7.23.2015

dump bike v.4.5

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Actually, I don't know if this is version four, or maybe five, six?  But anyway, it's a new bike made from parts of old bikes.  A Frankenstein's monster of a bicycle.  Not too bad, hey?

One of the fun things about The Man is that he refuses to buy stuff.  Food is okay, and paying for education and experiences is good, but stuff?  Not so much.  But that doesn't mean we don't have a lot of stuff.  Ho no.  We got things.  I'm not sure if we have a lot of things, in the grand scheme of modern consumer culture, or even compared to my neighbor, since we live in a smallish home (644 square feet) and it always seems cluttered to me no matter how many times I donate to the thrift stores, but we make stuff (clothes, shelves, children), people give us things (a trampoline, play set), The Man forages stuff here and there (dumps, dumpsters, back alleys, etc.) and sometimes we even buy things (high end educational materials, because I'm a fool).  I once found a small coffee mug in a bush alongside a sidewalk that I have developed an attachment to. There is always stuff, you hardly need to put any effort into getting it.

Still, buying stuff sucks.  It's especially difficult for The Man.  I think his general rule is that if he can find it at the dump, or has even ever seen it at the dump one time ever, then we shouldn't buy it.  You can see how this could encompass a fairly extensive list of items.  What doesn't hit the dump eventually?

One item we both agree to not buy, though, is a new bicycle.  I've seen times when last year's bikes have littered the dump in snarled bunches in numbers to even rival the gulls.  I can see this is a combination of factors, such as kids growing rapidly and no one particularly wanting to ride a hand me down bike. My first person observations of the neighbor kids suggest that a new bike every spring is a status symbol that lasts about two weeks until the bike is unequivocally destroyed in some sort of ramp jumping adventure. Then it's acceptable to ride a second hand bike, preferably one that belongs to a kid who is both smaller and poorly supervised.

I also suspect that while bikes overall have throughout the years become quite advanced in design and materials, the average children's bike bought from your department store is badly assembled by a team of inexperienced kids hired over spring break and outfitted with cut rate brakes and accessories.  They're resource heavy crap generally.    

We've had one store bought bicycle ever, the one boy child received from his grandparents as a birthday gift one year, and all of the others have been given to us or found at the dump.  Of course, when a bicycle comes into our life as a found object, it isn't pretty nor intact.  But typically the frames are good and maybe one wheel, and with a bit of Frankensteining (this is a legitimate verb in my house so you'll have to go with it) of a couple of specimens, you've got yourself something greater than the sum of its parts.  It also helps to have somebody on hand who possesses a bit of technical knowledge and - this part is is really important - and has some time to mess around with it all.  Lucky for us, The Man likes hiding in his garage and  having a couple bikes to tinker with provides acceptable cover.

A functioning bike is all the childs have required thus far.  They aren't immune to yearning for block status symbols, but they tend towards lording over their friends their yard and its various trimmings.  The line was drawn, though, last year when Girl child received a hand me down bike from a friend that was in disrepair but, worse, pink.  Girl child considers it a matter of pride to loath pink.  She's got her tween dignity, you know?  Can't be seen on a pink bike.

So The Man went a little further than just making workable.  He also made pretty.  I wish I had before pictures from the bikes the various parts were purloined from, including the pink monstrocity, but this is the result of some gathering, some tinkering, some painting, and $13 worth of new materials.  Yes, we splurged on this one.

And then girl child rode out her shiny new prize (black and blue is very acceptable) and gathered up all the envy from the neighbor kids.  Hopefully, she didn't draw too much attention from some of the bigger bike-manglers, otherwise this might be a short lived adventure in having a nice thing.  A nice thing made from old crappy things.  Incredibly satisfying to say that. 

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7.18.2015

edit

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Summer camps, playdates, carnivals, beaches, camping, slow down SLOW DOWN...

At some point, not so long ago, I intentionally began to be less of a maker, less of a doer.  I began to edit my life and my options.  There must be many more feeling the crush of ambition and knowledge as they say editing is an increasingly important skill for us to develop.  They and me, swamped with information, advice and opinions.  I'm not sure if I want more and there's no more room anyway.

It seems that the messages of my generation intended to expand our freedoms have become tyrants in their own right.  'You can be anything you want to be,' twists into, 'why are you more?'  But who says this 'more' is what we want?  Are we tired of getting everything we ever wanted yet?   

Just a reminder to me: I have all I need and much, much more.  Edit, edit, edit.

7.13.2015

again

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When you think that you've read every book by a certain author, especially that one, but you happen to take a browse through that book again at the library and turns out that you actually haven't read it. So you take it home and start to read and it's brilliant! But then about fifty pages in creeping familiarity suggests that you actually have read this book and just forgotten most of it, even though it's so delightful and funny.  So you continue to read it since about ninety percent of it is basically brand new to you and your addled brain, and you enjoy it immensely.  Again.  And then you go eat some coconut oil and worry about the concussions you received as a child.

