Diving in

I’ve been so busy doing stuff that I just keep putting off blogging. The more I put it off, the more anxious I get about how I’m going to post something really long. So, I’m just diving in tonight.

The weather has been great for cycling, so I’ve been riding in to work twice a week. I want to take advantage of the good weather, ’cause once it gets really hot and sticky I may not want to do so. I have my old bike back now, too, and that is really nice. I was using Mark’s “old” bike (it’s only 2 years old, and is in great shape, whereas mine is 7 years old), but we just couldn’t get it adjusted to be as low-impact on my body as my old bike. After several trips on Mark’s old bike my body was feeling really sore.

Mark and my sister put together a surprise birthday party for me which was a wonderful way to mark the milestone of my 40th birthday. The surprise was well-kept, too. I started to suspect something about an hour before the party, but I still consider that a successful surprise.

What’s really been keeping me occupied, though, is all the food processing I’ve been doing. I’ve been going to the farmer’s markets at least once a week, loading up, and then figuring out what to do with the bounty when I get home. I’ll have a hard time returning to the bland fare available in the supermarkets this winter, so I’m also trying to preserve stuff. In the past 2 weeks, I’ve made 24 cups of strawberry freezer jam, and frozen another 1.5 gallons of fresh strawberries. Now the blueberries are starting to come in. I think I’ll just freeze them whole and not process them. I’m pretty tired of jam-making right now, although the product is totally yummy.

Something to note: while researching recipes for freezer jam, most of them called for copious amounts of sugar. I found a pectin product that allows me to make freezer jam with very little sugar: Pomona’s Universal Pectin. It’s fantastic. If you’re interested in making freezer jam with honey or fruit juice as sweetener, this is the product to get.

I’ve been paying much more attention to what I eat and my palate is totally adjusted to fresh food now. Last weekend Mark suggested we go to a local restaurant for dinner — one that I found quite good in the past — and I was disappointed with the taste of the food this time. I want fresh stuff now.

I don’t know what I’ll do about eggs this winter, either. I’ve been buying them at the farmer’s market only. I’m starting to think seriously about getting a few laying hens. We have the room in the backyard, and would just have to train the dogs to not go after them…hmmm…Farmer Linda!

Oooff!

I cycled to and from work again today, and I had my first accident. I’m OK, but the bike is messed up.

I was on my way home this afternoon and was still in the Loop when an a**hole of a cab driver caused my accident. I was in the bike lane approaching an intersection. Ahead and to my right was cab #1, dropping off a fare. I was watching this cab closely to see if he would pull away from the curb and into my bike lane. No, he was going to turn right. Fine. But cab #2 on my left caught me by surprise as it cut in front of me so he could turn right, too. He left me about 3-4 feet to come to a dead stop. Not enough.

I braked hard, but could see that inevitably I was going to end up in a collision. I screamed loud. I screamed like a little girl, wailing and piercingly high. I hit the bumper of cab #1 head on, flipped over the handle bars, and ended up on the trunk of cab #1. I pushed myself off the cab, then I cursed loudly, in very ungirl-like words. I think my exact words were “God damn motherfu**er!!” Or something equally coarse and nasty.

I was shaking. My right elbow hurt. The index finger on my left hand was jammed. Pedestrians were asking me if I was alright. Both cab drivers asked if I was alright. I told them I thought I was OK. I was more worried about my bike.

As I got on the bike and headed on up Canal Street, I could tell it was not right. It felt like something was wrong with the front. It wasn’t until I was about 5 miles along my ride that I realized my front brake was stuck. And it wasn’t until I was completely home, 9 miles later, that I really looked at the front of my bike. The front fork is ruined. It is completely pushed in. No wonder my front tire felt funny. No wonder I had to have the front tire pointed absolutely straight ahead as I took off from a complete stop; if I didn’t, the tire would rub against the pedals.

The bike is already in the shop. In total, the damages will be just over $100. In currency, that is. Yes, I will continue to ride. But not next week, since it will take that long to get a new fork and have it installed.

I also have a swollen lump over my right knee. Great. My already bad right knee now has a bruise.

As I rode home I was angry, angry, angry.

Please, if you drive a car at all, watch for cyclists. I’m a good cyclist. I don’t do stupid shit like weave in and out of traffic or dash in front of drivers. So, why ignore me? Why treat me like a piece of trash blowing across the road?

F***ing drivers!

Life in the city

Sometimes, living in this city exposes one to such bizarre things. This afternoon, as I was standing in my kitchen looking out the window I saw a man commit a crime.

This isn’t the first time I’ve witnessed crimes. I’ve seen drug deals: one where the buyer stopped his car for a moment in the street, and the seller pedaled up on a bike; the other where money and drugs were exchanged through an open el door at rush hour. (Yep, rush hour on the Belmont Red Line platform can be soooo interesting!) I’ve seen drunk and disorderly arrests (also on an el platform.) I’ve seen drunk drivers sideswipe parked cars, and a few auto collisions, too (including one where the drivers staggered out of the cars dripping blood, and then ran like hell away from the scene.)

Now, I don’t know for sure if it’s a crime to defecate in the public way, but I’m going to assume it is. Yes, that’s right. I saw a man shit in public.

