Phoenix, here, is reacting to watching someone mis-handle their dog. I love her expression!
small stone #14
Movement in the long, wet grass –
A small green frog; leggy, climbing
Sticky & spindle;
Bright & dear;
at once alien & familiar.
Nels’ Mario costume turned out so perfect it almost made up for him bitching for ten straight minutes about the spirit-gum application. No one can bitch like Nels can. Promise you.
SO ZOMG I made my son’s costume in the last twenty-four hours. The entire costume. Hat, “overalls”, and shirt. Like, the overalls? Started them this AM when I rolled out of bed. The straps on the overalls are easy-to-remove so after he’s done having a costume he’ll have a long-sleeved shirt in organic cotton, a pair of Carhartt-esque jeans (in a yummy selvedge denim) – and the “M” Mario hat, which I’m quite sure he will want to wear as-is.
My daughter – her costume was easier. And faster. I spent $8 at a thrift store last Saturday. She is a pleasure to work for. Today at school she walked in sans mask and her teacher said, “Huh. You a Canadian?”
Nels’ ability to Mario-pose is freakishly uncanny. He also does the voice. The at-the-very-least-culturally-insensitive Italian Mario voice. He is like a phreakish Mario-parrot.
They’re currently out in the neighborhood getting candy loot; I’m off next door to my mom’s for our tradition of handing out candy on her awesome front porch.
It’s cold and I’m cold on the ride home. I’m cold on the bike most the year, especially on my return trips. I think I get chilled on the trip out, then I sit in my own sweat a bit and get clammy indoors, then back on the bike. Barring proper cycling gear that’s just how it is. For now. I was bringing quarts of hot water which helped a little but not much.
Just after eight, before I set back off to Hoquiam, my friend Charlie accosted me about biking. “You got any protection?” he asks all surly. He means like, a firearm. He’s seventy-something, grew up in the Appalachian mountains, and he is hardcore. He still plays with guns. He’s been shot. By friends and enemies both, I think. Anyway now he says he’s worried. “I”m worried someone’s gonna grab ahold of you,” he tells me. Yeah, I’m thinking. “It hasn’t happened yet,” I tell him, hiking my leg over. “No – but it could!” He is stubborn. He’s a little pissed. “Yeah…” I say. “There are a lot of sick people out there. – Goodnight!” and I’m off.
The streets are cold, crystal-clear, a great big moon. Near-deserted. Past Myrtle and there’s a loud altercation. I can hear angry screaming, abuse, for a full mile. I am sobered at the thought of all the suffering in the world.
Across the bridge and I pull up to Simpson and a red light; another person on a bike is waiting as well. He turns in partial profile and I recognize him. I got to know him a while back when he had a spell clean and sober. He’d put on weight and lost the hardened look in his eye and he was becoming that sweetheart he is, the one that lives within.
Now though, he doesn’t look great. He’s attending a huge plastic garbage bag with presumably all his belongings, somehow balanced on the bike’s handlebars. He turns and I smile at him and greet him by name. He’s trying to figure out who I am and I notice with a crystal-clear delight two items in his overstuffed backpack – a pair of miniature dachshunds peeping me with large, liquid eyes. I ask about the dogs. He tells me their names – mother and daughter. He asks me how he knows me and I tell him. I tell him I have an eighty-pound dog and can’t pack him in a backpack.
The light turns. I tell the man to Take Care and I’m off into the night. Amber streetlight. Smell of ozone and deep green grass. Almost home.
I pull up to my house to a crumpled dog hair-infused afghan swaddling a huge pile of leaves on the porch. Fancy, I think. And sure enough when I walk in the door my nine year-old tells me: “Mama did you see the leaves I put on the porch? Because they are fancy.”
I lean the bike against the coffee table and stride into the kitchen and greet my husband. And I stand at the stove and eat like three lentil tacos and take a swig of Mexican Coke.
Home again, home again, jiggity-jig.
It was difficult saying goodbye to my cargo bike, but as I might have imagined, my new bicycle has already gifted me as it is so much lighter and swifter. I have found myself riding even more than previous. These past few weeks, riding has been a wonderful exercise in patience, persistence, courage, and acceptance.
Bicycling is patience-building. Patience with the weather; rain is experienced as unpleasant, and headwinds reduce my speed by many minutes. Patience with my body, which still groans in pain here and there. My body gets stronger and more used to the bike’s stance, but I still walk up Scammell Hill, for instance. And on this hill, I rest a bit while I walk. I just give myself enough time that I can rest when I need to. Why not?