I have often wished when I've completed a particularly good book that I could go into my brain and erase the book so I can read it anew once again.  Should I worry or celebrate?

7.12.2015

a Sunday bike ride and a small rant

Our city has miles and miles of glorious walking/biking trails that snake along our river valley.  Access is about three minutes from my door and the childs and I often take advantage of the paths to walk or roll one of our many, many wheelie things.

Usually, though, our use of the paths happens during non-peak hours.  As home schoolers, we like to do our public appearances during the day, when most people are off in some sort of institution or workplace, and we can doodle around with limited contact with humans.  (Especially the skate park as we like to get there before the all the good drugs are gone.  That was a joke.)  Admittedly, summer time is a bit of a nightmare, when the regular rules are out the window and there seems to be children everywhere, all the time.  Seriously, don't they need naps or something?

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Girl child, gloriously alone, at the skate park.  Roller skates, scooters, bikes, skateboards... we love all the rolling wheeled toys.

 Anyway, today I decided to give my asthmatic lungs something real to complain about and take a bike ride on the paths and suck in the acidic apocalyptic atmosphere from the burning of Western Canada.  While I should of thought a bit harder about the poor air quality and the desirability of keeping both lungs inside my body, I completely failed to take into account that Sunday afternoon is high time on the city paths.  Definitely not nap time.

It was interesting to see how many people text while walking.  Or riding their skateboards (while holding their helmets in their other hand, since you only need one hand to participate in social media).  Or riding their bikes.  Being a judgmental person and not having a small hand held Google box myself (I prefer to rely on a slate and chalk for my text communications away from the house), I had some harsh thoughts about this but, really, whatever man.  If someone wants to focus almost exclusively on a screen three inches from their nose and ignore the gorgeous nature all around you, then it's no skin off my teeth.

Nope, actually, my problem is not the screen use but the screen use in addition to the ear buds.  I'm glad the concert is private and I don't have to listen to the (smokey) air being polluted with the bewildering popularity of Katy Perry but I do have some concerns about trail users blocking out two of their five senses when I'm cycling past.  Particularly since the ones they've left themselves with to avoid a collision paradoxically requires close physical contact.  Well, maybe not smell, but if you can smell me, we're too close still.

Have you ever noticed that a person bike riding with ear buds and a phone in their hand tend to sort of weave all over the path, like they've just left happy hour?  Wobbly, weaving cycling is also not a good way to avoid collisions.  I can bing my little bell all day long for all the good it does me.  By their own design, they become aware of me and my bicycle at the point where we are touching.

This is not an ideal situation.

I'm not a stranger to contact.  Violent contact.  I find it fun, actually, when I play roller derby.  But today I've left my mouth guard and sense of fun at home, and I'd rather not bend the rim of my bike on a body or send myself careening off the cliff side into the river to avoid running into a willful deaf and blind person.  This time.  Next time it might be worth the bent rim.

Damn tourists.  On my paths.

Lesson learned.  Before my next bike ride or skate, I will research the peak Internet usage times and be sure to avoid the paths at those times.

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Boy child, aka Green Ninja, at the skate park using his hearing and sight to avoid collisions.  I think.  I'm never quite sure what's really going on with this one.

6.09.2015

blue

Hey, you know how you go and have a baby and you try to imagine what that baby will look like as she grows, and you giggle while you imagine how she'll go through puberty and be a rubbish kid and it's funny because all that seems so impossible when you are holding a newborn in your arms?

And then one day you realize that nearly eleven years have passed and that baby has blue hair and is starting to calls you, 'Mother,' instead of mama and rolls her eyes when you talk while demanding to be taken to the bookstore for a frappe?

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And it's terrifying because you can see both how she's so capable and vulnerable at the same time and she's still a few years away from being a full fledged teenager and what's that going to be like?! 

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But then you remember that she's always been a bit cheeky and too smart for her own good and that just like learning how to care for a baby, then toddler and so on, you will learn to care for the teenager as well.  You are a good mom.  You can tell because you help your baby dye her hair blue and do all the things and don't even make her go to school.   You read her books and feed her mostly healthy food and talk in a calm voice even when you want to throttle her.  You try very hard to be the kind of mom you think that you would of both liked and needed when you were ten.

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And then your baby comes up to you and says she wants to go to regular school next year to just to hang out with her friends and you realize that she's willing to sacrifice her freedom in order to spend her days with children who mock her for not shaving her legs (she's ten!) and boys who throw pudding at her.  And she was wearing your sweater that time and chocolate pudding does not easily come out of wool.  And then you remember the tiny baby you held in your arms that you swore you would always care for and protect, not realizing that in a mere decade that baby would be fighting for the opportunity to not have you care for her and not have you protect her?

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As you breath through this latest development, you also remember another promise you made, this one to yourself and have kept.  You take pictures.  Lots of pictures of the child.  Of things that are important and things that are maybe not such a big deal.  Every day. Because even though it was hard to believe at the time, that small baby would grow up and defy you then leave you and that is as it's supposed to be. 

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