Thursday, August 31, 2006

The GEMcar: One mini-car option

Here’s one of the options Lindi and I have considered on our way to becoming a single car unit. Our conclusion? This vehicle isn’t much more substantial than a bicycle. And you're out there with the big guys in the car lanes with a top speed of 25 mph. Plus the weather would get you. Instead of warming up like you do when you pedal a bike, in this thing you’d be sitting still and freeze to death in the winter. If we’re going to own only one car between us, this isn’t it. Cute, though. And it's completely electric.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Cycling is apparently not enough

I’m so confused. I spend a total of at least 60 minutes a day bicycling and it doesn’t count as the weight-bearing exercise I’m supposed to be getting to keep my girlish bones from shrinking. That is so not right.

But that’s what they say, so in addition to biking I frequent a gym in the hope that bearing weights counts as weight-bearing exercise – although “frequent” isn’t a word I can honestly use to describe my recent attendance pattern. Except then last week I had that experience of not being able to lift my bike onto the train hook, and I’m a changed woman. Reformed for life. I’ve figured out the problem and I’ve got the solution.

First, the problem: I don’t like gyms. I don’t like lifting weights. I feel foolish doing any exercise that is pretend, such as riding a bicycle that goes nowhere, rowing a boat on dry land, or moving inert cast iron items that have absolutely no need of being relocated. And if I have to do something that dumb, I certainly don’t want to record on a chart the number of times I do it. Besides not enjoying any of this, I resent using up what precious time I have left on the planet in the pursuit of such inane activities. Nor do I particularly connect with people who work or hang out at gyms. I’m not saying they’re not bright, intelligent people – I’m the one who can’t talk and work out at the same time – but we clearly have differing ideas about what fun is. And the last hateful thing I’d like to share with you is that I resent having to change clothes more than twice in a day.

So there you have it – my big fat bad attitude in a nutshell.

I know what you’re thinking. How is someone like that going to force herself to go to a gym without pointing a gun at her own head?

But there’s good news, and it is this: I do like how I feel as a result of lifting weights. Though I object to having to use up that time, it is actually time saved when I consider that to achieve the same results from an authentic, productive activity, I would have to be employed as a farm hand – which would take longer.

Instead of having to wrestle with the time issue, the clothes change issue, the scheduling issue, and the self-flagellation issue, I’ve decided to simply eliminate the loathsome thrice weekly errand of “going to the gym.”

That’s right boys and girls. But wait! Didn’t I just finish implying that I was reformed into a fitness zealot?

Here’s my new M.O. Instead of all that rigamarole, I’m simply going to “drop by the gym” on a daily basis. I’m not changing my clothes, making a special trip over there, then taking a shower and changing clothes back again and then making the return trip. No.

I belong to a gym that’s located right on the way to where I’m usually going. (Portland is so full of gyms now that it isn’t hard to set that up.) When I ride past it, I stop in. Do I change my clothes? No I do not. I throw my stuff in a locker, I stroll into the workout area, I do somma these and somma those. Do I keep track? No I do not. I ask myself, what do I feel like doing today? I do it. I do not write it down. How do I remember how much weight I used before? I don’t. Do I care? I do not. I pick a weight amount. If it’s too hard or too easy, I change it.

I do this for twenty to thirty minutes. If I’m not done in thirty minutes, too bad - time’s up. I grab my stuff out of the locker, I depart. Do I feel sweaty? A little. Do I care? I do not. Do other people care? I doubt it.

As for not connecting with the people, that turns out to be a good thing because it means I’m not inclined to strike up conversations and thus prolong my stay or use up my allotted gym time on chatting instead of exercising.

As for the expense factor, I’ve come to terms with that too. I’ve realized I’m more than willing to pay a monthly stipend to a gym for the service of keeping unsightly items such as exercise equipment out of my home.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006


Last week when I took the bike on the train I discovered something horrible. I’m too wimpy. Or my bike is too heavy. Or a combination of both.

Wake up call! Get some muscles.

Getting your bike onto the train is no problem, since the train floor lines up with the level of the station platform. You can happily stand there with your bike for the whole ride and then roll off effortlessly when the train stops. But if you have a long way to go and you want to ride sitting down you’ll need to hang your bike on one of the bike hooks.

When I tried this, I discovered to my horror that I could hardly do it. It took me several attempts. The wiggliness of the floor my feet relied on didn’t help. I finally succeeded but my back scolded me later.

You know what just isn’t right? The gigantic young male hot-shot who could lift an entire car and hang it up on the hook will inevitably own a 12 pound bike that he can lift with his pinky. At the same time you’ll see all these mature, testosterone-free, not super-athletic women trudging along on iron horses that way about 40 pounds. That doesn’t make sense. We should all trade bikes.

It’s not that I can’t lift 40 pounds. I can do that with ten fingers if it’s in the form of two little iron balls with a handle in the middle. But you try to lift a bicycle and it starts flipping and flopping and pinching and grabbing like a captured crawfish -- only much, much bigger.

I can throw my bike into the back of a car, no problem. I’ve got that down. But can I lift it up onto a car-top bike rack? Are you kidding? Lift this flailing, swiveling metal contraption with a hundred moving parts that are all trying to pinch or impale me? Lift the weight of this squirming beast up over my head and then hold it aloft while leaning over slightly to maneuver a tire into a skinny little slot? I think not.

What’s the use of having a human-powered vehicle if I have to go fetch another human to help me lift it? How independent is that? If I can’t lift my own vehicle I might as well get a vehicle I equally can’t lift that has a motor. Like a scooter. That’s an alternative I have by no means ruled out. But for now I’m going to take the cheaper route and get some muscles. Where I’m going to get them will be tomorrow’s blog topic.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Andrew: His Own Mammal

Meet Andrew. I did. Why? When a cyclist whooshes by me wearing a kangaroo head and it’s not Halloween, I make a point of meeting that person. I’m a cyclist reporting on what cyclists are doing, and as such I feel it’s my job to bring you what’s really happening out there on the front lines of cycling in Portland.

