike since I got it last year. It will actually fit inside my vehicle however, that doesn’t leave much room for other things such as suitcases. Since we want to make a couple of trips this year and I want to be able to take my trike, I had to take the plunge and order a carrier for the rear of our vehicle. It arrived inside a box (imagine that).

After unpacking, I was faced with this: (sidewalk art courtesy of one of my granddaughters).

It included assembly instructions which I used to ignore but as I’ve grown older (and wiser?) I’ve found that it doesn’t hurt to at least glance at them. In a relatively short period of time the parts had magically transformed into something useable.

It seems to be fairly stable and now we’ll have to go on a trip somewhere just to make sure it works.

As a reward for my efforts I indulged in some pie ala mode.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Road Hazards

Today was a great day for a ride, so I took two. The temperature was 60° by 10 AM but the maximum it got was about 67° by 3 PM; now that the temperature is going up I’ll have to start hoping for the wind to go down!
The first ride was rather mundane—took a long-cut to Safeway to pick up some groceries; total of 6 ½ miles. On the second trip I thought I’d take some pictures of potential hazards I see every day. Most could be hazardous regardless of the vehicle you’re driving; however, some are definitely more perilous if you’re on a cycle.
The first is large trucks; whether they’re coming from the front

or rear,

they are intimidating. I am passed by numerous rigs like this on nearly every ride and I must say that the drivers are very courteous and have never given me a fright.
One of the roads on which I ride has a thick rope laid across it as a speed bump. Although the speed limit is 20 mph, I ease across this barrier as it can be quite jarring.

Of course the granddaddy of hazards must be a pothole;

there’s nothing quite like a pothole to test your reactions and swerving abilities, especially when they are camouflaged by shadows on the road!

Railroad tracks seem insignificant in an automobile; however, if they are slightly wet or cross the road at an angle, they can be extremely dangerous.

Oftentimes, you will see a cyclist riding to the right of the white line on the side of the road. I will ride there when it’s been cleaned but with the financial difficulties of many road departments today, quite often the shoulder of the road looks like this:

not good for riding!
And finally, there is organic material; wet leaves or grass on the roadway is a definite hazard. A more pungent problem appears on rural roads and multi-use paths such as the coal Miners’ Trail.

Friday, June 17, 2011

'They call the wind Mariah'

This year seems to be particularly bad for wind; it's consistently 10 - 12 mph with higher gusts and changing directions. Since I've changed to a trike, the side winds which threaten to blow me into the ditch (or into traffic) aren't as bothersome. As for the headwinds, I just gear down and grind away. I always try to start out riding into the wind on my daily jaunts so I have the wind at my back on the way home. Since my normal speed on flat ground is about 10 - 12 mph, I end up in a sort of 'bubble' of quiet on my return ride; no wind noise. That usually works well. However, last year I rode to Salmon la Sac into the wind and had lunch before starting back. During my break the wind shifted and I ended up with a headwind both directions. Yes, the wind definitely had a name that day, and it wasn't Mariah!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Runner's High

A friend from my Marine Corps days, who ran marathons, said the most difficult thing about training was getting dressed; once the shoes were laced on, the run was just a step away. Strenuous exercise can become addictive. There are some days I don't feel like going for a ride, but generally, I can hardly wait for the right conditions to come about. The route I take isn't that important, only the exertion. At some point, usually about half an hour after starting, the 'runner's high' starts kicking in; scientists have studied and debated what causes the euphoric feeling but I don't care. Suddenly, the sky seems bluer, the clouds more cotton candy like. Every green thing seems greener, the road has become freshly paved and I just want to keep pedaling; however, too soon, I have to return home where I relax with a glass of chocolate milk and a few Fig Newtons, daydreaming of an endless tour.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

A dearth of Flags

It was a comfortable day for riding; temperatures in the high 50s and a brisk 10 to 12 mph wind. I had no particular destination in mind when I left and my only intentions were to try to shake off my lethargy and to clear my lungs by making them work. However, as I progressed westward on 2nd Street, I began to notice that there were no American flags fluttering in the breeze. The only flag flying was at the fire station; none were in evidence at any residences.

Today is Flag Day--the day in 1777 that the Continental Congress adopted the design of our flag. Although it's not a Federal or State Holiday I would think some folks would have a bit of pride and remember the day. I guess if a special day is not important enough to become an annual three day weekend, there's no reason to observe it or stop to think about why it should be important.

Monday, June 13, 2011

After nearly a year long hiatus I have decided to start contributing to this blog again. I started it initially to chronicle my preparation for, and accomplishment of, a Bike Around The State ride which I did not complete. I'm not certain if I will attempt that again or chalk it up to experience and move on. I did discover that I was prepared for the daily physical aspects of such a journey, but I did not adequately prepare for the vagaries of weather: lesson learned.

I don't have a month long epic planned for this year. With graduations, visits from relatives, family reunions and the need to paint our living room, I will be lucky to be able to get a one week trip done this year. I have several thoughts about what I'd like to do but it's a bit premature to decide which one (or two) I will attempt. However, I do intend to ride as much as I can--preferably every day. As my planning begins to firm up I will post details; in the meantime, I'll be rambling about various topics.