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May 30, 1999
a year ago

Walk, Pop and Bike

Today began really well. As soon as I appeared from the bedroom, John greeted me with the question, "Do you want to go to Dot's?"

I agreed readily, and John decided to load Fezzik into the Land Rover as well. He had plans to go to the open-space between home and Boulder on the way back home. We weren't able to do it yesterday, and he wanted to do it today.

Breakfast was delicious as usual, I had something they called Arnold's Eggs, which had one of their wonderful biscuits split open under two slices of ham, two poached eggs, and a smothering wave of their country gravy. The biscuit was crisp and complemented the richness of the rest of the ingredients very well. I also had a small cranberry juice that was tart and sweet in contrast. The coffee was as dense as before and cut the richness of the dish very well.

Fezzik waited for us in the Land Rover quite patiently. We had found a spot to park that had plenty of shade, so it wasn't too hot for him. We then tooled over to the Open Space park, and found that they didn't allow dogs on the lake side of the trail. They did, however, allow dogs along the trail to the stream side, so we took that way. The park, in part, is a working farm. There is a stream and irrigation ditches that run through it. The way you can tell which is the natural stream is by the trees that grow to either side. We followed the way to the trees, and came across a bridge. Fezzik immediately headed down the bank and into the water. It was deep enough to get him wet to the shoulder, but not so deep that he ever lost his footing. He paddled about contentedly as we watched. When he decided to come out, we both stood back as he shook off, and then we'd all happily went on down the path.

We got a good look at the farm, and I was still struck by how open everything is. You can see very great distances here. The line of sight isn't always a distance that is easily travellable. Unlike in Seattle, where trees and hills on every side close down the distances you can see. In Seattle, if you could see where you were going, a were almost already there. Here, if I can see where it is I want to go, there may be still half a mile the go or even more. The calibration of distances has been one of the harder adjustments to make.

After the bridge, the path actually followed stream, and every once in awhile Fezzik would wander off the path into the stream, swim for a while against the current, and then climb back onto the path. One seemed as good as the other to him. Though, I think he actually preferred the water, except we kept moving forward so when he wanted to catch up it was easier on the land.

By the time to walk was finished, he was damp, panting, and happy. When the loaded him back into the back of the Land Rover, he just lay down instead of popping up to look at everything every time we stopped. When we got him home, he lay down in the middle of the living room in went to sleep and pretty much didn't move for the rest of the day.

John and I were then able to watch the Avalanche game without having to do anything for Fezzik during the entire time. That was pretty nice. One of the great things about watching hockey is that you know that there are three 20 minute periods with two 20 minute periods of commercials between them. Each hockey period has too much action and too few stops for their to be any serious commercial showing, so it's very nice to know that there are 20 minutes when we can just walk away from the TV and do stuff. Especially with as intense a game as this one was, it was nice to take the breaks.

John hung the hanging chairs during his breaks, and I brewed root beer and ginger beer during mine. The ginger beer was first, and I mixed a gallon of warm water, twice the flavoring this time, and only three-quarters of the sweet that I'd put in last time. I substituted half a cup of honey for half a cup of sugar, the honey that I'd bought yesterday. I'd wanted more ginger bite to the soda pop, which is why I increased the amount of flavoring. Instead of using baking yeast, I used champagne yeast, and rehydrated a quarter teaspoon of the dry yeast in a cup of warm water. I used half the cup of rehydrated yeast in the ginger beer, reserving the other half for the gallon batch of root beer I did in the second rest period. I mixed it all together, and then funneled it into bottles, which both John and I then capped. We have an old, metal bottle-capper that uses leverage to push down all the edges onto the bottle top. One gallon plus four ounces equals 132 ounces total, which fills exactly eleven 12 oz. bottles. I was pretty proud of myself are figuring that out, and both batches worked out exactly.

All the bottles fit just fine into the case box that I'd bought of Mount Angel root beer. Most of the bottles that I'd re-filled were emptied Mount Angel bottles. Reuse is often more satisfying than recycling.

The Avalanche game was really good, and part of that might be because they also won that game.

Afterwards, John invited me to sit out on the porch in the new swinging chairs. They really are the best compromise between the freedom and comfort of the hammock and the sturdiness and convenience of a lawn chair. It was really comfortable, but after only about 15 minutes I dragged myself out of the chair and into the garage.

