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July 1, 1998

Biology Vrs Reality

I was sitting there last night just grouchy and grumpy and wondering why the hell is it that the endings and beginnings of months just so awful and why am I just always in such a bad mood and there were ten thousand reasons why it could also be a good day instead of a really awful feeling day and then the phrase "every month" hit me and I went, "Doh."

I really hate it when biology influences my moods more than reality, though there were a few rough spots in the reality, it didn't justify my mood, at *all*.

We started home earlier than usual, around 6 p.m. and stopped by the grocery store on the way home and bought a few things for just two dinners and possibly lunches. Figured that buying much more than that is never a good idea as I just forget anything that's supposed to be further out than two days.

We did get home earlier than usual, too. I started dinner, chicken cacciatore, by caramelizing an onion in the ceramic, smashing garlic (and finding that the techniques taught by Pepin reduced the fine chopping time to a third of what I used to use), and taking chicken parts apart at the joint. I'd started by sharpening my knife, and had gotten it pretty wicked-sharp, to the point that all the cutting just slid by, and the breast meat peeled off whole from the rib bones with a few slices. That was very nice, a little scary too knowing exactly what that knife could do to me, if I misused it. Yeesh.

But the chicken bits browned happily, then I added about a cup of red wine, let it simmer down to half and then a can of the Italian tomatos in their own juice and pulp with a few canned basil leaves. More basil, and a bay leaf and the cover went onto it and the heat down to low. I intended it to cook for hours, as I wanted to work on my bike.

So I went out to the garage, found my bike, found all the parts and then couldn't find the metric hex tools. So I found John, asked him where it was, and then he went through and found 'em, but also found out that the kickstand the guy had gotten me wouldn't fit, that the seat was held on a certain way and so he started taking that apart, and then... well, basically started doing things for me rather than just explaining things and finding things and getting out of the way. It peeved me muchly, so we talked it out, and figured it out and that'll be okay. I got to put my water bottle rack on. Yay!

So the only thing left was a test ride.

A bit about our driveway. It's nearly 200 yards long, and the half nearer the road has this odd curving steepness up to the road. There have been a few times when I've taken cars up our driveway and spun out near the top and had to back all the way down before getting up enough momentum to get to the top. The problem is that it gets steeper as you go up. It's also gravel and when it's wet or icy gets pretty tricky for most normal street-tired cars. One of the reasons I love the Stoat is that it has the nubby toed tires that has no problems at all, with the weight of the vehicle, to get up that slope. All the way up to the last ten feet, which flattens out just a bit so it's possible to pause before lunging out into the road. It's a dirt road, and there are only two dwelling places further down it so it's not likely to run into traffic, but it's still nice to be able to pause a bit.

What's worse yet is that on the left is basically a huge blackberry bramble that keeps trying to eat the driveway because there's more light there than within it's own vast, thick, darkness. On the right is a six foot tall thicket of stinging nettle. It just grows there happily. I sometimes harvest it to give another try at nettle cloth.

But all that made the driveway something of a challenge to me and, well, honestly, my first ride on a bike in several years, if not a decade... and, well. Uhm. I fell over. About 5 yards from the top. The low gears of the bike are really, really powerful for getting up the steep slope, but when I got really slowed down and was really trying to push on the gravel, the wheels just lost all traction, and I stopped, forgot about grabbing the brakes, put my right leg down and went CRASH. To the right.

Made me yell when I went down, then after I lay there a bit, feeling the burn of stinging nettle all over, checking out my body, the bike, and then having to figure out a way back up. The shakes hit me before I was up as I'd fallen on the side of the bad knee. I bent it, straightened it, and there was no problems with it. That's when I started laughing. Yeesh. I was so damned lucky.

I finally figured out a way to unpretzel myself from the bike, got up and limped back down the driveway as the bike was making a thunk thunk sound, and didn't want to do anything to it until John looked it over. John looked at me, looked at the bike and hugged me thoroughly, then we hunted down some big ferns, stole a fat leaf, and rubbed fern juice all over my burning and blistering stinging nettle patches. It helped a lot. Then we looked over the bike and the only thing was that the derailer was off a few notches. So readjusted it and I just sedately rode it over the house side of the driveway, turning on gravel and sand and odd bits of concrete.

What blew my mind was the feeling that the bike was infinitely more agile than I was capable of using. Right then and there, I felt it was something of a patient creature, willing to let me learn on it and so utterly self-confident of what it was and how it could perform that it wasn't going to be snotty about anything to me, but was going to carry me and had the confidence that I'd actually learn how to ride it as it ought to be ridden. It's just a darned inanimate object, dang it. A very well made one, but still just a thing. But I couldn't help getting the feeling that it was being nice to me even with the fall and was going to get me to ride it right, eventually.

Dinner was done by then. The cacciatore was filling the air in the house with the rich fragrance of slowly caramelized tomatos and slow-cooked chicken. I boiled pasta while drooling at the scent and turning the stuff to be sure that the bottom wasn't too badly burned, and then served it up. Yum. The chicken was so tender it fell off the bones and sauce had reduced to this intense, thick red paste from the tomatos, onions, wine, garlic and spice all cooked down into a heat concentrated flavor that was pretty intense and excellent on the pasta.

With bread, it was keen.

We ate and then took Fezzik for a walk. It was still light out. I am still somewhat amazed just how much we stuffed into the one evening, compared to most of our evenings.

After that, even, we watched World Cup soccer, England vrs Argentina. It was a really amazing game. Sadly it ended up with PK's. Drat. The game itself was power and poetry in motion and it was nasty, hard-fought, and the referee was most excellent, which isn't something I'll say often, but he called what was there, kept control of the game and really let the players decide the game. Consequences rather than a brandishing of power.

We didn't get to sleep until 1 a.m., but the soccer game was worth it.

I'm going to have to ride that bike again, treat it right this time, take it up to the dirt road and just zoom about up there or something. I have PT today, but the thunderstorm forecast has gone away, so I'll have something of a chance. I'm sore all over from the fall, but likely can't say anything about to Rick or he'll get on my case a bit for even taking the chance for that stupid fall. Well, it was pretty stupid.

So here's to less stupidity...

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