Saturday, July 26, 2008

In Which I Go for a Bit of a Ride

I had a little biking adventure tonight.

My sister-in-law (who lives across the street) and I decided to go for a little ride on the Alum Creek Bike Path. I tried to find a link to it, and learned I was near the Three Creeks path, but, apparently rode so little of it, that showing the map is sort of pointless.

SIL was bringing her two dogs along (a coon hound and a labrador). She has a contraption that enables her to hook their leashes to her bike. But we started off less than auspiciously as, one house down from hers, the dogs spotted another dog being taken for a walk. They ran towards Walking Dog, pulling themselves free of the bike. The contraption, thankfully, released them as it was designed to do or SIL would have been pulled right over.  The dogs, thankfully, aimed for opposite sides of a tree, thereby limiting their ability to maul/lick Walking Dog. But it was startling. 

So SIL cobbles her contraption back together and off we go. This bike is the one she flew off of in Michigan last summer (riding with just the coon hound, she hit a pothole in our lane). While her physical therapy is now just about over, the bike never fully recovered, she tells me. 

We ride along for about 20 minutes at a gentle, leisurely pace, as Daisy the Lab has relatively short legs.  Soon the lab is panting, and it's obvious that, in order for Daisy to make it home, SIL has to turn back now.

It's 8:15 p.m. I tell SIL that I intend to go for another 15 minutes before turning towards home. 

"If I'm not back by 9:00," I say, "send out the search party. 

We part. I continue along the bike path, which is lovely. I coast down a long, slow hill, thinking "I'm gonna have to ride UP this long, slow hill, so maybe it's time to turn around." 

But at the bottom of the hill is a sign explaining that this part of the path is one-way, heading down. I can't really turn around here.

So I go left, following a sign for the "Oxbow Loop," thinking this will certainly make a circle. And it does. But, somehow, I miss my exit. 

Next thing I know the path has ended on Alum Creek Drive, but not a part of Alum Creek Drive I have ever seen. I head to the right . . . but after a few hundred meters it looks wrong. So I turn around . . . but after a few hundred meters x 2 it looks REALLY wrong. I am on a road, with plenty of cars and no front light at dusk. I do have a red, flashing thing on the back of my bike, but this is small comfort when I think about being just thrown off the road by a car. Fear is a powerful motivator, and I really moved in order to get the hell off the road.

So with no other options, I head back to the bike path, and, lo and behold, the turn I apparently missed in obvious now. The ride back is, from this point on, delightful. I saw a two deer (one, a young buck with a decent sized rack), lots and lots of rabbits, and all sorts of birds. 

Got home at 9:05 p.m., with no idea how far I had ridden.

I stop by SIL's house to let her know I'm not dead. Her bike has died, she tells me. Not five minutes after we parted, the dog-walking contraption swings loose and eventually punctures her tire. The frame, still bent and damaged from the crash last summer, begins to disintegrate beneath her. She drags the bike off the path, and leaves it in the bushes, so that I will not see its corpse and panic about her safety (wise move). 

We're going to go again tomorrow morning at 7:30, this time without dogs and with her other bike.

Update on LR (my dad): He had surgery yesterday and came home this afternoon. He's a bit cranky because he is left on his own to cope with, among other things, a catheter. I understand that a hospital is a germy place, and one inevitably heals better at home. But, on the other hand, a hospital is full of people who are trained to deal with things like catheters, and where one can find equipment like, oh, hospital beds, for example. Things designed to help one who is burdened with something limiting like, oh, a catheter. At least it is due to come out on Monday. But in the meantime, LR is loathe to ask for help, but rather overwhelmed with the burden of the responsibility.

American healthcare sucks. No two ways about it.

Monday, July 21, 2008

In Which I'm Never Going Back to My Old School

I'm writing this from my summer "dacha" in what I call my "ancestral village." That would be a suburb of Columbus, Ohio. Across the street from my little brother and around the corner from my mom's house (the house where I grew up, more or less). 