We saw him from our car on the way to my parents’ house for the evening. I had Lindi do a hairpin turn in the middle of the street and chase him down. (Lindi is not fond of hairpin turns, and I would never suggest such a thing under ordinary circumstances, but we would have lost him had we not acted swiftly.)

At first he was reticent.
“It’s just a hat,” he said, shrugging his shoulders.
Under further questioning he admitted that it was a special hat, then conceded that it was different, and finally admitted it was in fact a totally unique hat.

And just where did he procure such a feral bonnet?
A friend gave him a kangaroo suit for his birthday, he revealed. He didn’t feel it would be appropriate to wear the suit on a daily basis, so he decapitated it so he could wear just the head.

In spite of his initial reluctance to cast his choice of head-wear as anything out of the ordinary, in the end Mr. Andrew admitted that it was in truth the sheer absurdity of it that compelled him to wear it.

It wasn’t easy extracting all this information from this guy. Like interviewing a kangaroo. But a good reporter will dog the right questions till the real story surfaces. Just remember you know where to come for the lowdown on the hidden underbelly of Portland cycling.

Tell your friends. One covets ever-increasing readership if one is a writer. Does one not?

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Against All Odds, Intrepid Cyclist Reaches Far-Flung Destination

It only takes about ten minutes to ride from my house to the Max station. That’s Portland’s subway system, only it’s not sub, it's above ground. I don't ride the Max often but when I do, I wonder who Max was and why he got a transportation system named after him. I did not actually find myself boarding a train until ten o’clock, so there went the first thirty minutes just on the house-to-train portion of the trip. You can take your bike with you on the Max, you just roll it right on. It took another thirty minutes, almost exactly, to reach the Gresham City Hall Transit Center stop, where the mangled piece of paper in my hand said to disembark.

From there it took me another 30 minutes to ride my bike to the courthouse. Not because it was really 30 minutes away, but because I had to extrapolate, as I went, the correct version of reality from a few lines drawn on paper, and that’s not my area of expertise. Give me a language to learn and I’ll know exactly what to do, but if you want me to get from point A to point B, now you’re taxing me way down at the molecular level.

I actually rode right by it at one point, but missed it because I spied a courthouse-shaped structure further ahead so I aimed right for that. It had a mansard roof and a cupola on top – what was I to think? But when I reached it I saw that it was only a faux courthouse with a brick veneer and snap-in window mullions that housed a bank.

Stumped, I decided to seek guidance from one of the indigenous people. From the meager selection of pedestrians available in this pedestrian-unfriendly landscape, I chose an extra-gnarly-looking one, thinking he would be the most likely to know the location of the courthouse. Sure enough, he perked up and came to life just like I would if a passerby asked me a question about why you can’t use an intransitive verb in the passive voice.

He directed me back the way I’d come. “You’ll see the Gresham Rifle Club alongside the Gresham Masonic Center and then you’ll come to it, right past Living Art Tattoos. It’s easy to miss. It’s a small, low building with a little tiny sign.”

So there I went and when I got right up close to it I finally spotted one of those green highway signs, under an overhanging tree branch, that said Circuit Court.

Here’s a picture of what I at first rode right past before I found the nice gnarly man to help me. If you look closely you can just barely decipher the Circuit Court sign sticking up behind the pickup, under the shrubbery there.

I entered the building seeing no other human life besides the security person until I came to a glass reception window with a young woman behind it. Apologizing for my lateness I explained that I was there for jury duty if they still needed anybody. She was so sweet. Very unlike the remarkably unsweet person I’d spoken to on the phone at 8 o’clock that morning.

“Well actually, all our cases for today went away, so if you like you can just turn in your badge here, and you’re free to go.”

So I rode my bike and the train back home, which now that I knew the way, took me an hour instead of an hour and a half.

Friday, August 25, 2006

The Road to Gresham was Paved with Good Intentions

As I was saying yesterday, I got called up from the waiting area at 11:00 A.M. to learn that my jury duty was to take place in Gresham, requiring an expedition to the nether reaches of suburbia the following day. (For the rest of Tuesday I was excused.) It wasn’t jury duty that I minded (Remember? I told you I’m over that.) It was the trip to Gresham.

The desolate tundra that is, in the cobwebby travel annals of my mind, Gresham, sprawls itself over the earth, coating it with asphalt in the form of five and six lane sidewalk-less boulevards lined with unsightly industries like car lots, shopping malls, and fast-food joints.

Am I being unfair?

I don’t insist that it’s a completely accurate image, but somehow that’s the image that has wormed its way into the ‘impressions’ department of my brain over the years. (I heard they rejected Wallmart, though, which sounds hopeful….) Other suburbs evoke in me the same allergic reaction. They’re all exactly the same, identity-less, across America. To me they represent what happens to urban design when it is left in the hands of developers and revolves around the car instead of the human being, and they depress me horridly.

Hence my bad attitude.

I arrived at the Gresham courthouse at 11:00 Wednesday morning, a two-hour lateness which I blame only partly on myself. The rest I blame on the rudeness of the Gresham courthouse staff person I spoke to on the phone, the distance of the Gresham courthouse from my home, and my genetic lack of aptitude for orienting myself in three-dimensional space.

As a first step, those of us assigned Gresham duty were to call there Tuesday evening to confirm need for jurors the next day. However, the evening phone schedule provided by the Portland courthouse did not jive with reality at the Gresham courthouse, and the promised live staff person proved unavailable. A blunt recording instructed the caller to appear the next morning.

My hopes dashed, I held out for the possibility that the recording was outdated, as recordings are wont to be, and called at 8:00 the next morning hoping to be told I didn’t need to make the trip.