Near the end of June there is an event at work called Walk and Roll, which is the day in a week devoted to alternate means of transportation into work. Since we're a good 15 miles out from work, walking isn't really that viable a solution. The mountain bikes are very nice for rough road situations and hills, but most of the road between here and there is flat. So one of my grand plans is to get the road bikes into shape for the event. A few weeks ago, I bought all the parts for the bikes that I thought I needed. So, now was time to do it all so that both John and I would have some time to ride experimental rides before hitting the full 15 miles at once.

I started on my bike, and the first thing John taught me was how to replace a tire and innertube. Tire tools are useful things for that, but it really was a simple as peeling the tire over the rim and then pulling the innertube out from under it. I then removed the cracking rubber tire, and the flexible new one back on, added the innertube, inflated it a little to make sure it didn't catch on anything, and put the tire the rest of the way back on the rim. It was much more simple, for some reason, than I had thought it would be. The rear tire was just a little more complex because of all the derailleur things that had to be detached before I could get the tire out from under the chain. The tire itself was just as simple.

Then John showed me where the ball bearings were around the rear axle. So I took apart the entire rear axle through the rear tire, cleaned everything out with various rags and lots of spray-on degreaser that smelled of citrus. The ball bearings were kind of fun, especially with a pan to catch them all when they came bouncing out of the pockets around the axle when I pulled the axle. John admired the degreaser, as he had always used kerosene in the past, and having the ability to spray it on instead of only being able to dunk and wipe was really nice. I then decreased and wiped off every single ball bearing, the axle, and the various bolts that held everything together. While I was in the vicinity, I also cleaned off all the rear sprockets. Then I re-packed all the rear axle bearing pockets with grease, and very carefully used a magnetic screwdriver to pick up and put into place each ball bearing on one side. I was then able to put the axle and one set of bolts through the wheel. Using one hand to hold the axle in place, which also held the ball bearings into place, I used the other to pack grease into the other pocket. Somehow, by using the control I had of the axle angle and more usage of that magnetic screwdriver, I was then able to place the other ball bearings into the other side. The next trick was to tighten down the bolts on second side tight enough to keep the whole thing together, but loose enough to allow free motion of the entire wheel around the axle. That took a few tries.

The next thing was a tedious and thorough cleaning of the chain and drive crank. On my bike, those things had the most dirt and grit accumulation. I went through two of John's socks and much of the degreaser to get most of the crud off. It was a very detailed task, which my hands didn't like very much by the time it was through. Most of the other work required enough strength that I was able to use muscle power instead of my tendons to do. The chain, however, was tiny work that didn't require much strength, so was much like keyboard work.

By the time I was done with that, the sun was going down. I still had the front wheel axle to do, but it was getting dark, and we still had to take care of the trees on the property. The pine trees were still browning, so still needed more of the mildly acid food as well as plenty of water. So both John and I then ran out and fed and watered all the trees. He did most of the water work, and I ran everywhere with my sprinkler watering can filled with two gallons of water with two tablespoons of MirAcid. The regular trees got regular MiracleGro at the same concentration.

By the time we were done with that, I was the one that needed feeding. The time we went out with Tracy and Jonah, we had discovered that there was a Fuddruckers right across the street. So John I decided to go there for dinner. We knew that they did hamburgers really well, but didn't know what else they offered for dinner. It turned out they also did a grilled chicken breast as well as deep-fried shrimp. I got those together as a combination plate, and was very content. Their cole slaw was pretty good too. So, full and tired, I got home and went to sleep. As I was getting ready for bed, I spotted a feather by the lamp on my desk, and remembered that I wanted to do one more experiment for quills. So I took the feather, and put the bare end of it in a glass of water and wedged it against the edge of a mirror to make sure it stayed underwater and would soak all night. Then I went to sleep.

I was very happy with all the things that I had gotten done with the day.

I think the most interesting thing was the discovery of just how straightforward it is to maintain the secret bits of my bike. I hadn't really known how the whole thing went together, that I think I would've been afraid to try to take it apart without John around. As it was, however, it was really cool to find out that it wasn't as much difficulty as I'd envisioned. That was good to know.

Brought to you by Dragon System's Point & Speak.

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