Friday, September 26, 2014

Back in the Saddle Again

I bought a bicycle a couple of weeks ago. And I know what you’re thinking: She’s over 60. Surely she had the good sense to buy one of those clunky, upright cruisers with giant U-shaped handlebars – you know, the ones that give you the same posture as riding a Clydesdale. If she was smart, you thought, she’d have a bike with white-wall tires, enormous fenders and a wide seat that looks like someone sat on a loaf of sourdough. You probably even thought to yourself, it’s madness that an old gal like her should get a bike at all. I mean, is there cycling after 60?  

I must admit the day Ken and I went to the cycle shop, I was resigned to buying a cruiser. After all, I have progressed through the modern history of bicycles since my first trike in the 1950s. I’ve had one-speeds, three-speeds, 10-speeds, mountain bikes and city bikes. So, it just seemed natural to think that I should be riding a bike that declared, “Charter Member of the Depends Club.”

I explained my issue with sciatica to the sales rep and asked him to show me something with optimal upright posture. He steered me clear of the old-grey-mares and led out the sweetest little filly this side of the Sierra Nevada. She had a white, light-weight aluminum alloy body, Shimani-Tourney brakes with a 21-gear assembly and straight-across handlebars positioned slightly lower than the seat. “Oh, my aching sacroiliac!” I said, expressing concern about back strain.  “No, no!” he said, “You really don’t want to sit upright.”

“I don’t?”

“No, you don’t. Upright means you put too much pressure on the sciatic nerve with all your weight landing on your rear end.”

(Watch it, mister! I thought. All my weight, indeed.)

“Better to ride with your back flat, but leaning slightly forward so the weight transfers to your hands.”

“Interesting,” I said, “Go on.”

“And you don’t want that wide cushion seat.”

“I don’t?”

“No, you want one of these high-tech bad-boys designed especially for women.”


“See, it has gel pads right here to cushion your sits bones and this long groove here that relieves pressure where you need it.”

“Where I need it? OH! Where I NEED it! Oh, yes, I see!” I was starting to feel a little giddy.

At this point, he had my full attention. Ken’s too.

“Yes! And if you want to upgrade to this other saddle, it has an open section down the middle so you also get ventilation.”

“Oo!” My excitement mounted. I was getting a little light headed. It was like a chapter right out of Masters and Johnson.

“Uh huh. And this one here is the deluxe model that torques with you on turns so you get maximum flexibility in the saddle.”

“Oh, Baby! Oh, Baby! I’ll take the deluxe!”

The sales rep went away to tune the brakes before ringing up the sale. “Good thing,” Ken said, “That was quite enough of that kind of talk. If he said one more thing about your seat, I was going to have to deck him.”

Now that I’ve had the new bike for a couple of weeks, I must say, it is very comfortable. I’m especially pleased with the saddle. Too old for cycling – ridiculous!

Excuse me now. I think I need to go for a ride. Giddyap!


Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Achoo on You!

Have you noticed that you never hear about a cure for the common cold anymore? You know why? Because we’re all too busy talking about blame for the common cold.

Think about it. It’s somebody’s fault. And we want to know who it was.

“My kid must have brought this miserable thing home from school. Kindergarten is just one big petri dish.”

“I just bet I caught this rotten cold from that jerk who sneezes on the copier.”

“Oh, great. You’ve given me YOUR cold. Thanks a lot, eh?”

“Don’t kiss me! I AM NOT going to get what you’ve got!”

“I probably picked up this wretched cold from the air conditioning at work. You know WHO sets it on “Ice Box” and the rest of us go around shivering all day.”

“I’ve told you a hundred times! Wash your hands! Who knows whose germs you’re going to pick up.”

“You must have caught it on the plane. Should have taken your Airborne. Honestly, we’re all going to catch Ebola one of these days.”

“Did you go out with that wet hair? Are you just BEGGING for a cold!”

“For heaven’s sake! Will you please sneeze into your arm! You’re going to give your cold to EVERYBODY.”

At our house we are just now getting over late summer/early fall, transition-season colds that HE brought home from work a couple of weeks ago. Somebody gave it to him. And it’s his fault that I got it.

Both of us were cranky when that first sniffle and scratchy sensation in the throat came on.

“Yech! I do not need to get sick.”

“Oh, honey, I’m sorry you aren’t feeling well. Is it going around at work?”

“Like the plague.”

“I want names.”

I just knew I was going to catch it. It was inevitable. I felt it coming on. It was a Friday afternoon. Great, there goes the weekend.

“My throat hurts.”

“Oh, I’m sorry.”

“You should be.”

“I didn’t give it to you on purpose!”