Hello, I’m calling about jury duty.
Yeah, you need to show up.
Do you know if ….. do they know yet if jurors are still needed for today?
You need to show up at nine o’clock to find out.
Oh. Ok, well I’m not sure how long it’ll take me to get out there, so… what happens if I’m a little late?
You can’t be late. You’d better hit the road right now, because you have to be here at nine o’clock.
It’s kind of a ways out there. Is there any chance that I could be in the Thursday group?
No. You have to show up today.

It wasn’t what she said as much as how she said it. After being treated like the Queen of Citizenship at the courthouse in Portland , I was completely unprepared for this kind of reception. This woman was so curt, and so abrupt, and so condescending that she brought out my inner eight-year-old, and I suddenly felt all crabby and resentful.

I didn’t actually depart from my dwelling till 9:30, which I openly admit was, in part, lame. But it was also partly necessary. I’m not a person who can just hurl myself willy-nilly out the door and expect to arrive somewhere. I need to seriously plan, much like the early explorers planned out a trip to the New World or the North Pole. I need to get out maps, compass, and sextant, and plot out the entire journey, with the help of the Personal Orienteering Aide I am very lucky to have (whose name starts with L). Plus I need to throw together a lunch – I’m not about to go launching off to remote Gresham, land of the burger joint, without something edible in my luggage.

Now that I’ve finally come to the BIKE part of the story, I fear my blogging time has run out. I’m going to have to wrap this up tomorrow, which is unfortunate after you’ve slogged along with me all this way through some of the most dismal parts. But you should definitely come back for the ending. Is it a happy ending? Well, it depends on your point of view. Nevertheless, I can promise that someday you’ll thank me, someday when you get called to jury duty, because you’ll know what to expect, you’ll be prepared, and equipped to work the system in such a way that you can serve without all this tedium.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Juror Saves the Public Buckets of Money by Riding Bike to Courthouse

Tuesday, when I reported for jury duty, I didn’t get called up till 11:00 A.M. Up till then I was happily camped out in a soft squishy chair in the huge waiting room with my book. At 11:00, though, I got called for the group that (surprise!) had to go to Gresham. For this I was not happy.

For those of you not from around here, Gresham is a whole 'nother city. To someone only recently arrived at the level of civic responsibility at which I actually embraced jury duty, this was seriously pushing it.

At this point I want to emphasize that every single person I dealt with at the courthouse in downtown Portland was absolutely stellar. They were as respectful to us as if ….. as if we were law-abiding U.S. citizens. They kept in mind that we were not at the courthouse because we’d run amuck of the law, but because we were giving our time.

After overhearing one particular conversation, I can say that they were polite way past the call of duty. This one woman lined up to complain that her name had been called out as “Susan” and her name was actually “Suzy.” You see? That would have broken right through my politeness threshold, had I been staff person she was addressing. I would’ve told her to get over it and roll with “Susan” for the next few hours, it wouldn’t kill her, and that after that she could go home and forget about the whole traumatic experience. But no, that staff person, whose name I think was Mary Anne, said “Well, give me your papers and let’s see if we can get it right.”
Good grief! I’ve been told I’m a patient person, but I pass my patience medal on to Mary Anne.

Did you know that they’ll actually reimburse you for transportation costs when you go for jury duty? They have you write down your costs on the form. Since I rode my bike down, I had no costs. Probably I could have legitimately counted my breakfast as a fuel expense, but I’m too mature for that kind of rationalizing (though I still thought of it).

The announcer guy said that we could choose not to be reimbursed and that money would go into a pot to buy amenities for the waiting room. So far, he said, the saved money had been used to buy the nice soft chairs we were sitting in. And even though the chairs had absolutely no back support whatsoever, they were indeed cushy, for which I was extremely grateful.

What I was not grateful for was the television, which the man said was the next amenity they bought. My wait was perfectly pleasant until someone turned on a game show, at which point it became perfectly unpleasant. If you wanted to either 1.torture me, or 2. drive me to homicide, all you’d have to do is put me in a room with daytime TV (or anytime TV) for a mere couple of hours. I absolutely cannot take this. So at this point my generous feeling about not costing the court any transportation reimbursement did a complete flip and I suddenly felt stingy. But my feeling flipped back when it occurred to me that even further saved money could be used to buy headphones for the TV people.

I retreated to the corner of the (fortunately very large) room farthest from the TV and huddled deeper into my book and chair. Luckily I was called up after only another half hour. Unluckily I got Gresham.

Tomorrow I’ll write about how I saved the court even more transportation reimbursement by riding my bike to Gresham.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Poem Wards off Thievery

I was able to run over and meet with the horse people at Pearl Bakery at lunch time yesterday. During the scant hour that we sat there at a table on the sidewalk, probably four different people or sets of people interacted with the horse across the street, which is the main horse I’ve tracked all along. The poem seems to be working. This latest horse hasn’t been taken. (If this adorable family would like me to send them the several photos I took as well as these, they could look me up in the phone book and leave me their email address in a phone message.)

Additions made to recent posts

Please note that a note has been noted in the post that mentioned the Feral Cat Coalition of Oregon last week, the one about cats and their people. If you scroll down, you will see it in bold print.
Also, the group photo I took of the birthday celebrators has finally been inserted.

Today's post will appear shortly.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Boo, Hiss and Yay

Today's posting will have to be horribly postponed due to the fact that I have to show up at this ridiculous hour for jury duty -- a system I believe in but a duty I have managed to shirk for my entire adult life.

With luck, I'll be determined unsuitable and be rejected immediately.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Bikes and Horses Come Together

Bike and Horse people gathered together to celebrate a common theme: Free the planet from the smog-belching Moving Metal Deathtrap. For this is the premise of RideMyHandlebars, is it not? That and one other concept, also threaded throughout the conversations of these like-minded thinkers at the birthday: If we would all just slow down, turn off our relentless chatterbox and look around, our experience of life would be so rich that the ordinary and mundane would become gloriously fascinating and irresistibly interesting.

