Midnight ramblings, 08/26/11

Friday nights have got to be my favorite time of the week. The work week is done; big plans for the weekend are in full swing; maybe it’s a date night; generally, everybody feels good on a Friday night.

Tonight, we came home to a beautiful backyard! Mr. Long (our gardener) had put in No-Mow sod, an irrigation system with bubblers and drip lines, planted two blueberry bushes (yay!) and a persimmon tree (yay!) and transplanted one of our dwarf citrus lime bushes (yay!) Oh, and the rescue bougainvillea. I have several waist-high planter boxes ready to go, complete with topsoil. Now I just have to figure out what to grow. I have decided that this is the year for edibles. As much as I like flowers and other pretty things, I am really after growing as much food stuff as we can sustainably maintain. Back to mother earth, so to speak.

One of my favorite seed companies is Kitawaza Seed Company. They carry hundreds of heirloom Asian vegetable varieties. I sent them an email tonight suggesting that they put some advice/tips on their website so that we know what to grow and when. Living in a micro-climate such as Oakland poses some challenges. Our true “summer” doesn’t really occur until late September/early October. But that’s fall season elsewhere. I would love some year-long greens, though. Collards, kale, swiss chard, broccoli – these are vegetables we eat everyday. Maybe I’ll hear back from them.

Michelle is fast asleep in the other room, even though she claimed that she’s only closing her eyes but “watching” TV. Little G! is sprawled out on Mama M. At least Madeleine is hanging out with me; although (secretly) I think she needs to go outside to pee. After this post.

Today has been a good day. It was Amy’s birthday — she’s somewhere back east celebrating it with her family. Mercury went direct today at 3:03 p.m. PDT, for those observing. I am so relieved. It has been a strange month. However, I got just about everything done at work today, except for reviewing Iris’s OMC. And I had a terrific bike ride home.

So, the thing about bike rides is that you notice every little thing. And you think about every little thing when you’re on your bike. On some days I think about saving the planet. The debt ceiling, the stupid wars, humankind’s cruelty and greed. These are usually fleeting thoughts, however, because I realize that humankind has been trying to figure all this stuff out for a few millenia without much success.

And then my thoughts usually turn to the more mundane.

For example, I notice things like the change in the slope of roadway. The distance from home to work (and vice versa) is about 2.58 miles. There is a very slight decline from home to work, but the incline on the reverse route to home is quite noticeable. My personal best record traveling TO work is 21.7 mph, or about 11.20 minutes. The reverse route? With the wind behind me and my tires pumped full: 17.2 mph. But on an average day after a long day at work, it’s about 11.3 mph. I told Michelle once that I would never have the patience that it takes to be in a triathlon. I like a lot of speed on my bicycle.

Martin Luther King Jr. Way in Oakland is an interesting stretch of roadway. It is one of the longest stretch with the least amount of traffic signals — the main reason I chose this route. MLK runs through some of the most destitute parts of Oakland; drugs and prostitution are rampant here. But so are grandmothers out sweeping their front porches in the early hours of the morning. The graffiti art on this stretch is incredible. But, NOBODY tags on anybody else’s work. This is one neighborhood trying to reinvent and redefine itself. The City is installing a neighborhood park at the 25th Street intersection. Every morning, the locals gather around the soon-to-be park, keeping eye on the progress the City is making.

The one thing that always baffles me on such thought-provoking sojourns is the garbage I see on the street. I totally get the food stuff — empty chip bags, chicken bones, MickeyD’s bags, fast food containers. I get the 7-11 crap — condoms, diapers, lip gloss. I definitely get the roadkill — there were two rats and one bird this week — kind of a morbid fascination, but they keep getting flatter everytime I rode by them this week. I even get the hair fragments:

“Woman, hold my baby!”
“Oh hell no, I ain’t holding your baby!”
“Fine! Then hold my weave!”
“OK, sure sugah”  *toss*

But shoes?!? That’s the one thing I can’t figure out. This week it was a perfectly good pair of Uggs. Why do people throw shoes out of their car? Did they realize that their shoes were no longer fashionable? Did their feet suddenly get too hot? Or maybe it’s something more along the romantic line? “Baby, I love you, but those shoes have got to go!”

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People in parked cars

I’ve never noticed how many people sit in parked cars until I started riding my bike to work and back. A few are on their cell phones, a few of them are smoking. I’ve seen one guy eating a burger. But for the most part, they’re just sitting there. What are they doing?

In some shadier parts of town, I figured maybe they’re waiting for a deal of some sort to go down. I think this, because as I am riding up from behind, they’re watching me from the side mirror. With their sunglasses on. And they quickly lose interest as I pass by. That would explain the afternoon crowd, but what about early in the morning? Why are people sitting in their car at 8:00 in the morning?

None of this, of course, would have been anything to think about except that now, as a bicycle rider, I am constantly on the lookout for people in parked cars. You just never know what they’re going to do next. I’ve had a couple of near-hits of people opening their car doors suddenly because they didn’t bother to look in the side mirrors. The SF Bay Area Bicycling 511 organization (http://bicycling.511.org/) recommends riding about 4-feet out from the parking lane.

This part I didn’t know:  a bicyclist has the same rights to the road as a car. When in doubt, a bicyclist can assume ownership of a lane as long as s/he observes the same traffic rules. Now all we have to do is pass the message along to car drivers…..