Wednesday, July 29, 2009

I'm Bikin' in the Rain ... Just Ridin' in the Rain ...

... what a not-so-glorious feeling, I'm soaking again ...

I've been working this week -- working, as in going in to school, versus the work that I've been doing at home for much of the month. With the work comes the desire to ride to work instead of confining myself in a car or subway in the July heat. Or the July rain. Which ever.

So, my utter commitment to riding to work, and then to pick up Little Squid from camp, has led to some soggy rides this week.

On Muesday the weather report was a little iffy but it was dry when I set out for work. By the time I left school for camp the sky was looking a little yellow and, after riding half a block, I turned around, brought my bike back into school, and ran up the stairs to my boss's office (from whence I am working this week so she can get some time off) to close the windows.

Good move.

I then pedaled sedately to camp and, arriving a few minutes early, sat in a nearby park with my knitting until pick up time. Just as I was walking the bike to the camp building I felt the first drops. Hmm, I thought. Maybe just air conditioner shpitz? (We get a lot of that from window units and I was in denial.) I continued on and, leaving my bike half under the overhang, unlocked Little Squid's bike, reattached his wheel, and did my usual parking of it on the side of the building. Not under the overhang. I then took out my knitting and proceeded to wait. (His group always gets out late and I always get there early.)

Then it started to rain. A light, but steady and undeniable, rain.

I moved both of our bikes under the overhang and put away, in my waterproof panier, my knitting. And then my cell phone (it travels in my jersey pocket). And my watch. (I was wearing my good "work" watch versus my summer "can take a beating and some rain" watch.) The other mothers and I sheltered as the rain came down in fairly heavy drops for several minutes.

By the time Little Squid came out, the rain had mostly abated and we decided to pedal home.

It continued raining lightly for the first couple of miles (the ride is just under 6 miles) and then ... with an ominous roll of distant thunder ... the skies opened up. We pedaled pell mell for the nearest shelter, about a quarter mile ahead. The rain was sheeting sideways, right at us and was so fast, hard and heavy that I could not easily catch my breath, I just kept sucking in water instead of air!

Achieving the cover of the West Side Highway (also called the Joe DiMaggio Highway) which runs above a section of the greenway for about 1.5 miles, we rode to the last sheltered pull off before the "point of no return," the end of the highway which spelled the end of any shelter other than the rare awning, until home. Sharing the sheltered space with another parent-kid combo, we waited out the worst of the rain until clearing skies and lighter drops seemed to indicate that the storm was moving toward New Jersey.

We made our way home, arriving with the very last of the rain drops.

When we got home we were somewhat squishy but not "wring out your socks" soaked. Not too bad and nothing to really regret tho I promised to steer clear of the greenway in the future if electrical storms were predicted.

One would think that this was a lesson learned.


Obviously you do not know me that well.

Yesterday was lovely. Hot, but lovely. And totally uneventful. The only moisture on my clothing was caused but my bodies natural reaction to the day's heat.

Today? The signs were all there. The totally grey skies. The ominous weather report. The fact that Squidette was not riding again this week by choice ... I, however, listened to the voice that said "Squidette is performing in Morningside Heights and you work in East Harlem. The easist way to get from one to the other is by bike."

And so I rode. The ride to work was fairly uneventful except for the usual idiots. Work was not uneventful but I dealt as I must and, leaving promptly, half an hour later than I was supposed to, I rode off to Squidette's camp.

The sky was grey-green but the fates were with me. I arrived just in time for Squidette's performance and was only a little damp due to the exertion and heat. Mostly the heat. I just don't push myself that hard when riding alone.

Squidette performed with the String Ensemble (with bassoon) and then again, solo. I kvelled. And then I left, leaving Mike in the audience, with the thought that I should get moving to "beat the rain."

It was already raining when I got outside. By the time I'd unlocked my bike I was pretty wet and thinking that the subway might be a good idea. But I had no metrocard. But I did have a credit card which is almost as good.

By the time I'd pedaled to the nearest subway station I was already soaked and figured that I could not really get anymore wet. The rain was warm and the thought of schleping my bike underground to the overheated subway platform and then on to the overchilled subway was not a pleasent one. So I rode on. All the way home.

The rain was fairly heavy but was not as driving as Monday's storm. Occassionally I'd see a dim flash of lightening and hear a low rumbling of thunder but on I cycled, counting off the blocks by 10's. The ride was 100 blocks, a little over five miles with the extra east-west blocks.

I stayed on the streets, sticking to a lightly trafficked avenue and rode fairly steadily until 64th street, when, due to a need to breath some air with my water, I took cover in a bus shelter for a few minutes. The rain was still not as bad as that brief episode on Monday but I needed a short breather.