Topics bounced around were bikes, horses, bike theft & horse-thievery, zoo-bomb riding, moving by bike, scooters, fish-noodling, disaster readiness, welding tea strainers, movie-making, bike traffic tickets, community art projects, and bike carts. Except for the occasional descent into horse-thief profiling and bike-rider stereotyping, conversation hovered pleasantly in the range of the immaculately tasteful.

We were all so enthralling that none of us appeared remotely interested in leaving until about 6:30. At the end, the horses (sporting their colorful party umbrellas) were returned to their keepers, who will assign them a new and safer spot, and we all went along our merry way.

Thank you, everyone, for celebrating with me a year of writing that has been so much fun that I often wake up in the night disappointed to find it’s not yet time to get up and blog.

Saturday, August 19, 2006


“Rizzio's Rescued Art Sale,” said the ad. A friend called and asked if we’d like to meet them there, reading us the ad over the phone. “Judith 'rescues' art from garage sales, thrift stores, dumpsters, and anywhere else she finds it being neglected or under appreciated. Our house is filled with rescued art, but we just don't have room to enjoy it all.”

We rode our bikes over to this yard sale of art, vintage items, olive oil, and salt, where wine, nuts, and other nibblies were served to the browsers. Some figures on an old wicker table caught my eye. "Oh look, they have some horses here, just like --- OMG!" I stopped short, grabbing Lindi's arm and whispering urgently. "It’s them! It’s the horses! Look! the cut cables are still attached! Oh! I can’t believe this! How can they be so blatant! What? They go around cutting loose the horses and then put them up for grabs at their own art sale? Aaaaaaaak!"

I tried to calm myself by taking a few pictures before the abducted steeds might gallop away and hide in the garage. I glanced around till I located someone running the show and asked him, “What’s the story on the horses?”

“Oh, those aren’t for sale. They’re just out there on display. We’re hoping to find someone who can get them back to where they belong.”

That would be me.

The man (who turned out to be food writer Aaron Clark-Rizzio, hence the extra garage-full of olive oil and gourmet salt), directed me to his wife, Judith, for the complete story.

She was up on Alberta somewhere, around 24th or 25th, she thinks, and she saw a man approaching the horses with a huge pair of loppers and a hostile demeanor. She tried to talk him out of it, but he wouldn’t hear of it. “This! is ridiculous!” he retorted.

“Oh, it’s fun! she pleaded.

No use. Lop, Lop, there they went. And he snatched them up, stomped over to a garbage can, and plunged them in. “And it wasn’t just plain garbage, it was messy, icky garbage,” complained Judith, who had then extracted them from the mess and brought them home. “The man seemed so angry.”

She did not know if he belonged to one of the nearby businesses. But clearly he was a person who worked or lived close enough to be bothered by the presence of the horses. Another clue: who walks around carrying major garden-loppers in their back pocket? He had to have a place nearby to keep a pair of huge loppers on hand.

Oh well. Man! Some people are grouchy. No doubt he’s got some really good reason to be such a crab, and if we knew what it was we’d all be saying, “Wow. No wonder!”

Two horses, saved, by art rescuer Judith Rizzio, and placed among a collection of other salvaged treasures, waiting to be discovered by people in search of art.
We bought a painting we both fell in love with simultaneously -- and did we transport the painting home on our bicycles? No, we did not. We smuggled the painting along with the horses into the four-wheeled vehicle of our friends, and lured them to our home with the promise of ginger beer.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Party Over Here!

Now I have two things to celebrate tomorrow.

As I posted on Tuesday, I will be sitting in the garden of the Pied Cow from 3 to 5 tomorrow (Saturday) sipping away on an elixir of the gods in celebration of the one year birthday of my blog. Normally I’d be napping during that time slot, but I’m making an exception for this special occasion. I will be accompanied by the reluctantly famous Lindi (not her real name). You are cordially invited to join us. Bring money.

The address is 3244 SE Belmont Street Portland, OR 97214 (503) 230-4866. Look for an old Victorian house in the middle of the block, surrounded by trees. The sign is small and not very visible from the street. Five dollars and an extra dollar for tipping can buy you heaven-in-a-glass at this marvelous oasis.

Since I have not yet succeeded in adding the promised green balloon to my wardrobe, you may have to recognize me in some other way. Look for a bicycle or bicycle prop.

This is not a party. Did I once use the word party? No, I did not. This is a small tranquil gathering for like-minded people to come together in a civilized manner and discuss bicycles and horses in polite, subdued tones. Which brings me to the next topic of celebration, as well as tomorrow’s headline: HORSE-NAPPER CAUGHT RED-HANDED! HORSES RESCUED FROM CERTAIN DUMP-DEATH!

Would I ever lie to you? You know I wouldn’t. And though I never blog on weekends, I’m making a special exception tomorrow because this is just too good to wait till Monday. And here’s the best part: I’ll have the horses in tow at the garden! That’s it! That’s how you’ll be able to recognize me! Who needs a green balloon? Look for the horses!

And horse people: if you ever want to see your horses alive again, this is your chance. Not only can you see them, if you can convince me you’re one of the horse people, you can have them back.

It’s NAP-time in the garden of good and evil. [..wicked laughter in background..]

Bike Ride Leads to Fascinating Story about Cats and Their People

Here is the feral cat feeder I mentioned in yesterday’s blog posting. Unfortunately the cats ran away when they saw us and refused to be photographed. Also I have lost the piece of paper where I wrote a few notes, but I think the cat-feeder's name was Anne, and I think I remember most of her story.

