Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Not a Chance

I had the day off today, my last before we leave on our holiday - so I had lots to do. I did hope to get on my bike for a bit - even considered riding up to Starbucks for my coffee - but time was going to be tight, so I passed.

I rented an electric hedge trimmer, the kind that's almost as long as I am tall, and did my home version of the Texas Chainsaw Massacre. I lopped a couple of feet off each of the shrubs in my yard. I also used the machine to cut the perennial border down to about six inches in height. Then I raked up all the debris and hauled it out behind the house to the brush pile. I hope that when the monsoons hit this year, the yard won't look as ghastly as it did last year. We do tend to go away just when I should be cleaning up the garden.

Then I washed the sheets, towels and carpets from the motorhome, vacuumed the floor and furniture in there, and vacuumed the house.

When I returned the hedge trimmer, I considered driving on up for a second cup of coffee, but I couldn't bear the thought of steering all that way. I came home and made tea instead, and took some well-earned R&R. I had to use two hands to hold the teacup.

R has gone out for a short bike ride. I considered joining him, but in the end I decided I would probably fall off the bike. ;>) Tomorrow I work from 7 am to 3:30 pm, which leaves me plenty of time for an after-work ride.

Monday, August 29, 2005

Idyllic Weekend: a Review

We got in a couple of hours ago, having had a quiet, restful weekend on Denman Island. We were in the Provincial Park there - only 10 spots, no services (except the privies, which most of the visitors seemed to regard as Smoking Rooms. Ugh.) We did some cycling, walked the dog in the woods and along the beach, counted stars, read our respective books. I've recently started reading Banana Yoshimoto's stories. They're like an itch that you can't quite reach, but you keep trying to scratch it, because you can't help yourself. R is reading a book called Mimi and Toutou Go Forth, iirc. Considering the giggles I kept hearing from him, I guess I had better read it when he's finished.

When I got up yesterday morning, I heard a loon cry. I pointed it out to R, but he couldn't hear it. This morning I heard it again - then I realized that one loon couldn't possibly make all that noise. Even R could hear it. He went out and had a look. It was indeed an entire choir of loons. Their song was wonderful. It reminded me of that dance that Billy Elliot does in the movie - all leaps and whirls and clumsy landings and total exuberance. Great stuff.

On the subject of stories - all that peace and quiet bore fruit. I came up with two story ideas, which I shall promptly write down in the separate online journal I've created for that sort of thing. Also, it occurred to me that I could create a blog within a blog here, and copy my travel journal into it. That way, if we ever get our laptop, and if I ever figure out how to obtain and use WiFi service, I'll be able to journal as I go, without the intermediate handwriting stage. The travel journal is called "The Amazing Voyages of the Good Land Yacht Turtle." It's at I've also put a link over there. ====>

Friday, August 26, 2005

For All My Fans

LOL. I stopped by J&F's house this morning to pick up our rent-a-dog, and F said to me "I haven't seen anything new at Turtle Tracks - are you still stuck out by Newcastle Island?" Little did I know that they were following this narrative. So, lest they fall behind:

I had the day off today. I spent it doing chores and preparing to take the motorhome to Denman Island tomorrow. I took the Buick to Midas to see about having the brake pads done, as I could hear the squealers. I left the car there, asked them to call me with an estimate, and cycled up to Country Club Mall, where I met a friend for tea at Starbucks. Then I cycled on up to Longwood Station and had my hair cut. Just before I left Starbucks I got a call from the shop saying we need $1,200 worth of work on the car. Pffffft. I said we might well just put it away for the winter and think about it in the spring (in Tara).

Anyway, after my haircut I cycled back to Midas, put the bike on the car, and came home for lunch (at about 2:30 pm). My 'day off treat' was to sit and watch "Something the Lord Made". The title had always put me off, but I noticed that it had Alan Rickman in it, so I watched it. What a lovely movie! Nothing makes a day off like a good movie with a nice, soggy ending.