The next part of the ride continued as the first, with water pouring into my bike shoes. I think my brakes were sending the spray directly down the inside of my ankles.

Then the bike started to wobble a bit. I pulled out of the street and looked down and discovered ... a flat tire. Then I looked up and realized that I had only 5 blocks to go. And, it had, mostly, stopped raining.

My clothes were dripping wet when I got home. My socks will take days to dry. I need to replace my inner tube.

And I'd probably do it again. But not tomorrow.

Friday, July 24, 2009


Yes, there has been knitting and spinning going on around here.

Lots of tiny socks for geocaching swag.

A "don't have to look" sock for Mike. This is where it was in late June after seeing the new Star Trek movie and at the start of Squidette's graduation. It has since seen Harry Potter, a two hour performance at Squidette's camp and been to the ophthalmologist. (Two by two ribbing can be done with my eyes closed. Or dilated.) It now has a heel and about 4 inches of cuff.

There is also a sock-in-progress for Squidette. It gets worked on while I'm waiting to pick the kids up from camp.

Tomorrow we are going to my sister-in-laws' for the day so I have 3 hours of car time and lots of visiting time. My prediction is that I will finish the first of Squidette's socks (it is almost to the toe) and maybe the first of Mike's pair.

And then there is Swallowtail ...

Knit in laceweight, homespun, two-ply, bamboo-silk (I'm not sure if it is a bamboo silk mix or if it is bamboo "silk." The roving (top really) was a gift and the giver was not, at the time, a spinner and didn't know anything other than what was written on the label.) Since it was evenly dyed, I suspect it it all bamboo. It was certainly easier to spin than silk.

I finished the spinning last summer and the yarn aged for 6 months or so before I finally realized that it needed to be Swallowtail, a pattern that has aged on my shelf for a few years.

I do not think I will make another Swallowtail. It is lovely and I am quite happy with it but the nupps seriously annoyed me. That said, I was using my blunt tipped addi turbos and not the newer addi lace needles. The next time I knit a pattern with nupps in it I will make sure to use pointy needles. I also suffered from some brain melting during the final chart and had to rip out half a dozen rows.

More to come as we start our summer travels. Pittsburgh any one?

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Squid on Wheels: Riding Around Manhattan

It has been two years since we last attempted to circumnavigate our home island and, in reality, on this trip, we actually circumcised the island ... we cut off the tip after encountering heavy tourist traffic at the southern end.

We started by meeting a friend and his dad and rode up to Fairway to buy the fixings for a picnic breakfast for later in the morning. We then made a brief stop at the base of the George Washington Bridge. I am always amazed at the size difference between the Little Red Lighthouse and the Great Grey Bridge! After ascending the hill that starts at the light house, we rode a bit more before stopping to admire the view from Inspiration Point.
At Inwood Park, while the adults schmoozed, the kids ran out and grabbed a geocache that we'd failed to find on a previous trip.

Little Squid discovered a quicker way back to the path.
Squidette got caught trying to sneak up on the adults.

The view from our breakfast spot.
Starting downtown, we paused to admire the only surviving farmhouse in Manhattan. Very strange to think about farms in Manhattan. Very strange!
As I chatted with our friends, we all commented on the fact that we cannot name a single neighborhood in Manhattan that is not gentrifying. Even those areas with a heavy load of low income housing projects are being inundated with upscale residences and the accompanying businesses. Swindlers Cove is an example of that change.Amazing change, isn't it.

We continued our journey but after Swindler's Cove I stopped taking pictures and we, for the most part, stopped playing tourist and just concentrated on riding. We worked our way down the east side of Manhattan, pausing to use the facilities at Carl Shurz park, and rode down and across the tip of the island. The last few miles were arduous, mainly because it was now mid-day and all of Manhattan seemed to be out and about on the waterfront. The crowds were such that we had to ride very carefully and spent the rest of the trip concentrating on not hitting runners, pedestrians, roller bladers and other cylists.

Total mileage: 34 miles bringing us up to 56 for the weekend.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Squid on Wheels: Roosevelt Island

We took off today with the intention for riding around 30 miles in about 4 hours. Our route was to be: Eighth Avenue to Central Park, Central Park Drive to 90th Street, 90th Street to Carl Shurz Park and the East River Promenade, East River Promenade to the bridge to Ward / Randall's Island, Triboro Bridge to Queens, various streets to the Roosevelt Island Bridge, RIB to Roosevelt Island, Circumnavigate Roosevelt Island, back over the bridge to Queens, various water frontish streets to the Kosiuzko Bridge to Brooklyn, various streets to the Fairway Market in Red Hook for lunch, and then the usual routes home.

This was the plan.

You know what they say about plans ...
Lighthouse on Roosevelt Island
Ruins on Roosevelt Island

We got as far as circumnavigating Roosevelt Island.

