Training Wheels

It’s said you never forget how to ride a bicycle. I recently tested that hypothesis.

This is my bike. It’s a beach cruiser that I bought 9 years ago because my friend, and force of nature, Marcia, pushed me. At that point in time Marcia was an avid bike rider, took care of large dogs when their owners went on trips and walked them miles every day. I mostly sat at my desk and wrote. Anyway, the bike was not expensive. It was at a small bike shop and Marcia thought it might have fallen off a truck, but I gave them my credit card and walked it back to the house. Note the helmet I bought for my planned road trips.

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A few days later, after Marcia had gone back to the Western Shore, I decided to ride my bike to the Saturday Farmers’ Market in St. Michaels. A quarter of a mile down the flat road in my development, my thighs were burning, but I was determined. And I did seem to remember how to ride. Gone were the flying-down-hills with my hair streaming behind me days, but I was staying upright. This bike didn’t have anorexic tires and no brakes and gears on the handlebars. I just needed to get my thighs in shape.

I made it to the market, bought a couple of things that I put in my bike basket and rode home. I may have gone out a couple times more, but somehow the bike migrated to the storage shed in the back and didn’t come out for nine years.

Occasionally Marcia would ask me about the bike. I think she felt bad for pushing me into the purchase. (Not your fault, Marcia. I take full responsibility.)

This fall we downsized to one car. We had one car for 11 years at one point and it worked. We worked from home then and didn’t need two cars. When we moved to St. Michaels we had just the one car but were soon both going in different directions for our various volunteer  activities and we got another car.

Now, with one car, seemed the perfect time to get the bike out of the shed. I took it to a local bike person to get it checked out. I wanted to make sure the tires hadn’t dry-rotted. I had a handlebar mirror installed. We brought it home in the trunk of the car.

That’s when I tried to get on it. Unlike the girl’s bike I had as a kid, this bike has a cross piece and I had to throw my leg over it. Not forgetting how to ride a bike assumed you could still lift your leg like a Rockette. But I was determined, so a little help from my right hand under my right thigh and I was astride. I hoped no neighbors were watching. Feet on the pedals and I was away. Well, not quite. Our driveway is gravel. Hard to ride on, so I put my feet down and pushed my way onto the blacktop.

My plan was to go around the circle a couple of times a day until I got my bike legs. That worked okay. I didn’t fall over, but thoughts of broken hips and arms intruded. I never remember thinking I’d break something when I was flying on my bike at age eight. Now it seemed a constant refrain. I kept hearing my yoga instructor saying, think it and it shall be. I don’t think a broken hip mantra was what she had in mind. Or the other intrusive image of a quick stop crotch and cross bar collision.

Cold and windy weather finally arrived. Surely I couldn’t be expected to go bike riding in that sort of weather. A gust might push me over. My prayers for snow were answered so the bike has taken up residence in our garage along with the plants I brought in for the winter. In the meantime I am practicing high kicks and knee squats in preparation for spring riding. I might even stop in at the bike shop and see if there are training wheels for adult bikes.

#gettingoldsucks; #elderriding; #nevergiveup

 

Work Hard, Play Harder

Laura and I have started a new project. We are taking the script of #Santa and turning it into a novel — probably Chick Lit if you need a genre classification. And we decided the story arc won’t be focused on Christmas. It’s the wacky characters that will keep the story going.

Anyway, we spent three days last week figuring out what we wanted to do. We took the script, which is essentially dialogue, thought about where scenes needed to be added, and how we wanted to expand characters. A novel gives us so much room to explore inside characters’ brains.

The challenge is to put in the details that novelization requires. In a movie script you give some broad strokes and the director and his staff make the decisions about what a room looks like or the kinds of clothes a character wears. Now we have to make those decisions and write the descriptions. I actually like this process since when I’m writing I’m watching a movie playing in my head. I just have to write down what I see. And both Laura and I have learned that what’s really important is to get something written. You can tweak, rearrange, or delete later, but getting the ideas down on “paper”, even if you think what you’re writing sucks, is what you have to do.

We made enough progress that we will be able to meet for lunch this week and assign scenes we will each write. Our process is that we then pass them back to one another and overwrite. Because our writing styles are quiet similar, this makes for a fairly seamless product. I don’t think readers can tell who wrote what. When the first draft is completed we’ll start moving things around. Sometimes you just have to read the whole thing to see where the problems are.

At noon on the third day we finished what we had set out to do and decided to play. We went to lunch and then explored consignment shops and antique stores. Laura was ready to buy a pair of love seats for her house and asked the price. “They’re sold,” she was told. She thought they were kidding until two big guys walked in and walked the love seats out of the shop. If we’d been there an hour earlier, they might have been hers.

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We had fun trying on shoes, hats and clothes. It’s the kind of thing our husbands don’t like to do, but was a perfect guilty pleasure for a couple of gals on a ramble after doing some creative work. Don’t you just love this hat.  I’d love to know its backstory. Who the heck wore this and where? Hmmm…that could be the beginning of another novel.

 

 

A Little of This, a Little of That

St. Michaels’ harbor was calm this morning when I took my two mile morning walk. The wind was gone and it wasn’t as cold as the last couple of days. I try to walk everyday, but when it’s really cold, I can’t force myself out the door. I like seeing what’s going on in the neighborhood. Has a house gone up for sale or been sold? Hey, that long-time vacant lot has a new foundation going in. This morning Talbot County trucks were out repairing some potholes. I met a neighbor out walking her hound dog, Rebel, and we stopped and chatted.. Dogs are a great way to meet people when I’m walking.

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At the Woman’s Club meeting Wednesday we were treated to an actor who portrayed Franklin Delano Roosevelt. He was part of the Hugh Gregory Gallagher Theatre whose mission is “to raise public awareness of disability issues and discrimination in our society through dramatizations of real-life and fictionalized experiences. Our powerful, entertaining and insightful plays on persons with physical, developmental and mental disabilities, and others discriminated against based on race, ethnic origin or sexual orientation, help reduce prejudice and stigma.”

Roosevelt’s disability due to polio was hidden from the public. The actor asked if we thought a person with Roosevelt’s disability could be elected president today?

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Could a blind person be elected? What about someone like Stephen Hawking? It made us all think. Being president is an extremely taxing job mentally, emotionally and physically. It requires stamina. Stephen Hawking is brilliant. Do I think he has the stamina to be President. No. Would we elect a president who couldn’t speak? I don’t think so.

New Year’s Eve was fun. I made a meatloaf. Laura came with our friend Betty Ann. Laura’s husband was flying and she brought left-over mashed potatoes from Christmas dinner. We invited another girl friend who brought fabulous Brussels sprouts. My hubby was quite happy to be the token male. I did notice that at one point when all the women were in the kitchen after dinner cleaning up, he retreated to his office. Friends went home early and we were in bed by 10:00. A perfect New Year’s Eve for us!

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These flowers were a hostess gift from Betty Ann (she also brought some great wine). The bulbs were getting ready to bloom on New Year’s Eve, but now the yellow tulip is in full bloom and the hyacinth is perfuming my kitchen. There’s a purple tulip yet to come. When they finish blooming I’ll put them in the ground.

I’m starting out the new year with friends, good food, a little exercise tucked in here and there, and the fragrance of spring which isn’t so far away.