Monday, May 21, 2018

Your one wild and precious life

Who made the world?
Who made the swan, and the black bear?
Who made the grasshopper?
This grasshopper, I mean--
the one who has flung herself out of the grass,
the one who is eating sugar out of my hand,
who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down --
who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes.
Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face.
Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away.
I don't know exactly what a prayer is.
I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down
into the grass, how to kneel in the grass,
how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields
which is what I have been doing all day.
Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn't everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
With your one wild and precious life?
          
 Mary Oliver
The Summer Day

This is the time of year when you are likely to sit through boring commencement speeches. Though there have been some winners—Neil Gaiman, David Foster Wallace, John Waters (A career in the arts is like a hitchhiking trip: All you need is one person to say “Get in” and off you go. And then the confidence begins.)

The above poem reminds me of something one might hear at their graduation, the question:
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
With your one wild and precious life?

Actually graduation speeches are lost on graduates—it’s the parent who can more easily resonate because now they have the rest of their life—one albeit abbreviated compared to a recent grad’s—to figure out what they want to do. Hopefully their kid won’t be coming home to live in the basement and freeload. Hopefully they can save money since they won’t be facing those college bills, yearly tuition that resembles the cost of open-heart surgery (times 4!) They have some time left before disease, old age, other limitations befall them.

At least how I figure it—I’ll be turning 60 this year. I’m thinking about my one wild and precious life—and this is what has motivated me to take up long-distance cycle touring. Regardless of the facts:
1)      I’m poor. I’ve learned that it doesn’t take a lot of $$ to travel, just a lot of chutzpah.
2)      I am a solo woman traveler. This fact alone might be enough to dissuade most people. I go hoping I’ll run into other cyclists and that we can ride together. It happened for 2 days in England. Not at all in Nova Scotia (Maritimes tour). Nevertheless, I wasn’t lonely. Riding can tend to be solitary anyway. If bored I just plug in my iPod and listen to a Podcast. At night in my tent I play Solitaire or read on my Kindle.

The crux of the matter is that once you realize you have a bucket list you also realize you don’t have a lot of time to begin checking things off. That time is now. The time to start is as soon as possible.

That’s why I’m embarking on Scanlandia.


Friday, May 18, 2018

Phone Books

Remember those? Doorstoppers. Booster seats at Thanksgiving. Ten pound slabs of paper delivered every year. If we went on holiday to another town, we’d look up our name in the town phone book—out of curiosity, to see how many other Feebacks there were. Usually none. It was a name from the hoots and hollers of Kentucky. Yet every now and then we’d come across a stray one in North or South Carolina, or Virginia Beach.

I was reminded of the phone book last night while watching a TV show set n the 1970s. THIS IS US, the part about the parents is a time period I’m totally familiar with. I recognize the dishes she uses, the hair styles, and clothes. Then there was the phone book.

I remember having a crush on a boy and looking his name up I the phone book. His parent’s surname. Then I’d guess which one might be him, since there might be two or three with the same last name. Then I’d hop on my bike and ride past his house. I’d make several passes.

I guess today you’d just stalk them on Facebook and Instagram.

Sometimes when bored, I’d read the phone book. I remember a TV show about savants. A guy who memorized the numbers on a whole line of passing trains. Then there was the guy who memorized the phone book. This is how you won contests. This was black and white reality TV.

I can’t tell you the last time I saw a phone book. A number of years ago I saw one sitting outside in the rain—no one bothering to bring it inside.
Image result for telephone book on telephone table

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Kilauea

Hawaii had been in the news lately. There was the unfortunate alert sent out that the island was in imminent danger of attack that proved to be false. And now Kilauea looks to be erupting. The latest report is that 18 fissures have opened up and lava bombs the size of refrigerators might come flying down upon people living in subdivisions in the volcano’s shadow. So this threat is real. There is speculation from pressure building inside that the whole thing might blow.

Which leads me to the thought: perhaps Harvey Weinstein could push a virgin into the volcano’s mouth and appease the fire gods. I read that Pele the mythical fire goddess was both a protector and feared. Either way she was a continual presence among the natives. It was actually television that introduced the idea of indigenous Hawaiians sacrificing virgins to Pele. It wasn’t originally part of the religion.

So putting the two ideas together I came up with a plan: Harvey Weinstein pushing a young woman into the lava center of a volcano. It could be done. It has been done. And, what is one virgin when there are so many? For him there was always more where that came from. An unending line of them.

