darkemeralds: Naked woman on a bike, caption "I don't care, I'm still free" (Bike Freedom)
It's been five years since I got the sudden wild idea to buy a bike. Since then I've lost 65 pounds, sold my car, reduced my transportation expenses to $75 a month, let my driver's license lapse, and, in a not-entirely-unrelated development, retired1.

Five Years By Bike, in lists )
darkemeralds: Dark Emeralds in red glasses (Default)
I was just standing here eating broccoli when it occurred to me how odd both of those things are. I switched to a standing workstation a couple of months ago, and somewhere in the last year or two I've finally managed to make vegetables a part of my everyday life. I believe, but can't prove, that each of these changes has been good for my health.

So I got to wondering what else I've changed in the last few years.

Turns out, quite a lot. )

29/30: RUI

Jun. 29th, 2013 07:44 pm
darkemeralds: Naked woman on a bike, caption "I don't care, I'm still free" (Bike Freedom)
Here's something you don't see every day: a drunk post from [personal profile] darkemeralds.

Okay, not, like, super drunk. After the stupidly annoying Saturday I had to spend at work today (two hours that turned into seven), I rode home in the 90 degrees (dear Phoenix and Las Vegas: I'm not complaining! Really!), then had to put every garment I had on into the laundry basket, take a cold shower, and re-do myself in order to go meet my sis for dinner.

I ordered a drink when I got there. "Gin 'n' Juice" was the homey name of the delectable cocktail that tasted of lime, grapefruit, rosemary and...um...something else yummy. Then I ordered another one.

I'm a cheap date. Two drinks and I'm ridiculous. My sister, a long-recovering alcoholic with a keen eye for "problems" was probably beginning to have doubts about my being the immune family member.

But you know what? It was fun. I talked more readily about more things than I usually do, and it probably doesn't hurt me to over-share a bit with my own sister. Right?

I slowly pedaled the ten or so blocks home on traffic-free back streets. Which, okay, Riding Under the Influence. Inadvisable but not the end of the world. And I did combine the gin with positively prodigious amounts of delicious dinner.

Note to self: balance, locomotion and control are pretty much autonomic: the problem is judgment at intersections.

Home without incident. Now for an evening of dumb TV and knitting. And hydration.
darkemeralds: Naked woman on a bike, caption "I don't care, I'm still free" (Bike Freedom)
It's Fiscal New Year's Eve here in the World's Tallest Basement--one of several key Last Times in my career.

Fiscal year-end is, as usual, a complete cluster-fuck. Frantic people trying frantically to finish financial transactions before the money goes away in this most frantic of bad fiscal years have made it Frantic City around here all day. Makes me feel so important!

Tomorrow morning--yes, Saturday--I have to be back here, nine o'clock sharp, to help guide the ceremonial closing of the books. If all goes well, we can get out by noon, whereupon I shall be free to sally forth in the too-hot sunshine and maybe go check out a couple of Pedalpalooza events. I'm considering Let's Go Bike To Queers (an LGBTQ celebration of Pride and the defeat of DOMA), at least to ride by and ding my bell (not a euphemism) in solidarity on my way to The Tiny House Tour.
darkemeralds: Naked woman on a bike, caption "I don't care, I'm still free" (Bike Freedom)
This picture of an attractive Dane on a bike was posted on BikePortland the other day.

I have since decided that I will signal no other way than the cool way that Mr Copenhagen there signals. (How else could you signal, you wonder? Well, I'm typically more emphatic and full-armed about it because Portland, though bike-aware, does not have Copenhagen-levels of bike-awareness. But screw that. I'm going to be cool Danish-signaling gal from here on.)

The extraordinary editor of BikePortland, Jonathan Maus, is currently posting dispatches from the two great world bike capitals, Copenhagen and Amsterdam. He has mentioned the amazing bike-riding skills of the citizens, and since we're not talking Tour de France racing, I'm assuming he means stuff like riding steadily in slow and crowded conditions, navigating safely around pedestrians, riding handlebar-to-handlebar with your friends while conducting a conversation, gauging traffic, or riding with two kids, a cigarette, a cellphone and no helmet.

No, I'm not being facetious about that last item. Americans think of cycling as a competitive sport requiring speed, power and endurance. (My daily commute is often made uncomfortable and even dangerous by cyclists of that sort.) We don't seem to place much emphasis on casual ease. And let's face it, casual ease requires skill.

I shall henceforth be all about the casual ease. (I'll probably keep the helmet, though.)