As we climbed up to the pedestrian part of the bridge to go back to Queens, Mike hit an expansion joint badly and his front wheel sank into the joint. He staggered and caught his balance (he was practically walking the bike at the time) and pulled his wheel out of the gap. In his almost-fall, his weight had caused the wheel to bend just enough to make it unrideable. After some discussion we decided that he would take the subway back into Manhattan and the kids and I would cut our ride short and ride back over the Queenboro Bridge.
Sculpture at the south end of Central ParkSite of Geocache

And so it went. We rode back ino our own boro, stopped briefly in Central Park to munch on some baked goods purchased on Roosevelt Island, grabbed a geocache on 57th Street and then pedaled down Broadway to where the path disappears in Times Square.

The path is lovely up until that point - there, it dumps one into either having to walk through the pedestrian plazas for a few blocks or, to to battle the traffic on 7th Avenue. Unfortunately, the path ends at a west-bound street, which forces the rider to either go out to 9th Avenue or, to walk or ride east the wrong way for half a block to get to 7th Avenue. Yo! City Planners! How about adding an east-bound path on that block to make things a bit safer for those of us who choose to not polute!

Total ride: 22 miles.

We are rather short of last years' total and will probably not come close. The kids have been opting to spend the weekends with their friends instead of riding with their parents. Had to happen sooner or later.

This evening I took Little Squid and three of his friends to see the new Harry Potter movie and then out for pizza. Squidette oined me and we sat a few rows back from the boys so they could see it without "adult supervision." Squidette then abandoned me and went home for leftover pizza instead of getting the good, fresh stuff with the boys. *grin*

Tomorrow we have more big riding plans ... lets see what the fates have in store for us. (Mike will be riding his "road" bike which usually functions as our stationary trainer.)

Thursday, July 09, 2009


They make you laugh, they make you cry, they make you crazy!

At 8:20, after dropping off Little Squid, I said good-bye to Squidette as she pedaled off to camp, 10 blocks further north, and I pedaled home in order to change and make a 9:30 meeting. She promised to call once she had locked up her bike.

I head home, coasting down Riverside Drive, grinding out the miles along the Hudson River and, finally, as I neared the Intrepid, started to worry. It had been too long. Had I missed the call? Pulled over, checked my cell phone. Nope, no missed call. Try Squidette's phone ... right to voice mail.

Pedaling on, I get to my exit, go through the cell phone ritual again and start to really worry. Was she hit by a truck? (Very few trucks on our route.) Did she wipe out on the steep descent to camp? And what about the violin on her back ...

Arriving in the apartment, I decide that calling camp is way more important than arriving at my meeting on time and, as I navigate the various options on the camp phone system ... my phone rings.

She forgot.


I've forgiven her ... it is only the second time in over a year that she's forgotten to call. But it is amazing just how panicky I got for those few minutes.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Random Musings

It's amazing how dry my skin gets given that it spends hours and hours each day slathered in greasy sunscreen.

Squidette like humming Schubert's 8th Unfinished Symphony. She says the tune is "fun." How many teens can say that!

I can now say that I have changed the pedals on a bicycle. And the seat (though I'd done that before). And, I have a boo boo on my chest from changing said pedals. Don't ask.

I have survived 3 dinners without Mike and not had to resort to ordering in.

That said, we ate leftovers for two of the nights and I made macaroni and tuna for the third. Tomorrow is a bread, cheese and sausage picnic, weather cooperating. See, I CAN feed my children. Just not well.

It's sugar snap pea season and I'm in heaven! I eat them like candy.

The first skeins of Mike's new sweater are in their final soak in the sink and the next ones are mid-ply on my Journey Wheel. I had to stop to change the water for the skeins in the sink and decided to blog instead of going back to plying.

Squidette now has contact lenses.

The price variation for her lenses (on-line) was huge! There was almost a $200 difference between the highest and lowest priced suppliers for a 6 month supply. Phew!

Little Squid is playing John Adams in the camp musical.

Random enough for you?

Sunday, July 05, 2009

A Squidly July 4th

For this year's 4th we put our own spin on patriotism. We rode our bikes and had a picnic breakfast at the Harlem Fairway ...
Mike and Little Squid continued learning how to play a symbol of American folk music ...

We all got excited at the prospect of a fire works barge visible from our apartment ...
Mama played her Little Sis in Wii tennis ... (finally, someone I can beat!)
We watched a lovely sunset as the barge floated in and out of view ...

And finally, we enjoyed a spectacular fireworks display on the Hudson River.

(There was also some shopping (Mama Squid, Little Sis, Squidette and Grandma Squid), some show-going (Grandpa Squid and Little Squid) and some computer repair (Papa Squid). All in all, a good day!