About a year and a half ago, someone at her work was talking about having seen some kittens along the bike path, so she went to find them, saw that they were uncared for, and began taking them food every day and leaving it at this same spot. After a while her job went away, but she kept feeding the kittens even after she went on unemployment and they grew up to be cats. Eventually she sold her car [yay] rather than keep up the expense of maintaining it, but she kept feeding the cats every day, approaching as close as she could by bus and the rest of the way on foot. When she began having some problems with her feet, this became more difficult. Besides that, it wasn’t exactly cheap buying them all this cat food. I had noticed that this wasn’t just a bunch of table scraps she was bringing them, but a combination of good quality wet and dry cat food.

She said that the project was getting too hard for her so she asked Mother Theresa for help. The next day when she came to feed the cats she found a note from the Feral Cat Coalition saying Whoever has been feeding these cats, we’ll take over from here six days a week, but if you could keep doing it on Sundays, that would be great.

[Wait. I've heard from the Feral Cat Coalition of Oregon in response to this blog and it seems that this is not exactly what they do. They do not take on feeding cat colonies. I'll get more details for you and clarify this as soon as possible. Maybe I'll find my missing piece of paper. Meanwhile, do not call the FCCO at this time and try to get them to adopt your neighborhood cat colony. Details to come in a future blog post.]

So that’s what she was doing there last Sunday when we stopped our bikes and turned around to ride back and talk to this woman Lindi noticed scooting food under the fence to a cat. We just had to ask.

On a bike it’s easy to stop and talk to people that catch your interest. I highly recommend it for good stories and connection with other human beings.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Naked Person Delivered

For those of you who've been checking back all the livelong day in anticipation of the promised photo of the naked person, Blogger still won't let me insert it into my posting below, so here it is all by itself.

Wild Animals & Hidden Humans

Sunday when Lindi and I were out on our bikes, we ran across the annual Bridgepedal mob, which we rode along with for a few blocks. Look, they’re all dressed alike.

We’ve ridden the bridge pedal a couple of times, but this year we didn’t feel like it. Riding among hordes of cyclists and taking over the bridges feels pretty darned exciting, but we weren’t in the mood for hordes.

Instead we set out to explore some new routes, in particular to plot out safe and pleasant ways to get to my parents’ house over in Eastmoreland. Lindi pointed out several scenes I would have missed, such the naked person sunning on the dock, the two couples practicing their ballroom dancing on an office-building patio, and the woman feeding the ferile cats. Not to suggest that I am a less than keenly observant individual myself, but it turns out that four eyes are better than two. (Interesting cat-person story, which I’ll provide tomorrow.)

Riding along the gorgeous Springwater Corridor on the riverbank, we overshot Eastmoreland and followed it all the way to its end in Sellwood. The extra distance was well worth the car-free riding.

Here is the aforementioned naked person [see next posting], off beyond the blackberry bushes, next to an upturned bicycle. It’s always good to have the words “naked person” in one’s blog once in a while, because it ups your hit-ratings. That’s because a lot of people google those words. No doubt they’re disappointed to then be directed to my blog, but who cares, at least my numbers are up.

Along the way we veered off to explore a brand new stretch of path that detours across the base of Oaks Bottom, a wildlife reserve we have right in our city. There’s a steep dirt hiking path where you’re almost guaranteed to see blue herons and other wildlife – including certain wild-looking humans, for which reason I have never felt safe hiking there alone. Maybe this asphalt bike path crossing the bottom of it will bring increased visibility to the area. Before, the refuge felt much more hidden away. That’s good for the animals, but unfortunately draws other critters, of the two-legged featherless variety, in search of refuge for other reasons, such as, they just escaped from jail. Bike traffic is such a benign way to deal with that problem because it brings in more sets of eyes without any traffic noise, and yet it’s pass-through traffic that doesn’t stick around and “use up” the area.

Pictures of all the refuge animals are painted all along the center of the path to remind you of what you might see if you’re watchful and quiet, and probably also to alert you not to run over any of them crossing the path.

We made it to my parents' house, and after a brief visit and a snack, we used our trusty bike map to find our way back home by a more direct route along designated “bike boulevards.” (That's what the city bike planners designate residential streets without much car traffic.)

A guy on a tall-bike rode past us waving a large planet-flag, on a lone quest to spread his Sunday message through city.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Bike Move -- The Movie

This guy was making a movie of the move while riding a bicycle and hauling a trailer full of computer equipment all at the same time. The term “multi-tasking” seems too puny to describe it. I have since found out he is Dan Kaufman, who has his own TV cycling channel online called Crank My Chain. You can see his movie of the event at

For still more photo coverage and information on bike moves, see all the links that people posted in the comments section following my bike move posts. All are very entertaining and well-worth checking out.

Thanks everybody, for writing in and letting me know what a big dope I was for thinking I was the first to publicize this (Ha!) and for letting the world know that this weren’t no one-time, half-baked, potato-roll, but an organized and growing phenomenon. No, let’s go even further (risking accusations of horrible punning) and call it a MOVEMENT.

At least I hope it’s a movement. I wonder if it sprang forth from the loins of Portland. In any case, I hope the idea spreads like crazy all over our oil-guzzling, gas-hogging nation.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Blog Birthday

This Saturday, August 19th , will be the exact ONE YEAR BIRTHDAY of my blog. I will be celebrating with my favorite drink in the entire world -- an Iced Mocha Float, a drink unlike any other – at my favorite refreshment establishment, the Pied Cow Coffeehouse, with a small handful of friends.

The address is: 3244 SE Belmont Street Portland, OR 97214 (503) 230-4866

Anyone who would care to join me is welcome. I’ll be there between 3 and 5. Look for me in the garden. I will be wearing a green balloon.

We will watch for you.

Here at last are the slippery photos....