Through a series of events, some good and some not so good, my dad (we call him "LR") is living in this house. The good part, for me, is that I have a live-in property manager and bartender. The bad news, for him, is that he's trying to sell his condo in this very difficult seller's market. 

The girls and I arrived at the beginning of July, just in time for my 30th high school reunion. That event was overflowing with potential blog material. But since many of the characters providing the material are still alive and might, possibly, read the blog, I don't feel comfortable letting fly as I normally do. Some sort of self-censoring device has kicked in. 

But some highlights I think I can share:

1. I ran into Original High School Crush in the local drug store the day before the reunion. Actually, he might have even been Junior High School Crush . . . it's all sort of murky now, my memory. But, oh, he was so cute in the early 1970s, in a sort of David Cassidy way. I had seen pictures of him on his website, so I recognized him when he walked past me at the end of the aisle where they sell the anti-wrinkle creams (I had been in this aisle, not him). I did a double take. Then he did a double take. I said his name. He looked suspicious until I said my name. And we stood there and chatted for what was actually much too long. I mean, the siren call of the Anti-Wrinkle Cream Aisle was actually stronger than the urge to stand near O or JHSC. Call me cruel, but it was actually so reassuring. I tried to explain this to Eldest Daughter: how, the next eight to ten years will be filled with what will surely feel like life-ending heartbreak. But that 30 years later, when you run into the object of your teenage affection, he will be just a nice, if slightly spacey guy with a satisfying and meaningful career as a musician, and you'll wish him and his wife all the best in the world. And mean it sincerely. It was very liberating, but weird to think how what seemed so important at the time, faded to virtually nothing in retrospect.

2. At the actual reunion, I was struck by how good we all looked as a group. However, a few weeks later when I looked at the photos fellow classmates posted of the event, all I could think was "Who are all these old people?"

3. That said, many classmates have not changed at all. Including a guy who I'll call BG. I honestly cannot, for the life of me, figure out how I ended up necking with BG in high school, but I think it may have even happened on more than one occasion. He did have lots of great curly, dark hair then. It's much shorter now, but he still has hair, for what that's worth. What he never had was what I would call a great intellect. Good-natured persistence? You bet. A Phi Beta Kappa key? Um . . . don't think so. So, imagine my reaction when, fall quarter freshman year, I walked out of Ellis Hall on the Ohio University campus and found him sitting on a bench in front of the building. I don't think he knew I was even going to OU. I certainly didn't know he was. And while he seemed thrilled to see me, in a "Hey, bay-bee!" sort of way, my heart sank. I was sure he flunked out shortly after, as I never saw him again, although I lived in Athens for eight more years. At the reunion, he was the same as I remembered him in 1978: he leered at me and said something about "hooking up later" if I wanted. He had been a fabulous tennis player in high school, I suddenly remembered. "I'll give you tennis lessons this summer," he purred. "Private lessons . . . " Yeah, yeah. I took his card, and asked how long he had lasted in Athens. Oddly, he told me that he was there for FIVE years. Huh. Go figure.

4. A couple of Nice Jewish Boys from my class literally bounced over to me and announced "We're gay, you know!" I hadn't thought about it in 1978, but it sure made sense looking back. My gay-dar wasn't so finely tuned then. One of them confessed to having had a crush on me in high school. Awwww. I had no idea. And one of them, I am fairly sure, was responsible for spilling lye on my leg in Chemistry class. It didn't hurt or cause any damage: I just couldn't figure out why this liquid wasn't evaporating, so I ended up standing in a bucket of water and baking soda. But no harm done, and no ill will. At least I told the NJB it was him. It might have been a different, third NJB. Who, now that I think about it, might have also been gay.

The day after the reunion, the girls and I got in the car and drove to Detroit where we met The Spouse. We spent the next week in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan with my brothers' families (in the same house we rented last year), and the following week visiting his family. While any extended visits with family (and by "extended," I mean any visits lasting more than three days) hold the potential for disaster, neither week provided me with anything snarky to write about. Really.

So now, alas, The Spouse is back in Moscow. While I'm very happy to be here, it does feel odd to have him be so far away and for so long. I don't want the summer to go by quickly. But yet I do.