Thursday, December 31, 2020

Overjoyed: Cleared for takeoff in 2021

 Three days ago, my vision began to clear far more rapidly than it had in the previous six weeks.
Yesterday, my eye doctor declared it good, and canceled the upcoming surgery we'd scheduled just in case. What this means is that I can see well enough to ride my bike around the neighborhood, and that my eye has nowhere to go but up.
So today, I ran a few local errands. It was glorious. In bright sunlight things are still sketchy (note to self: get some cheap sunglasses!), but in cloudy daylight it's pretty good.
I rode all over the neighborhood, starting with a couple of Buy-Nothing Group errands and a trip to the Post Office, and ending with a grocery trip before heading home in the late afternoon sunshine.
It was glorious.

Tomorrow, since it's just another day for me, I'll probably enjoy another little ride, and spend some time jumpstarting things in the Brain Trust. I've got some projects I need to finish up move out to Catholic Charities and elsewhere.

Evidence photo:

I also installed a very small front basket on the singlespeed, a PDW Takeout Basket.
I'll do a writeup on this later, but once I sorted out the installation, it mounted nicely and is just the right size for the bike. Plus, since both my other bikes have a basket or rack up front, I was finding that the lack of a basket on this bike made the handling more squirrely; adding one calmed things down right away.

Wishing you all a 2021 filled with bike rides galore, and hopefully with friends as soon as it's safe.
Happy riding!

Tuesday, December 22, 2020

very s-l-o-w going: eye update and more

A couple days ago, the rain stopped and the sun came out. So I took a chance and took a short ride to the store, where I needed to pick up a prescription and fill in a few things.

It was actually nice out, unusually warm during a sunny break between rain storms. But with only one functioning eye, it was very slow going, as I struggled with gauging distance and bright sunshine (my eyes are very light-sensitive now, post-surgery). Still, it was nice to be on my bike, turning the cranks and feeling the breeze pass along my cheeks. And it was also lovely to be able to get somewhere without having to depend on Sweetie to drive me there, or taking the bus where levels of mask compliance have varied more than I like. (Homeless folks are riding Trimet basically all day just to stay dry and warm, and they may put on a mask to get on the bus, but they will take it off or pull it down from their nose once they've taken a seat. The driver can't really enfoce anything while operating a bus, so that's basically that.)

So I enjoyed my short ride of roughly two miles RT. By the time I got hme, the sky had darkened, the air got colder, and the rain started up after I'd gotten inside.

I've really enjoyed my singlespeed city bike. Taking care ti check and tighten the cranks and chainring bolts periodically and refill the tires as needed is about all the maintenance it's needed.

I enjoy the simplicity and the lightness of this bike, even as I sacrifice carrying capacity. I recently acquired a large front rack, and also a PDW Takeout basket and bag; I'm deciding which I want to mount on the front and I'm leaning towards the latter, simply because of its smaller size.

I hope to get out again this week during another dry spell. Even in the cold weather, a short bike ride around the neighborhood would do me some good.

Switching gears: I've noticed for some time now the increasing popularity of enamelware coffee mugs, a throwback to the cowboy days when you made your coffee in an enamelware pot over an open fire. The mugs are durable and hold up pretty well, they keep a cup of coffee hot long enough to drink it, and they've enjoyed a resurgence in the "Coffee Outside" fad. Companies all over are now selling brand new enamelware mugs emblazoned with their logos, with prices ranging between $20 and 40.

I recently acquired a set of old mugs for very little money, and decided to clean them up well and paint over the chips (outside only, folks). Thenl I decided to turn a couple of them into my own "Coffee Outside" mugs, using some leftover decals from my friend Tarik. His #tarkisalehbikeclub items have become ubiquitous among the older bike hipster crowd in Portland and elsewhere, and I thought one of the decals would work nicely on a mug.

Here's the first one I made up. I've offered to give it to Tarik if he wants it.

Below, is the second cup I did, a much older mug that I intend to keep for myself.

Why buy a bunch of new, expensive stuff when you can make it at home?

I'm pleased with how these worked out.
And I get a lot of satisfaction in making culture instead of consuming it so much.

What do you have lying around that you can convert and re-culturize for yourself? Have fun with it, and happy riding.

Sunday, December 13, 2020

Lights in the tunnel

 So I went to my eye doc for a checkup. After several rounds of eye drops and peeks through various machines, he gave me a verdict For Now:

-- He's seeing very slow but steady improvement in the graft adhesion, and would like to give it more time to improve before scheduling a re-do surgery. This means that I will keep doing what I'm doing -- eye drops every two hours while I'm awake and covering with an eye shield to ease light strain -- until my next checkup on December 30. At that time, he'll decide whether to proceed with the surgery in early January, or push the date out another couple of weeks.

-- If I feel brave, I can try riding a bike around my neighborhood. Obviously, distabnce and field of vision still remain issues, but if I stick to residential streets and short distances I should be okay.

-- I can resume wrenching on bikes at home, though seeing things up close will require that I use reading glasses.

I should be thrilled.

I'm not.

In fact, I feel super low-energy and kind of down. I know some of it is physical/seasonal -- I live with Seasonal Affective Disorder, IBS, and Crohn's and those things can sometimes be really pesky -- and some of it is just that it is cold and very wet outside and I haven't felt like being out in the muck.

Am I getting "soft"? Am I just lazy?
Or is it hard to get motivated when I have nowhere else to go during a pandemic?
Likely a bit of all of the above.

So tomorrow, I am making a promise to myself to bundle up, go out to the shed and kick on the tiny space heater, and spend some time working on bike projects that have sat too long.
I'm not yet sure how comfortable I feel trying to ride again, but we'll see.

Tonight, I'll bask in the Chanukah lights and my Sweetie's embrace.

If you're celebrating the return of the light this month in any form, enjoy the lights and the warmth and hope they bring. And let's all hang in there so we can see what the future holds for us as the days lengthen again.