I read that the eruptions are disrupting air traffic, that it might affect tourism, that folks are worried. They’re taking anti-depressants, eating Spam, finding it hard to sleep at night. Please someone call Harvey Weinstein and tell him to fly over; he can bring his assistant with him. He knows how to divert people, keep them entertained. Perhaps he can stop the lava flows, bring peace to the Big Island. Let’s start a new hash tag campaign #Meinto

Let’s calm Kilauea with all the modern methods at our disposal: sacrificing women, an age-old rite.
Image result for harvey weinstein

Monday, May 14, 2018

NEW EQUIPMENT


 First off, I ordered covers for my shoes for when it rains like crazy—and believe me it will. I discovered on my Nova Scotia tour that once my shoes get wet it takes ages to dry. There’s nothing worse than wearing shoes two days in a row that go squish. No amount of wool socks will keep my feet dry if the shoes are soaking.

After the Grand Rapids cancellation because of ice and snow, I realized I need a somewhat more water resistant jacket. I ordered a Sugoibright yellow jacket off eBay for $11

It’s not waterproof, nothing really is, but it will go a long way in helping to keep me somewhat dry. And, the neon yellow is eye-catching—as in no driver could ever say I didn’t see her! I’m also thinking about other clothes for cold and warm conditions. I’ll probably experience it all. Plus mosquitoes and mid-night sun.

Also NEW this year is the back wheel. After my past trips where I broke spokes I knew I needed something with better reinforcement. This new wheel has 36 spokes as opposed to the original one with 28. The new back wheel also had a few more teeth (13-26t to my lowest gear is now 34.). The Torker Interurban Mixte was meant to be a commuter bike and so I had to retrofit it for touring. I removed the compact crank (50/34) and put on a triple crank that bottoms out at 20 (42/32/20). I’m fairly confident I can tackle hills and more.

I have a fairly new chain and Schwalbe Marathon tires installed last fall without a lot of wear.

Here’s hoping—


Image result for vaude rain covers

Friday, May 11, 2018

Scanlandia: A Tour of the Countries Bordering the North Sea




I’m about to jump off a cliff.

After my mind-boggling JOGLE in September of 2016 I’ve been thinking of another trip across the big pond with my bicycle—and what better place to begin than Amsterdam. Holland the land of windmills, dykes, and bikes. Also I knew I wanted to take more time (though, once again, I’ve come up with a mile-intense itinerary).

So beginning June 5, I fly to Amsterdam for a tour of the countries bordering the North Sea. Namely, Netherlands, Germany, Denmark, Sweden, and Norway. Along the way I will hopefully meet up with old friends and make new acquaintances.

Am I nervous, freaked out, tortured by self-doubt? Cha! But I also know that it will be amazing no matter what. On a scale of 1 being dying and 10 being easy rides everyday in sunshine and no rain, then, yeah, I think I’ll find a middle road.

Concerns right now are that I haven’t trained as much as I’d hoped to—what with the COLDEST APRIL in 137 years. But I was able to ride my bike to Milwaukee and back a weekend ago (77 miles each way) in cold and windy conditions. Then this past weekend I went to the Recyclery and worked on my back wheel. Replacing and tightening spokes. Whereupon I discovered my hub was loose. So got all that straightened out—yet, still I’m worried about the strength of my back wheel and overall maintenance. I’m not really a mechanic.

I guess it wouldn’t be an adventure without fear. Fear sharpens the senses and quickens the adrenaline. It reminds me that I’m alive.

This trip knocks a few things off my bucket list: windmills, mid-summer, and maypoles. I’ve always wanted to experience these.

Image result for maypole midsummer

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Flash Contest, deadline May 16th


Image result for flash
Force Majeure: a great and unexpected power. We're looking for the best small things, any form, any content, any fine and wonderful creation.

CONTEST GUIDELINES
Top prize for a single flash $300

Two second prizes $100 each

Deadline EXTENDED: May 16th.

Two ways to enter:

Upload 1 flash (you'll receive an ebook of the prize issue) - $5
Upload 1–3 flashes in a single file (receive a print copy of the prize issue) - $12
Multiple entries are great. Simultaneous submissions are just fine; if a flash is accepted elsewhere, please notify us via a note on the submission within Submittable. Winning flash must not be (scheduled to be) published in print, ebook, or website before August 2018.