OK, I give up on Blogger. This is the worst it's ever been. Will NOT let me insert my pictures into my last post like I wanted -- except, mysteriously -- for one of them. So now I'm posting them separately.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Move Your Household by Bicycle

Remember those four or five wine-sized boxes Lindi and I were moving from point A to our house last week? Well Saturday morning we were moving them from our house to point B. What better justification for completely guilt-free car usage?

After unloading the boxes we stopped by Powell's, where we drove around and around looking for a parking place, consuming as much fuel as we did to get there in the first place. We bought some books, among them “How to Live Well Without Owning a Car” by Chris Balish, which I’ll tell you all about later.

Back in our Moving Metal Deathtrap, we head up to the Broadway Bridge, and we see this strange sort of “cluster” making its way up the ramp ahead of us, like a giant lumbering insect. What IS that, we wonder. As we get closer we notice signs on the back of it, one of which we can make out to say “Wide Load.” Suddenly Lindi exclaims, "It’s a bunch of bicycles! Dragging a bunch of stuff!" and then, by now directly behind it I realize, “OMG! They’re MOVING!”

And friends, I do not mean moving as in wiggling insect, I mean moving as in moving-van moving. Except that they were completely van-less.

Yes, they were moving an entire house-full of possessions, including the two most difficult ones: bed and couch. I didn’t see a piano, but all the other household components were there, being dragged up the hill by sheer human leg-power.

Of course, I began clicking furiously with my camera out the window. Lindi drove behind them for a few yards and then drove slowly alongside them while I snapped away until finally passing them and then, once across the bridge, she pulled over so I could hop out and take more photos from the sidewalk as they rode by. I jumped back in and we followed them up Weidler and she slowed alongside them again so I could take still more.

I want to take a moment here to express my gratitude for Lindi’s skill and patience and perseverance. This is a person who does not like to make a scene, cause trouble, annoy people, or least of all be honked at. But she kept on it for the higher cause of recording this groundbreaking event so that I could bring it to the Whole Wide World on my blog, and show you all what can be done without burning oil. Thank you, Miss Lindi.

Moving by Bicycle could become the modern day version of the Barn Raising, when rural neighbors used to get together from miles around to raise a barn in a day. No doubt these cyclists will remember this feat way into the far reaches of senility. I didn’t get a chance to interview any of them, but I passed out my press card (blog card) with wild abandon so they could read about themselves. So if any of them are reading this and would like to write in, I and the readers would welcome any more details you can provide.

We must all do what we can to get the word out that the necessity of cars has been grossly inflated. Send the link to your friends.

[Blogger isn't very good at pictures, so I'll have to work with it a bit. I hope to get them up withing the next couple of hours. You will be amazed.]

still no luck on the photos, darnit, but I'll keep trying! If you were sent a link to this site by email, click on the refresh button so that as the photos are posted, you will get them too.

At this point Blogger has allowed me one photo -- one. Of the seven good ones I have. I may have to get back to this later. I can't mess with this all day, and Blogger works better in the evening. sorry. I'm going to find a better way, I promise. I've been sent suggestions.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Nothing You Can’t Do With a Bicycle

A quick weekend note: I can’t WAIT till Monday. Once again I was in exactly the right place at the right time and I witnessed an UNbelievable bicycling spectacle. Un. It could be the first time in history this has ever been done, and it took place right here in Portland. I was running around like a lunatic with my camera, and I have the most amazing photos to show you. The news should have been all over this, but they missed it. RideMyHandlebars is the only place you’ll be able to witness this astounding feat. Check in with me tomorrow morning (I don’t blog on the weekends).

Friday, August 11, 2006

Conclusion of story added below

The conclusion of yesterday's story has now been added. Scroll down in the posting below to where you left off yesterday and you will find it, with the promised photos.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

The Significance of a Parking Space in the Love Relationship

Even if completely oblivious to the car problems of noise, pollution, and oil consumption, no one can deny the space problem. And I don’t mean outer space, I mean the kind we occupy on the planet.

(Not to discount the space program, but honestly, if we’d spend the money on saving the planet, we wouldn’t need to develop an escape plan. I know our president is very supportive of the space program. NASA could at least show their appreciation by making us the first country to launch a president into space. I wonder if NASA checks into the blogosphere once in a while. Are you paying attention, NASA? Could you hurry? You want to see a dramatic surge in public support for the space program, this would do it. Most of the known world would chip in.)

But no, today I’m talking about the vast amount of space occupied on the earth by the CAR, whether stopped or in motion, from its birthplace at the factory to its final resting place at the landfill. I could at this point divert into a variety of tirades about the effects of the car on urban planning in modern civilization, but I only have fifteen minutes left to post something.

To be specific, I’m talking about the ordeal of finding a parking space. Which is what Lindi and I were trying to do last night. I know what you’re thinking – what in the world were we doing in a CAR anyway? You know there had to be a good reason – namely, we needed to schlep three or four wine-sized boxes of stuff. Not impossible by bike, but requiring a cargo trailer the like of which I don’t yet own – though as you can tell I’m definitely moving in that direction, of becoming a totally hard-core, no excuses bike user. So back to last night: we decided to reward ourselves (I’m very big on the reward system) after the loathsome task of packing up and moving these boxes of stuff, by going out to dinner on our way home with said boxes. After consuming extra gas by circling around the block in search of a spot, we lucked upon one in the process of being liberated by another smog-belching vehicle about to depart the area. After several minutes of the prerequisite parallel parking pain, we managed to squeeze ourselves into it when just at that moment we saw the most amazing thing.

All we could make out in the second it flew by us was that it was some kind of human-powered vehicle with a horse’s head.

[uh-oh. Must interrupt momentarily. Will return soon with conclusion of story]

I'm so sorry, I'm not going to be able to post the rest of the story today, even though I'm only a paragraph and a photo away from the ending. Today is absolutely booked solid, a scheduling situation I steadfastly avoid but occasionally cave in to. Unless I can squeeze it in before dinner, further blogging today is out. But do check back, because in the end I actually manage to get a photo of the eccentric steed -- but at what cost!