We couldn’t POSSIBLY do this to OURSELVES! So how does this happen? It could have been that fan blowing on us at yoga. Or the wet towel the hair dresser used for our mini facial. Was it sitting in that clinic waiting room with all those sneezy wretches who pawed the magazines? Or was it the germ encrusted handle of the coffee pot in the break room? Maybe it was that kid that coughed all over the salad bar.

But how effective is it really to lay blame for our illness on something or someone? Will it make our flu-like symptoms go away any faster if we find out exactly how we contracted this vile virus? NO it will not! We’ll still have the damn cold.

So if you’re getting this thing that’s going around, stock up on case lots of tissue, buy your supply of Nyquil and slurp some chicken soup. You caught it. It isn’t going away. But if it makes you feel any better, turn to your spouse and growl, “You did this to me.” He’ll understand.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Roads Less Taken

Sometimes life takes on metaphoric overtones. Take the proverbial issue of a road that diverges, for example. Some folks choose the path to the left. Some head to the right. Some say, “What could go wrong?” Some others turn around and walk back the way they came. “Well, for one thing going wrong; we could get lost,” they might say.

And some people might reply, “That’s half the fun!”

“For you, maybe.”

“Oh, c’mon! Let’s keep going.”

“No, we don’t know where either road goes.”

“I doubt that we’re going to run into street gangs or meth labs in this neighborhood if that’s what you’re worried about.”

“Very funny. You go ahead.”


“Fine. I’ll see you back at the B&B.”

By the time I got back to our room I was already tsk-tsk-ing to myself about not being adventurous enough to walk a little further down a path to see what was around the corner. And, really, I asked myself, how lost can you get in an upscale residential neighborhood with GPS on your iPhone? But then, I have always been the cautious type. I doubt I would have taken any risks in life at all if it hadn’t been for my better-half prodding me to do things like, oh, let’s say, take a trip or load the dishwasher differently.

And so, when the suggestion was made that we return to Dayton from Ann Arbor, Michigan on Labor Day weekend using a less-traveled route than the Interstate highway that got us there, I tip-toed out of my comfort zone and said, meekly, with great reservation, “Sure.”

Actually, I exaggerate. We travel country roads quite frequently. Besides, I-75 on the way north had been a hundred and thirty-five miles of construction zones, eighteen-wheelers barreling down on us and caffeine-addled, Nascar Wannabees riding our bumper doing their determined best presumably to drive over top of us doing thirty miles an hour above the speed limit. We could only guess at how ugly it was going to get with increased volume on the holiday Monday.

So, for our ride home, we chose instead a route parallel to I-75 — US 68 south from Findlay to Yellow Springs, Ohio. It could easily have been a parallel universe.

Once you leave the hair-raising adventure that is the Interstate, you step back in time to how road trips used to be in the good old days. Two lanes separated by yellow lines. Mile after mile of rolling cornfields all turning golden now that the corn has been harvested. Red barns and clapboard houses. Herds of black and white cows. Vegetable stands. You slow to 45 MPH through occasional small towns and marvel at how anyone found these particular spots on all of God’s good green earth to be congenial enough to plunk some houses and a gas station and actually live there.

On the back roads, you have the luxury of looking at scenery. The landscape is not punctuated by fast food restaurants and service ramps. Your shoulders relax a little when you realize that there is so little traffic. For long stretches at a time, you might be the only car on the highway.  You can actually see for miles ahead instead of staring into the back of a semi ‘s “How’s my driving?” query.

There is a whole different etiquette to country driving. Drivers going faster than you are will adhere to the old rules of the road, passing when it is safe to do so and getting back into their lane as soon as possible without giving you the finger. You give tractors and farm equipment and Amish buggies a wide berth and you never, ever honk or flash your lights to get them to move over. Maybe they give you a friendly wave.

Off the Interstate, it all looks kind of like my first grade reader with its watercolor illustrations of mother and father and Dick and Jane and Sally all smiling and Spot riding along in the back seat with his spaniel ears flapping out the window. You expect to see Farmer Brown wearing his overalls and a big red neckerchief, waving to you from his front porch and hoping you’ll stop in to buy some carrots and wax beans and brown eggs. He doesn’t concern himself with kale or Heritage beets.

You gradually arrive in increasingly urban surroundings, disappointed that your rural reverie is over. You wonder if you might have reached home faster if you had taken the Interstate. But at least you can pry your knuckles loose from the steering wheel.

And this brings us back to our metaphor. In his poem, The Road Not Taken, Robert Frost wrote, "I took the one less traveled by, And that has made all the difference." So true. We both said, "That was such a nice trip home!" Take that Interstate.