Having now walked the dog, finished packing the motorhome, and had dinner, I'm ready to collapse. I am so looking forward to being out on the island (a smaller island!), cycling and swimming and not working. See you next week!

Sunday, August 21, 2005

The Learning Experience

Well. We've been thinking about buying a boat of some description to put up on top of the motorhome. To help make the decision, we rented two kayaks this morning and paddled up the channel, around Newcastle Island and Jessie Island, and back to the rental shack - 3 hours of paddling.

I enjoyed the first part, sort of, but it was after our brief stop on Newcastle Island that I really thought we were on to something. When we first started, I felt I had to choose between paddling and steering. Doing both at the same time was beyond me. I must have made a comical picture, weaving and splashing my way up the channel. It's a wonder the harbour patrol didn't pull me over.

We beached the kayaks at Newcastle Island, where I tried to get out and ended up falling out into about six inches of warm water. I was still laughing when I stood up. I noticed a few minutes later that I had ripped a piece out of the front of my ankle (bottom of my shin?), but the cut wasn't serious. A few minutes later, we set out again, around to the outside of the island (the part that faces into the Georgia Strait), and I found that I was more comfortable than before. I had shortened the strap on my left rudder control a bit, which made steering much easier.

When we got out into the strait, we encountered some swell, but nothing too bad until we got close to the channel between Newcastle and Jessie Islands. There, the sea was very confused. There, as well, I discovered that it is quite possible to be seasick in a kayak.

We waited for the incoming ferry to go by, then struck out for Jessie Island. I was sick, exhausted, and frightened, in about equal measure. About then, I remember yelling to R., "I think that the sooner I'm out of this boat, the better." I paddled and rested, paddled and rested, then heard the outgoing ferry bellow. I paddled and gasped and paddled some more, and at that point, my symptoms rearranged themselves: frightened, exhausted, frightened, sick, frightened. My head was swimming (I was still in the boat, though), my legs were tingling, and I definitely wanted out of the damned boat. I would have been infinitely grateful to have the harbour patrol boat pull alongside. But no-o-o-o-o.

Eventually, we fetched up at the ramp, and a strong, cheerful young man helped us to come ashore. He assured me that my seasickness was only moderate - nothing like that of the man that projectile vomited throughout a 7 hour tour last week. How comforting. We finished our business with the kayak people, then automatically got back into the car in the positions we had arrived in - me behind the wheel, R in the passenger seat.

That lasted for about three blocks, until I made a right turn off the road filled with ferry traffic, then a very quick left into a diagonal parking space, and slammed on the brakes. I was out of the car in a flash and staggering up the grassy bank to a very solid rock, on which I sat with my head between my knees until the dizziness passed (sort of).

R drove us home, and I collapsed into a recliner, which unfortunately rocks when it isn't in the reclining position. I fixed that. About ten minutes later, I was able to get up and make myself a cup of green tea with peppermint, and half an hour after that, I made and ate a sandwich. Having had a brief nap, I still feel weak and puny, but I've stopped thinking I'm about to pass out.

R says his hips and shoulders are sore, but he really thinks a canoe with outrigger would be a better idea than the kayaks. They're too hard to get in and out of.

I think I'd rather ride my bicycle.

Friday, August 19, 2005

What a difference on the hills!

Yesterday morning got away from me a bit, and I missed the water pilates class, but at about 8AM I clambered aboard Honey and rode out to where my taxi lives (12.6 km away). It took me one hour and ten minutes (Lance Armstrong I'm not.) via Bowen Road. On the way, I pulled in at Starbucks and stopped the clock while I enjoyed my morning coffee and a breather. I was a little disappointed that the trip still took 1 hr. 10 minutes, even on my new bike, but I assured myself that the trip home would be faster, as it had more downhill runs.

