Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Biking to the Garden of Ignorance

Six new beds and a deck to drink whisky upon, that is what I built. 

I realize I have always been a little more drawn to creating spectacle than utilitarianism. When utilitarianism and spectacle converge, I get really excited. I am no expert in my recreational pursuits, but I have fun.

Look at my biking experience. Yes, I like to ride my bike to work. It is a fun thing to do. It is a good thing to do for me, my community and the world at large. I like lights, I like music, I like spectacle and I like it all on my bike. I don't know what kind of gear ratios my bike has. I don't even know if "gear ratios" is really a thing for bikes. I barely maintain my bike. When something breaks, that's when I really get serious about doing "maintenance." The Xtracycle has always been good conversation starter. I have added and then subtracted so much weirdness from it over the years, but I put on a new cable when the cable breaks. I change the brake pads when the brakes break. When I am down to about four usable gears, I adjust the shifting. But music, lights, stickers, spoke cards, a mobile BBQ trailer? Hell yeah! Serious bikers would note that I am not a serious biker.

My latest sound system - a repurposed Bluetooth shower speaker. 

My garden is the same way. I water my plants with a hose when the dirt gets dry. I pull up stuff and eat it right there. I don't know the types of tomatoes I am growing. I bought the seeds because they had funny names. One year I grew Charlie Chaplins, the next year it was Bloody Butchers. If it has a funny name, I will buy the seeds. This year, I've already forgotten what they were. Sophie's Choices? Golden Goiters? Turbo Blechs? I find that I plant plants together that are good "companion plants." How do I know this? Because someone told me I had done this.

I built this "patio" to sit and watch the garden (and drink whisky) in about three hours. I could've done it in two, if I didn't use a level. That's right. I used a level. 

This garden patio now supersedes this patio:

You might walk by my garden, and think me a "serious" gardener. Maybe just by the sheer volume of my efforts. The new beds  almost doubled the garden. Here's a gardening tip - I like to weed my plants until my plants are bigger than the weeds, then after that, if the weeds win, my vegetables deserved the loss. I know nothing of soil Ph. When something starts killing my plants, I kill that something (slugs). I do this only for vengeance.  

When beautiful, unfamiliar poppies started poking up in my vegetable beds, I let them grow with the crops because they looked cool. Every year, there seems to be fewer of these dandy interlopers. It makes me a little sad to see their numbers dwindle. 

I grew radishes until they almost went to seed and now I am going to pickle some, so I can delay the guilt of discarding them - until I throw the jar of their undisturbed contents away, probably around Halloween.

I have a lot of people stop by and tell me they really like my garden. I know that often they are referring to the flowers Sarah has grown. Either way, I take credit and it makes me feel good. I, in turn, get to ask about their garden, or their bike, or their baby in a stroller. 

My garden is a spectacle just like my bike. It's not whimsical, maybe a little ramshackle. Yet the garden pumps out the produce, which like biking seems to do me some good.  

There are things I like to have expertise in. Those are the things that pay the bills. Any expertise I have in biking or gardening is overshadowed by the fun I have, the people I meet and the show it creates.

Monday, June 13, 2016

Saying Yes

I have had some weird stomach pain for the last few days. It was so bad one morning, I had Sarah pick me up from work and I left my bike at the station. Had a lot of things planned for the weekend, so I was bummed when I got sick.

And so with aching stomach, on Friday, we headed over to Heyburn State Park in Idaho for another Trail Maniacs half-marathon trail run. We made camp at Lake Benewah. As soon as we put the awning and the tent up, it started to dump rain. It rained really hard for an hour or two while we huddled in the tent. After the weather subsided, Sarah made a great dinner. We sat by a very warm fire and had a little wine. Went to bed early and slept great.  

In the morning, I did one last stomach/digestive-tract check. It was still hurting but I thought I could still do the run. Wow. I am so glad I did. It was beautiful. Awesome views, magical trails through meadows with grasses that tickled your elbows. Dark forests, streams, arduous climbs and rickety descents. 

We met a young couple and their four kids at the campground, and Mandy, the matriarch, was running the route and taking pictures - what a great idea! I never take pictures on these runs and always wished I had. Mandy's husband Joe won the race and their kids did really well in some of the shorter runs.

So many times, I was almost overwhelmed by the beauty of the trail and realized how much of that beauty was in the actual act of running and being ingrained in the landscape. Just an amazing time. I was so glad that I decided to run. I'm glad I said "yes" to something that I could have easily avoided and probably should have avoided. Bagging out of a half-marathon full of mountain climbs when you are sick seems like a pretty logical thing to do. So glad I ran instead.

After the race, there was the usual good food and fellowship. I had one beer and decided that was all my stomach could sign up for. Besides, it was about an hour's drive back home.

After unloading all our camping gear, we went down to the Pride Festival and really enjoyed the entertainment and being with so many people who were enjoying themselves and each other. It was great to be there. In a way, I felt honored to be there. Thanks to all those who could have stayed safe and not participated, and I'm not just talking about the LGBT community but all families, couples and individuals who came together to celebrate - not tolerate - but celebrate diversity and beauty in our town! Thank you for saying "yes."

And then Sunday's news of the shooting tragedy in Florida. I would imagine some of the folks celebrating that night were "out" for the first time or were friends supporting friends, or just people wanting to have a good time with people having a good time. And then the senseless violence. Another very sad act by another angry person - a person angered that some people said "yes" to not hiding, or "yes" to not-hating/tolerating/celebrating/loving.   


I am beginning to realize that saying "yes," to the beauty of something, the challenge of something, the rightness of something, saying "yes" to who you are, and loving your neighbors when they show you who they are, is a risky proposition, but it may be the only thing that will move us all forward into a much greater, much more beautiful, place.