He walked furtively along the alley with a handful of leaves, looked around a few times to see if there was anyone near, then pulled down his pants and set to business. It was an alley, but it was a very open and public alley bordered by a condominium parking lot on one side (all with balconys overlooking said lot and alley), and my house on the other side. I had a clear view of this guy and his activities and I did not enjoy it one bit.

Mark was around today and happened to be standing near the back door when this happened. I skwawked out something like, “Mark, there’s a guy shitting in the alley! Go stop him!” Mark paused for only a second, then charged out of the house. The guy was sufficiently interrupted and took off quickly yelling, “I’m sorry, I couldn’t hold it!”

This definitely tops that one evening where a couple guys stopped their car to dump their empties and piss on my fence. Right under my dining room window. I was alerted when the dogs started going crazy barking and flinging themselves against the window.

Yep. Crazy city life.

I biked to work again yesterday. It was a chilly morning (about 44 degrees F), but I warmed up as I rode. I’m going to try to bike in again tomorrow. So far the weather has been really nice for biking and I want to take advantage of it while I can. I do enjoy the experience of riding, but I wish it didn’t involve so much poor air. When there’s a lot of traffic I really feel like I’m sucking on the tailpipes.

Getting active

I really should try to blog every couple days at least, since so much has been happening in a week!

First to wrap up some loose ends: did I get everything on my list done? No. But enough was done that I felt a good sense of accomplishment and success. That was the most important thing. Work has been so demanding on me lately — taking up so much energy and time, while not providing that all important sense of accomplishment — that I really needed to feel like I was making progress somewhere. I guess this is also an important lesson for me, too. I can’t rely only on work to fulfill me. It’s much better to look for personal fulfillment in my personal life. Makes sense!

So, my little bit of spring cleaning/chore tackling has helped clear up some mental clutter, too, I guess. Some of my list didn’t get done because once I reached this critical point, I sidetracked a bit. These were good sidetracks, though.

The first one involved a new skill: crochet.

Crochted market bag
Have I gone over to the dark side? No, but I really did enjoy how fast this worked up. I started it on Sunday of Memorial Day weekend and finished it up on Monday night. I have to admit that once I started it, though, I just didn’t want to stop. It was great to work on a project that could be finished so quickly.

Yes, I still worked on my other knitting projects. I did not finish my sweater, but I got most of the finishing done. I only have one sleeve left to set in. But, I’m not happy with how it is fitting, so I’ve set it aside for now. I’ll get back to it later. I will. Really.

The first Tofutsies sock is done, and although I seemed to have mental challenges getting the toe started on sock #2 (six attempts to do a short row garter stitch toe? what was wrong with me!?), I’m now working on the foot which makes perfect commuter knitting. Although my commuting time may not be so conducive to knitting these next few months. More on this in a bit…

Let’s get back to the market bag. I made this bag because I wanted something to bring with me to the farmer’s markets to carry my purchases. I’d heard that the crocheted string bags are much more durable than the knitted ones, so I thought I’d give crochet a try.

I’m so glad the farmer’s markets are back! I really miss getting fresh, local, flavorable produce. This past week, I’ve been to two farmer’s markets already. At the Thursday Loop market in Daley Plaza I added asparagus, strawberries, onions, baby turnips, and radishes to my new market bag. Yesterday at the Evanston farmer’s market, I picked up more asparagus, watercress, kale, Chinese broccoli (I love this stuff!!!), eggs, rhubarb, and more strawberries.

Yesterday afternoon was spent processing the “harvest.” I blanched and froze a couple pounds of asparagus, and froze about 2 quarts of strawberries. I still have just over one quart of fresh strawberries sitting on the counter, waiting for…something. I also cut up the rhubarb and made some strawberry-rhubarb crisp in custard cups. Baking them in the cups was a way to practice portion control, although I ended up eating two portions last night. Yum!!

I was in Evanston to visit the chiropractor for my usual 6 week check up, but I also had an appointment with a Chinese medicine and acupuncturist. I’ve decided I need to try something new to deal with the chronic health issues I’ve had in the past few months. The fatigue, mood swings, and weight gain must stop. It’s hard to be productive when you just feel like sleeping all the time, or crying, or wanting to rip someone’s face off. Traditional medicine isn’t helping me at all. My blood work was “normal,” but my gut tells me that I’m going through a major metabolic and hormone shift that that is resulting in misery for me.

So, yesterday I had a consult and an acupuncture session. The acupuncture was very cool. As he put the pins in the place, it felt like little circuits were being switched on in my body and currents were being connected. It was a very satisfying experience. I relaxed, yet felt energized, too. I also have some herbs to take twice a day. I go back in about 10 days for session #2.

The second sidetrack involved my bike. I took it into the bike shop had a rear rack installed, and purchased a trunk bag to mount on the rack. I’ve decided to use my bike more for running errands and for commuting to work. Last week I biked between Stitch n’ Bitch and home (about 7 miles each way), and Friday I biked between work and home (9 miles each way). Commuting to work on my bike takes me about an hour. It takes me about 40 minutes to get to work on the train, but biking is a great way to get some regular exercise into my day. I’ve decided to bike at least once a week, and will try to do it two days a week if the weather cooperates.

Unfortunately, biking and knitting don’t mix so this will cut into my knitting time. Ah, well, life is full of compromises, right?