When I reached my destination, I dropped off the envelope I had carried with me, got back on the bike, and rode home (as planned) via Jinglepot Road, which may or may not be slightly longer, but which has it all over Bowen Road wrt scenery. There are horse ranches, small farms of various sorts, and something called "Shady Mile" a pleasant forested area to which, every November 1, people from all over town bring their jack-o-lanterns and set them on fenceposts and along the roadside to entertain passersby for the next week or so.

I only dismounted for one hill. That was on Jinglepot, on the way home. I started up the hill, tried to downshift, and accidentally upshifted instead. Brought to a sudden halt, I got off in disgust and walked up the hill. As it turned out, it was a terrible climb, so I would probably have had to get off anyway, but that clinched it. The learning curve strikes again.

The time for the trip home? One hour, ten minutes. Sigh.

I arrived home in time to shower, dress, and head downtown (by car) to meet my online acquaintance and her parents for lunch. It was fun to play tour guide for a little while.

In the evening, R suggested we go for a swim at the Aquatic Centre, but wondered whether I was up to it, given that I was walking funny. Hmm. Fightin' words. I went. It was a silly thing to do, of course. The wave pool was making little waves, which I found very annoying, because all I had the energy to do was float on my back, and the waves kept trying to drown me. In the end, I decided to do some stretches in the water. I also went into the hot tub twice.

Much to my surprise, I feel okay today. I rode my bike downtown to ask Grumpy what maintenance I need to do on the bike (He loved that!), stopped in at the market for a couple of things, and rode home. If R wants to go out on the bikes tonight, I'll probably be up for it. Amazing.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

At Last

I took Honey out for a ride tonight. It was delightful to be able to stay on the bike even on steep hills. It wasn't easy, but I could do it. The bike seems very tall to me, and it will take time for me to feel comfortable getting on and off it, but once I'm there, I can fly!

I have the next two days off, and plan to do lots of cycling. There's a water pilates class tomorrow morning at the Aquatic Centre, so I'll try to cycle up there for 7:30am - weather and wakefulness permitting - then keep going to where I have to pick up my cab on workdays. I'd like to see how long it takes me on this new bike.

Coming home, I'll likely take Jinglepot Road, which is much more scenic than the highway. All this has to be done in time to come home, take a shower, and drive downtown by noon to meet an online acquaintance who is visiting from Chicago. I've recommended the little fish & chips place on the docks. They have a veggie burger, so I'll be able to stick to my usual fare.

If I survive tomorrow's efforts, I'll think of a new adventure for Friday - maybe Ladysmith and back?

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Go figure.

I went into the bike store this morning and paid for my bike. Later, R stopped in and picked it up for me. He took it for a spin (his delivery fee!) and reported that the gearing system is great.

Meanwhile, I spent the afternoon working, feeling ill, hoping I would feel better this evening so I could take Honey out (that's my bike's name, btw.) - but I don't. It wouldn't do to get too far from home in my state.

So - tomorrow is another day, right?

Sunday, August 14, 2005

Making the most of a day off

Now that I'm feeling a little more confident on my bike, I've raised the seat a bit. As a result, I can now stand up and pedal a few strokes from time to time. I think that's considered cheating in orthodox bike circles, but it enabled me to make great time this morning, even on the little hills. I never geared down below 2.4 in the 40 minutes we were out. I left R in the dust. Heh.

After our ride, we went to the Aquatic Centre for a swim, and I took my 45 minute Water Pilates class. I am now officially done in.

R has gone off to work now. He'll be home about 4:30 this afternoon, and then we'll go down to Yellowpoint with the dog. (I hope to have recovered by then.) There's a place called Blue Heron Cove that seems to be a haven for dog people. The last time we were there, there were about 8 dogs on the beach, running free, playing in the water, having a wonderful time. Nobody seemed at all bothered by the dogs. This time, I'm going to wear my swimsuit and have my first salt water swim of the season - before the season is gone.