Crossposted to [community profile] bicycles
darkemeralds: Naked woman on a bike, caption "I don't care, I'm still free" (Bike Freedom)
Some days, I look up from my high-productivity dual-monitor computer around 5:30 and think, "How the hell am I going to get the courage to get on my bike one more time and hit the streets of downtown Portland in rush hour?" So far I always have, so I think, "You know, I'm pretty brave!"

And then I go and read about the Afghan Women's Cycling Team, and withdraw my own courage credentials.

The kickass ladies of Kabul )

Tomorrow evening, when I'm pedaling in the polite (and incidentally mostly-flat, nearly-sea-level, and entirely paved) streets of Portland, where my most troubling hazard is the occasional out-of-state driver who doesn't understand about sharing the road, I'm gonna be counting my blessings instead of congratulating myself on my courage.

Note: There is, of course, a documentary being made. Good blog with some great photos I didn't want to borrow or hotlink here.

Crossposted to [community profile] bicycles
darkemeralds: Naked woman on a bike, caption "I don't care, I'm still free" (Bike Freedom)
It's now three years since I started riding a bike. At first, every day brought new developments: I got a little faster, a little stronger, a little steadier. I expanded my remit to include almost all my transportation.

But there's only so much transportation a gal needs, and I had no interest in adding hours or miles just for exercise. Boring! So the curve leveled off and improvements stopped coming.

Then a few weeks ago I bought Adam Lambert's Trespassing after hearing "Better Than I Know Myself", and I liked it so much that I started listening to it on my way to work. (I have a lot to say about Adam Lambert's music, but for now let it suffice that it's waking-up music for me, and represents everything that's newly fun and interesting in my life after a long, long climb out of a music-less depression.)

And then I just started pedaling to the beat.

Now, Adam Lambert's music has a lot of "Okay, go!" moments in it, where it backs off, cranks up, and then bombs forward with a driving beat. It's inherently engaging and exciting. And when I'm stopped at a red light and it turns green right when one of those moments comes along, I'm all, "Okay, go!" and, being kind of a perfectionist, I want to hit that downbeat, and to hit that downbeat I have to pedal harder, and to keep the beat I have to gear up, and pretty soon I'm really putting my ass into it and...

...holy moley, it's an improvement. Once again, faster, stronger, and a ton of previously-unexploited cardio, plus BUTT MUSCLES.

So, Adam, bless you and your stunning voice. You made me wanna listen to music again. And pedal my ass off.
darkemeralds: Screenshot of Zoe from Firefly, caption "So You've Never Pretended to Fall?" from an unfilmed Firefly script (Zoe)
Last night a goodish storm of the south-wind-and-drenching-rain variety knocked most of the leaves off most of the trees around here.

It didn't dampen the Occupy spirit, however, and though the Occupiers have been evicted from the backyard of the World's Tallest Basement (aka my place of employment), they've continued to march and chant every day in the downtown streets. The police so far have presented a vigilant and sort of rigidly non-violent presence alongside the marchers.

In a peculiarly Portland moment, I was riding westward across the bike-and-pedestrian-only lower deck of the Steel Bridge this morning while a very vocal Occupy protest more or less blocked the upper car deck. A guy had stationed himself about mid-span on the lower deck and was bangin' with drumsticks on the bridge railing and a couple of pots. He was keeping time with the rhythmic chanting of the protesters above. Cyclists, including me, were ringing their bike bells in time to the percussion as they sailed past. It had a kind of gleeful, sonic solidarity to it.

It's been colorful. Here are some images. )
darkemeralds: Photo of Downtown Portland, Oregon USA in twilight (Portland)
Friends, theater, bike rides, sunshine, moonlight, food, shopping, Janis Joplin, and Madonna Vs Gaga: It's been a fantastic day!

After Zumba, I rode up to my sister's house, where her best friend, visiting for the weekend from Seattle, was out on the porch. "Oh. My. God!" the BFF practically shouted. "You look fabulous!" (She went on in this vein long enough to convince me that I really, really do look much different than when she last saw me, more than a year ago--which was gratifying and discomfiting in equal measure.)

My sis, her boyfriend, her friend and I all got on bikes and rode in the lovely cool sunshine the four miles to Portland Center Stage to see "Janis," a new play about Janis Joplin. It was an interesting and uneasy melding of rock concert and theater, in need of some serious rewriting before going to the big time, but rousing and musically satisfying enough that we all left the theater in a state of enthusiasm, which only began to dissipate as we sat over dinner an hour later and began to dissect it.