Persistence is manifested, for me, in the fact I ride the bike even though I have a working car (and sometimes, people asking me for rides in that car!). It is a real practice on my part, to commit to a longer travel time instead of darting around in the (mistaken) belief that I “must not waste time” and should use the car. It is also a real practice for me to say “No” to those who want rides! Over the last few weeks I have noticed that the supposed time-saving benefits of a car are sometimes disingenuous or not real. My bike never needs gassing up, for instance, and is easier to park every time. And if the winds are working with me it can be as swift to bike as to drive, depending on where I go!
It takes courage to bike, for me, because cars and car-drivers are not 100% safe, and also people seem to be often telling me how unsafe it is to bike. Due to a little bit of factual danger but probably due a lot more to cultural naysaying, the bike experience can sometimes feel more vulnerable. In a car I have the illusion of safety and control; on the bike, I do not. In a car I am unlikely to get shouted at or sexually harassed; on the bike, I am more likely to get stared at or accosted. Even then, though, things aren’t all that they seem. The more personal/”vulnerable” nature of the bike is mostly a very pleasant thing. I make a lot more eye contact on the bike, smile a lot more, am smiled at in return, can have conversations easily and get to see deer and kitties and puppies and children and people and foliage and our cities’ beauty a lot more. Two days ago I found an enameled ring on the road and gifted it to my son, tying it around his neck by a cord. All in all, the intimacies of the bike are a experienced in a pleasurable way, not a painful one.
When I get home, I submit a prayer of gratitude that I’ve had a safe ride, yet again.
I practice Acceptance when I ride my bike on all the things aforementioned – but most profoundly with my experiences of impermanence and Not-Self. The ride puts me in the moment in a way the convenience of the car leads me to not experience the moment. Bike riding helps me recognize that my ego and my circumstances and my thoughts are finite, limited, impermanent, and in their way, full of suffering. I have a brief bit of time I can meditate and experience the Now and when I do, I touch the infinite, the limitless, the joyful, and I smile at the mystery of my suffering, which is still with me after all these years.
Acceptance and Gratitude permeate my thought-stream while I ride, and even after I get home. I’ve put a couple hundred miles on the bike and due to some pain issues I am ready to take it in and talk about possible adjustments or changes. I find I’ve been thinking about how much I’d greatly enjoy a YMCA membership so I could treat myself to some swimming or yoga or weight lifting to help balance my body from the unique stress of and performance of riding – to un-stiffen my body (and of course, I’d also like a membership so I could take the children swimming!).
But even there, the bike reminds me things don’t have to be perfect for me to be Okay. I can practice acceptance, courage, patience, persistence and gratitude without having the whole thing figured out. I can enjoy my riding even without the perfect geometry, the best biking gear, a pain-free body, or the sometimes-coveted Y membership.
Riding my bike teaches me to smile at The Way Things Are.
I first saw the “JESUS <3s YOU" bus as I biked past the laundromat this afternoon, returning from some voluteer work. And I thought, wish I had a camera, but I didn’t, so. Later in the day the very singular vehicle was parked on a side street we drove down – and I snapped this picture. The long-haired blonde man out front playing guitar through some amplifier shouted a compliment at my dog, in the back of my mom’s truck.
Today was a good day.
Tonight I tell my son. “I apologize.” “For what?” he asks. “For not getting you ice cream today.” “That’s okay,” he says. “There’s always tomorrow. Do you like my folder?” – holding up a semi-misshapen bit of crafting paper taped up like no tomorrow.
I like his folder so much. I like how tenderheartd my children are. I like today when we got a furniture delivery how helpful and kind the children were, and how when we left to get our groceries, Nels turned to his sister and sighed, “We have a good life.”
Oh and today I heard the best meth-story today involving a nap and a sandwich, a story from a recovering addict. I won’t type it out here but if you run into me, go ahead and ask.
First, my daughter’s Scootaloo hoodie (you can look at the Flickr tagset, which includes some construction discussion).
I’m seriously proud of my rendition of the Cutie Mark Crusaders’ badge.
Next up: Nels’ hooded linen coat. My design, Franken-patterned from previous designs. A fully-lined and underlined jacket in a linen/rayon blend. Square pockets, pointed pieced hood. Hand-knit i-cord drawstring. A hood with axotl external gills. YOU HEARD
Ah, yeah… I made the pants too. Super-fun. I think I shall be sewing with linen ALL SUMMER LONG
Yes, those are bound buttonholes. Want a closeup?
Holding hands, I solemnly tell my son:
“Thich Nhat Hanh says, ‘The true miracle is not walking on water or walking in air, but simply walking on this earth.'”
Nels smiles: “PWNed, walking-on-water!” and then he giggles.
My son tells me the walk is “romantic”. My daughter brings me a flower. Then she says, “Never leave me.”