Meanwhile, there are shrubs to be pruned. Sigh.

Saturday, August 13, 2005

Another Day, Another Decision

I've learned that the bike somebody at The Motley Fool recommended is not available in town - it looks as if I would have to go either to Vancouver or Victoria to buy it. I spoke to the Grumpy Old Man that runs the bike shop here - the one that carries the Miele Toscana L1 bike I liked - and he just made Grumpy Old Man Sounds. I told him that someone had recommended I upgrade to a bike like a Trek 7100 with the - I don't know - the whatever-it-was on the rear end - and he said "THAT WOULD MEAN GOING TO AN $800 BIKE"......and then....."WHO ARE THEY? THEY'RE CYCLISTS. THEY HAVEN'T BEEN SELLING BIKES FOR THIRTY-FOUR YEARS!"

What to do? What to do? I really would rather not get into a relationship with this man. His idea of customer relations is to growl and pound on his customers until they agree with him. On the other hand, I know that I'll have problems with my bike. It's a bike, after all. Disagreeable as he is, he's here in town, and he seems to know his stuff, and unlike most of the other bike salesmen around here, he's over twelve. I can walk from my house to his shop in half an hour, if necessary. If I buy the Trek bike or something like it, I'll have to drive 1 1/2 or 2 hours by car to get the service. Furthermore, I e-mailed Fort St. Cycles to ask about price and availability. They sent me an e-mail saying they could get the bike I'm interested in by next week, and they don't like to give out prices over the internet or phone, because they want to woo customers with their excellent service package. Again, the service is a couple of hours from here, by car, and I don't like being asked to drive all the way to Victoria without even knowing the price of the bike - and a service call wouldn't cost that much more than a drive to Victoria, what with gas prices going through the ceiling.

I've made up my mind, haven't I? It's me and Grumpy, joined at the hip, for as long as my bike lasts. Shudder. Maybe I'll make him some cookies or something, to soften him up.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Busy, busy

Such a busy week. There was the air show in Comox, which was, on the whole, not as good as in previous years, but it was still fun. We took our motorhome, parked in the special lot they had set aside for such as us, and sat on our roof to watch the proceedings. The Snowbirds finished the show in their usual spectacular fashion.
I'm not a fan of anything with an engine, really, but the Snowbirds always bring tears to my eyes.

Then, back to work, trying to fit an hour on my bike in every day - although I missed yesterday. I just told myself that Charlie would approve. ;>)

Today I had the day off, and I spent part of it going from cycle shop to cycle shop, looking for a new bike. I'm becoming increasingly dissatisfied with my mountain bike. I had no idea what I was looking for when I bought it. Now, I'm beginning to understand what kind of riding I'm really going to be doing, what my own physical limitations are and how my choice of bike can help to mitigate those limitations. Of the four bikes I've tried out today, the least expensive one is the one I like best - BONUS! It's $425 Cdn, which is still a fair amount for me to spend, so I'm posting to the Bicycling Fools board at the Motley Fool, asking for advice, before I commit to anything.

Here's the bike I'm considering:

I guess this is the end of my post. R is standing in the doorway, telling me he's ready to go for a bike ride. Carpe diem. Bye.

Saturday, August 06, 2005

Sandra the Intrepid Traveler

First thing yesterday morning I made my groggy way out to the storeroom to pick up my bike and headed out for a ride. I'd been cycling along for about twenty minutes when it occurred to me that I was going to be cycling home from the north end after work, and maybe I should take it easy. So I limited the ride to half an hour, got ready for work, and put cycling out of my mind until after 7 pm, when I had finished working. I stopped at Starbucks, got a bottle of water and a ginger-molasses cookie (supper), changed into my heart-stopping cycling clothes in the washroom, then picked my bike up and transported it a little farther north to where the car lives.