The city center had a carnival air, since the tired and dreary old Rose Festival reached its parade-y climax today and a whole lotta people were in the streets who don't really get how to be in the streets. (One is...persnickety about these things.) It was lively, though, and people on foot in the streets are a good thing, even neophyte pedestrians.

A bit later we took the good friend shopping--also by bike, since she was game to keep going--and wound up having another dinner, outdoors on the sidewalk at Pambiche: Cuban delicacies until the sun went down and the moon was bright.

On the way home we encountered a massive phalanx of bicycles on NE 18th--lit up in the dark, pinging their bells, playing music, and blocking the entire street. It's Pedalpalooza! And this was the Gaga Vs Madonna Mobile Dance Party. Participants, dressed as their favorite diva, were just voting as we squeezed past them. Madonna won, and they rode off to wherever they were taking their feathers and wigs and pointy bras and music.

I think the friend from Seattle was utterly charmed by the whole thing. What can I say, friend from Seattle? Portland is pretty awesome.


Jun. 6th, 2011 01:14 pm
darkemeralds: Naked woman on a bike, caption "I don't care, I'm still free" (Bike Freedom)
A bus driver, with whose bus I had been playing "Notice me" for about ten blocks on the way in to work this morning, pulled up next to me at a red light, slid open his window, and said, "I just wanted to thank you for riding so safely. I wish everyone on bikes would ride the way you do--it makes my job easier. You signal, you keep up a good pace..."

"I try," I said, astonished. (I'd been expecting an admonition--it happens at that particular intersection sometimes) We chatted for a couple of seconds till the light changed, and I rode on, a little bemused and trying to figure out what I'd done to win his approbation.

True, I signal--especially lane changes. True, I keep up a fairly good pace (this is not something I was able to do at first, but I've gotten faster as I've become stronger and lighter). I'm keenly aware of my surroundings in that area, specifically because there are buses and I'm obliged to take the lane with them. I was wearing a white sweater, so I was pretty visible.

But really? I think it was the hair.
darkemeralds: Naked woman on a bike, caption "I don't care, I'm still free" (Bike Freedom)
I went to medical school over the weekend and have diagnosed myself with piriformis syndrome.

The piriformis is a butt muscle, involved in rotating the hip. When it gets balled up and inflamed, it presses on the sciatic nerve, and when the sciatic nerve gets pressed on, your ass hurts. A lot. And your thigh, and maybe your knee and calf too.

The syndrome has been building for a few weeks, and became acute last Sunday as I was shuffling through a crowded IKEA and couldn't readily get off my feet. The pain was...significant.

The treatment I've prescribed for myself is a series of fun little stretches, some of which involve sitting on a tennis ball. I'll probably get acupuncture this week, and I expect I'll wind up at massage therapy too. Maybe some BodyTalk if I can afford it.

The cause of piriformis syndrome in my case is almost certainly bike-riding. And stress. I think I'll try giving up stress first.
darkemeralds: Heart-shaped raindrop on the lens, captioned with "Raining in my heart" (Rain)
Portland has 222 non-sunny days per year. So far in 2011, I think we've already had a hundred of 'em. And not just non-sunny: rainy. And cold. I don't suffer particularly from seasonal affective disorder, but I'm having trouble keeping my spirits up as spring refuses to come.

Come again some other day. I want to go out and play. )
darkemeralds: Crows high in the branches of a bare tree, caption COUNTING (Counting Crows)
Three strange things happened on my way to work this morning.

I saw a dead crow in the middle of the road.

The sun came out.

I passed a mezzo-soprano practicing in Waterfront Park.

I was so struck by the strange magic of the other two things that I stopped, turned around, and went back to ask her what she was singing. She, it turns out, was a young man with sweet, wild features, his blue nylon windbreaker hood pulled up around his face. He finished his song as I listened.

"What are you singing?"

"Amarilli mia bella," he said, "by Giulio Caccini. He wrote it not very long after Columbus came to America."

We spoke for a few moments, he made sure I had the song title right ("It's standard," he said. "You can find it in Twenty-Four Italian Songs and Arias." "I had that book once!" I replied. "Well, find it again," said he); I thanked him for singing and he thanked me for riding my bike, and I went on to work.

I don't know how to weave these three things together yet.
darkemeralds: Naked woman on a bike, caption "I don't care, I'm still free" (Bike Freedom)
Eleanor O and the Flower Run )

Oh, and for The Eowyn Challenge, it's been slow going since I left Rivendell: nothing but crossing small streams in "empty country, rough and barren," and camping in hollows, for the last 80 miles. It's still a really long way to Moria. Thank goodness there are Trader Joe's No Name Salted Rice Cakes in my basket, huh?
darkemeralds: Naked woman on a bike, caption "I don't care, I'm still free" (Bike Freedom)
[personal profile] sporky_rat is doing this, and that's where I got the idea. Instead of just logging boring old daily cycling miles on my Livestrong account, I'm going to ride from Rivendell to Lorien.