Friday, 8:19 AM -- continuation & conclusion

But that fleeting glimpse was enough to hurl me into a tizzy of curiosity, compelling me to beg Lindi in the most urgent tones that we peel out of our perfect spot and speed down Broadway in pursuit of this merest apparition. With only a slight roll of the eyeballs, she sportingly agreed to star in the bike chase scene for my impromptu grade z movie. Thanks to her latent racing skills, we finally caught up with the beast, a feat of daring and courage requiring precise timing and alacrity on the accelerator, as the creature had by this time gained six traffic lights on us.

Here is a photo taken from the passenger seat of our car while the subject protested, demanding money. I offered him fame instead and he agreed, begrudgingly.

Unfortunately, I failed to communicate to him the relevance of the information displayed on the blog business card I extended to him at arm’s length through my window (as annoyed drivers slowed behind us), and declined to accept it. He may never realize the extent of his own notoriety. If you know this man, or see him riding around town on his mobile three-wheeled recliner with fuzzy pink horse’s head, you might give him my blog address.
And by the way, think not that I am unperturbed by the troubling paradox that countless oodles of precious fuel were consumed in the endeavor to capture an image of this non-fuel-producing vehicle to post in my anti-fuel-consuming blog,

I now realize that this posting is not, after all, about finding a parking space, but about the ultimate expression of love, namely the supremely selfless act of Giving Up a Parking Place in support of another – specifically, in support of the hare-brained, nut-case whim of another. If you have someone who would do that for you, hang on and never let go.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Making Life Go Slower

Ever get to the end of a summer and wonder how it managed to whiz by before you had a chance to enjoy it? It’s happened to me too. But it’s not happening now. Nor did it happen last summer. Why? You know the answer. I immerse myself in the summer every day. From a bike, the summer seems long and full. When it ends, I don’t feel like I’ve missed anything. Instead the next season in the air becomes the new exciting development. Fall is my most thrilling season and I won’t be sorry when it comes. Winter? Not as fun – I ain’t gonna lie. Still, even in winter, I feel I am experiencing life more completely and fully when I’m out there in the weather, whatever it is.

My mother just called to tell me to go out and fill my tank with gas because the closing down of the oil field in Prudhoe Bay is going to shoot gas prices up past $4 a gallon. I told her I’d gladly take her advice but my tank’s still full from when I filled it three weeks ago.

I feel like such an ant when I read all the depressing bad news about how humans are wrecking the world. And we are all wrecking it, even those of us who don’t want to, because of the systems that have been set up. Riding my bike is this one miniscule way I can say “NO, I’m not participating in that.” It’s so, so small, but I’m the only person I have any control over. Even if my own actions are too small to make a dent, at least I can feel that I’m not contributing to all the madness, all the time.

Yesterday I took an alternate route and ran into an overhanging tree. My helmet visor saved my eyes, so all I got was the pungent smell of the flowers that covered the tree. It was so delicious that I turned around and rode through it again, and then a few more times, until I became aware that a man sitting on his front steps was peering at me. I dislike being peered at, so I left, but not before taking a couple of snaps for you.

[Well, here's one, anyway. Blogger's decided not to let me post the other one right now for some reason. Maybe later.]

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Sixth Horse Appears, Armed with Poem

I spoke too soon. The very day, yesterday, that I post about the long-missing Ninth & Couch horse, a sixth horse is installed in that spot – this time tagged with a laminated orange note bearing a poem of discouragement to the would-be thief. Those of a more cynical nature might not expect the thief to be swayed by a poem, let alone stop to read it. I for one think warnings or threats are in order – in large, nasty, magic-marker letters. The way the tag is lying there shows that one side of it is largely blank -- so there’s room. I’m tempted…. except my policy is not to participate, only observe and record.

Here’s my first blog contest: What three to five words would work best to dissuade interference from the horse vandals? Write in your ideas (and please, spare us the standard hackneyed obscenities) and I will make sure they are seen by the horse project people. The winner will …. be honored in some way. … which will be announced later.

Monday, August 07, 2006

My Friend Flicca

The horse I was documenting since last winter has not been replaced since the fifth installment was usurped from its spot next to the fire hydrant on Ninth and Couch. [See horse posting July 2nd.] That last one was only there for an afternoon before the horse-napper struck, and since then, no there's been no horse in sight at this intersection. For now, it looks like the party poop who kept taking them has gotten his way.

I'm not sure how the horse project is coming along these days, but I know of at least one horse that's still in its assigned spot -- in front of Gold’s Gym on NW Overton. The same one has remained there unbothered for months.

Friday, August 04, 2006

Clever Bikes Overtake Foolish Cars

Yesterday as I was riding to work – much later than I’d planned, thanks to you guys out there and my pathological compulsion to write this blog – I came to the Broadway Bridge and it was UP. (This only happens when you're running behind to begin with.) By the car stack-up that had already accumulated, I could tell it had already been up for a while. The other clue was that whatever tall floating vessel it had been raised for was long gone. I rode up to the clump of other cyclists waiting at the front of the line on the separated sidewalk/ bike path part of the bridge. The bridge lowered and the barriers started to open but then closed again. A voice on the loud speaker said something about “.. a problem with the bridge.”

I wasted no time flipping my bike around, and as I wended my way back among all the totally stuck-there cars, I couldn’t help thinking: “Ha. Ha. Ha.”

I shouted out to another cyclist headed toward the bridge “The bridge is stuck!” He said, “Again?!” and turned to follow me. I looked back and saw the other cyclists coming too. We were all headed over to the Steel Bridge a few blocks away. We lost no time. Who knows how long those cars were all trapped there, with absolutely no way to turn around.