I left there on the bike at 8:10 pm, and arrived home at 9:20 pm. The trip home is slightly more downhillish than the trip I did the other morning, so it didn't take the hour and a half I expected, which was good. I was a little concerned about the light situation. My bike has no lights, and the day was rapidly turning to night - just as I got to the part of town that makes me a little edgy. Everything worked out fine, though. R was standing in the driveway when I got home, also a little concerned, I guess.

I expected to be dead on my feet, but I actually felt quite well after the ride, and it was 12:30 am when I finally did collapse into bed. At 6:00 am I woke up coughing - probably inhaled a bug on the bike ride ;>), so today I did feel a litle weary - but R and I went for a 50 minute ride this morning. It wasn't until I was working that the weariness set in. Hmmmm. Maybe I'd just rather be cycling.

Now it's time to really get some rest, because we're off to Comox tomorrow morning for the air show.

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Best Laid Plans

Still elated from yesterday's ride, I decided to do it again this morning. I didn't have to start work until 10:45. My bike needed a tune-up again. So I decided to bike from my house to where my cab lives (about an hour and a half - for me - north). I intended to ride to my cab, toss the bike in the trunk and take it back to Country Club Mall, where the bike store is, then drive home, shower, eat breakfast, and go to work.


I left home at 8:10AM, slightly behind schedule, but not dangerously so. I rode and rode, braving the cars along the highway, being very rudely cut off by a transport truck driver, finally making it safely to the bike path that starts half an hour from home and follows alongside the highway to the mall. I was still on that path at 9:00AM, five minutes from Country Club, still 20-30 minutes from my car, when my cell phone rang. It was my boss, calling to advise me that my cab was at the garage - three blocks from my house in the opposite direction. I'm afraid I shrieked a bit, which was unfair, considering that she had thought she was doing me a favour by leaving the cab there, thus saving me a drive out to her house.

Once I regained my composure, we arranged that I would go ahead and take my bike to the shop, repair to the nearby Starbucks, and wait for this lady to pick me up and take me back to the garage. She had to take her baby to daycare in that area anyway, so all worked out well, except that my bike won't be ready until tomorrow night, so R had to come pick me up after work tonight. I even managed to get home and have that shower and breakfast and start work on time, in spite of everything.

By a strange co-incidence, I finished my shift right there at Country Club Mall, and seeing the hand of fate at work, I went in and spent an inordinate amount of money on a pair of black spandex cycling shorts and a fancy-schmantzy hot pink sweat-wicking cycling shirt, which will clash horribly with my red helmet, so no d&^&^(! truck driver can look me squarely in the eye and pretend not to see me so he can justify pulling out in front of me on an uphill grade. Grrrrrrrr. If you can't beat 'em, blind 'em.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

I feel SO WELL today ----

R and I were going to go to Vancouver today, to visit his sons at their workplace, but that turned out to be unworkable. Then we thought perhaps we would take our bikes on the ferry to Horseshoe Bay (north end of Vancouver), load them onto the front of an express bus going downtown, and spend a couple of hours cycling in Stanley Park. We received a timely warning that the buses only have room for two bikes on them, so we had better try to be first off the ferry and first in line at the bus --- it all seemed like too much trouble, so instead ---

We drove to Victoria (an hour and a half) - parked the car at the foot of Beacon Hill Park, got on our bikes, rode for an hour along the seaside to Oak Bay, turned around and drove back to the car. Total cycling time: 2 hours, 5 minutes. Then we drove home.

The bike ride was beautiful. We stopped a couple of times to gaze at Mt. Baker gleaming in the distance, to guess where AngelMay's house might be, out there across the water, to talk to a couple of guys about kayaks. There were two truly wicked hills that had us off our bikes and trudging, but I was pleased with the way I handled most of the hills.

At the end of the two hours on my bike, I felt as if I had another hour in me. I probably didn't, probably would have collapsed in a heap after another half hour, but as it was, I quit while I still wanted more (rush hour approaching, and all that).

What a wonderful day.