It's the Eowyn Challenge, wherein, inspired by Eowyn*, some women decided to break out of the cages they experienced from weight, health, and fitness issues, and log walking miles as if they were walking to Rivendell.

Since I started logging my food and exercise, I've ridden 418 miles, which is almost all the way from Hobbiton to Rivendell, so I figured today I'd set out from Elrond's place with the Fellowship.

On my ride today, instead of just going to the grocery stores, I've climbed out of the valley onto the moors and, at the Ford of Brúinen, turned south on ‘narrow paths among folded lands’.

I am so going to rewatch FOTR tonight! \o/

* Aragorn: What do you fear my lady?
Éowyn: A cage. To stay behind bars until use and old age accept them and all chance of valor has gone beyond recall or desire.
Aragorn: You are a daughter of Kings! A Shieldmaiden of Rohan! I do not think that will be your fate.
darkemeralds: Naked woman on a bike, caption "I don't care, I'm still free" (Bike Freedom)
We finally got a bit of snow on the ground. I woke up in the early dark to see the neighborhood all blanketed in white, and for a few minutes I entertained the idea of riding my bike to work very early, to avoid traffic and have that first commute-in-the-snow experience that I've managed to avoid so far.

So about 8:00 I get a phone call. It's my sister. "Are you riding today? I'm out in front of your house. Are you still asleep?"

Oh, I was so asleep. I was sleeping the sleep of going back to sleep because it's snowing. I was sleeping the sleep of two duvets in a cold bedroom. I was sleeping the sleep of pure white light seeping in through the blinds. "Yes," I said.

By the time I woke up for the day half an hour later, the temperature had risen and the streets were clear. The worst I had to contend with was a snowy bike and a rather chilly ride.

Snow on bike

As usual in "bad" weather, I had the bike lanes and paths largely to myself.

My life is, on the whole, pretty awesome.

Seat Post

Feb. 5th, 2011 08:39 pm
darkemeralds: Naked woman on a bike, caption "I don't care, I'm still free" (Bike Freedom)
I was toodling along towards the grocery store on Eleanor O when I went over a little bump and kronk, the metal undercarriage of my Brooks saddle gave way at the point where it joins the seat post.

"Ha ha ha ha!" the universe seemed to cry. "You think you are so amazing for losing 35 lbs, but you have broken the seat of your bike, so draw your own conclusions."

Eleanor O was instantly rendered unrideable. I wheeled her to the bike parking, locked her up, did my shopping, and walked the two miles home lugging her baskets. A couple of hours later my sis and I went to get her with a car and a bike rack, and I'll ferry her over to Clever Cycles tomorrow for repair.

Two good things came out of this small misfortune. Well, three if you count the fact that it happened when I was going very slowly on a pedestrian path.

The first is that I discovered to my surprise that Eleanor O, as big a girl as she is, fits just fine on a bike rack on the back of a 1988 Honda Civic. Mind you, she weighs as much as three sporting bikes, so she should probably be the only bike on that rack at any given time, but still.

The second is that I haven't walked two miles in several months, and boy was it easier this time than last time. So, though I'm still evidently seat-bustingly large, I'm returning to walking-doesn't-kill-my-feet territory, and I'm happy about that.
darkemeralds: Naked woman on a bike, caption "I don't care, I'm still free" (Bike Freedom)
  • Wonderful: Scale shows a reduction for the third day in a row
  • Fabulous: For kicks I tried on a pair of Land's End straight leg jeans in size 18 tall, to measure how many more inches I would need to melt off to button them. None, apparently. I'm wearing them now.
  • Not bad: this damn cold has sloped off ten times faster than it sloped on and I'm feeling mostly human today
  • Very good: I came home last night to find that Leroy, the neighborhood handyman, had been by to complete a yard task that he began about a month ago, and while he was here he fixed the flat on Clyde's back tire! (Poor Clyde has been flat for a couple of months because I hate changing the rear tire). It was such an unexpected gift!

So next we're making a family excursion--sis and BF, mom--to Ikea for some kind of little shelf on which to display my Fibonacci plates. And it's not even 11:00 a.m. yet.

Excellent Saturdays FTW!

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