I took this picture of the Broadway Bridge from the Steel Bridge. It looks kind of goofy -- I can't figure out what's wrong with it. Is that the way it normally looks? I’ll go back and check later when it's working properly. (That white thing behind it is the Fremont Bridge, which is much further away.)

Slight delay in delivery of information

Darn. I keep meaning to scrunch down on the ground, squint up my eyes, and get my hands all dirty to get that tire information for y’all, but I can’t seem to remember to do this while I’m actually out there. I will, though.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Sleeping Beauty and the Seven Body Parts

A major part of my body which shall remain nameless but which has served me faithfully all my life is failing me -- evidently worn out from overuse. It has been falling asleep -- along with several other parts of me such as arms, legs, and hands. What is going on? I don’t know whether to blame my bike riding, my excessive computer usage, or that old standard: one's mother.

I have procured the following SEAT as a first plan of attack.
[The photo will be inserted later this evening. Blogger's photo department isn't up yet.]

After a trial period of three days, I'm not at all sure it's doing the trick. If this doesn’t work I might have to drag out my roller skates and thereby change the whole posture of my transportation. That’s ok – it would still be pollutionless, noiseless, and human powered. As for the computer ergonomics, I could always fall back on one of my typewriters – I have a collection of them. I’d jump at the first excuse to break out my 1925 mint-condition Remington. Don’t get me started, or I might feel compelled to open a blog about typewriters. (Whew! I’m getting majorly excited at the very thought of them. Got to calm myself down…)

Check back later for the promised tire information.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Let’s Talk Tires

At dinner last night with our friends Ron & Miriam our conversation eventually drifted around to: Ron’s recent flat tires. He’s had two of them in just the last year. He blamed the gravel alley they live on. I said Nope, that’s not it. The problem is: crummy tires.

Observe my treads.

This is the very same tire I’ve had on this bike since I bought it -- not last summer, but summer before last. I’ll try to nab you a picture of the back one too, and stick it here later; and as long as I’m standing on my head I’ll try to decipher the brand names, which no doubt you’ll be dying to know after reading me rave on about the fabulosity of my tires.

I’ve had the best luck imaginable with tires and I ride over patches of broken glass pieces almost every single day. I plow right through them because I never see the glass till I’m right on top of it or in it. Too busy looking out for cars. I don’t think any of the crushed auto glass will puncture a tire, but I run over a lot of broken bottle glass and nothing ever happens. Sometimes I’m thinking, “Oh no, that was a bad one,” and I expect my tire to come slicing right off the wheel -- but nothing.

Back in March I posted about having to change my back tire, but that was because its outer walls were suddenly bulging out the sides – to the point where my brake shoes were rubbing the lumped area as it went around. That’s how a tire eventually wears out if you never puncture it, because the side walls are the weakest part. The back tire always wears out before the front one because it takes most of the weight. Even though I thought the bulging was amusingly freakish looking, I had the tire replaced because the guy at the bike shop said it was going to blow any minute. I imagined my bike lifting into the air with a great big POW as I was riding along, and even though I thought that could be terribly fun, my outer adult won the argument.

Life is just one big NO after another.

Another plus for biking: Hairstyle of the Gods

Saving electricity and reducing noise pollution
Today’s post was written in the dead of night during a brief attack of insomnia. Now I’m getting a late start, thanks a lot. The text is all ready to go except that I can’t find the photo that goes with it. I’m so MAD. I’m mad as heck.

I have to leave now. I can’t take all day on this. Know that as you read this I’m careening through residential streets with a wet mop on my head. Why? Because I object to hair dryers, and this is the only way I can dry my hair in a hurry. I’ll stick to the small side streets and leave my helmet off till I hit Broadway. By that time my hair'll be dry as a bone and sticking straight out the way I like it. There's people that fork out big bucks for this look, but not me.

It isn’t dignified to lurch out of the house looking like you just this minute leapt from the shower. But no one will know. Tomorrow I'll be back on my usually zen morning routine.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Jack the Ripped

Last night as I was leaving my secret hideout I stopped to talk to Jack, who lives upstairs from it. He was just gliding in from a bike ride and still had his costume on. Until that moment, I hadn’t even realized he was a bicyclist.

As I was talking to him about his fantastic ride out on Germantown Road, I noticed his face was a bloody mess. I asked him, “Are you aware that your face has been ripped to shreds?”
“Oh,” he answered. “Musta been that deer.”
“Your face was ripped to shreds by a deer?”
“A deer leapt into the road in front of me, and I had to brake suddenly to avoid it, and I went flying over the top.” He further explained that since he was drinking from his water bottle at that moment, he only had one hand free to brake with – his left one, which controls the front brake. The back wheel kept on going, and the bike tried to do a somersault. “These disc brakes will stop on a dime.”

“Disc brakes? On a bike? You’re kidding!!” But it was true, and here’s a photo to prove it. Obviously I’m way behind on my bike technology. As I looked over his bike I began for the first time to seriously think about someday buying a new bike to use for road trips as an alternative to the Sherman tank I ride around town.

I warned him he might want to call 911 once he went inside and looked in the mirror.
Then he leaned over to write something on the map he was giving me and I saw that his shoulder had lost its textile membrane – i.e., giant hole scraped through shirt.

My. We’re so different as human beans, aren’t we? I will not paint the picture of the state I’d be in had I undergone such an ordeal.

The deer survived without injury.

Their Majesty consents to One Photo

Blogger has now allowed me to include one photo (1) in my posting about the ghost bikes.

Oh thank you, your most Royal Heinie, here, let me fall down before you in gratitude for your most infinite kindness. I had several more to put in with that story, as well as some excellent ones to accompany today's posting, but only if your most exalted essence would deem it to be appropriate for my insignificant and lowly self to be honored with such grandiose favors.