All entries considered for publication in Storm Cellar. Contest entries in any number do not violate our one-at-a-time general submissions policy.

What is a flash?

Shorter than 1000 words
Not more than 5 pages
May contain fiction, nonfiction, marks, or images, in any combination
May bend genre, form, brains
We encourage submissions by women, people of color, indigenous, disabled, lgbtq+, and poor authors, as well as members of other under-represented groups. Authors who cannot pay the entry fee, because of financial hardship or unavailability of online payment (PP/card) in their country, should email the editors with the brief statement that they have need so that we can arrange an entry (that they have need, not how); they should send that email from the email address used for their Submittable account and attach their entry as a .docx or .pdf file. Incarcerated authors may mail submissions, postmarked by the deadline, to the address listed on our website, no entry fee required (include someone's email address if you desire ebook delivery).

Contest will be decided by the editors. Close friends, family, current students, and employers of the editors may not enter. While not a member of the CLMP, we strive to achieve a similar level of transparency and virtue.

All proceeds will go to prizes and production costs for the magazine. No fees may be refunded. "Extra" flashes within entries will not be read. We may disqualify entrants on the basis of harassing behavior. Entrants will be notified of their contest outcome by email, on or before June 30, 2018.

Handy link to examples of flash we've printed. Surprise us!


Friday, May 4, 2018

Another Acceptance

A little story with elements of fantasy entitled Missed Connections was just accepted by Eyedrum Periodically

I'll let you know when it appears. So far 4 acceptances in 2018. If you are curious about where to submit your work go to Places to Submit.

also check out rejection letters to famous authors, The Atlantic
Gertrude Stein

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Weezie Walk

Image result for weezie walk weiss hospital garage



In a world filled with bad news stories, let me offer you something different: A story that will remind you of the circle of life—and resilience.

For the past 4 years a goose couple have been making their nest on the rooftop of Weiss Hospital Parking Garage. This is not so unusual. Geese mate for life and have very good memories. If something has worked once they’ll come back to it. I have several friends who do urban gardening on the Weiss rooftop. The administrator for the program has a window that looks out onto the rooftop garden. She and Wally and Linda have gotten to know each other through the years.

Wally is literally a goose whisperer. And, of course, the animals all love Wally because he feeds them. Often I’ll see him returning from Weiss with the most beautiful chicken eggs and Linda offers up produce from her garden starting  . . . soon, I hope. The geese remember Wally from previous years as he and Linda have helped the family get back down to the lake with the hatchlings.

This year, with the help of Weiss, things were even more organized.

She laid 9 eggs and 6 hatched. This was over 2 weeks ago and by the beginning of this week Wally was getting calls from the administrator that the geese parents were getting antsy, they’d start off down the ramp and abort the walk to the lake. Wally would rush over and shoo them back up to their nest. The 1.4 mile walk to the lake crosses major intersections. He’d need a team to help with the migration to the lake.

So this year Wally and Linda put out a call and assembled a crew to “walk” the geese to the lake. You see there is very little food up top and at a certain point they need to all leave and get their goose routine going. We weren’t necessarily evicting them, but assisting them to follow the imprint of nature. Fifteen of us arrived on the 6th floor of Weiss at noon to start the Weezie Walk, named after Mama Goose. https://www.facebook.com/abc7chicago/videos/10155569956951162/

The little goslings followed mommy with their short little legs down the spiraling ramp with daddy hissing if one of us got too close. Ahead of us Weiss security led the parade keeping cars from driving up. Everyone seemed to understand. At intersections drivers got out their phones and rolled down their windows—“They’re so cute!” We heard over and over.

Once in the park we had to be on the lookout for dogs. Again pet owners and cyclists paid attention and stopped. Everyone seemed to grasp this was a sacred moment. We were keeping a family together, ensuring that this herd of geese made it to where they needed to be.

Instinctively the mom and dad knew too—where to go. As if there was a homing device in their brains, they made the right turns and after a while Wally didn’t need to cue them—they were running toward open water!

At the edge of Montrose Harbor there is a 7 foot drop. This might be the gosling equivalent to the Victorian Falls. Plus they had never seen water before let alone grass and cement. Up till now their entire world had been the Weiss rooftop. It was a lot for the little ones to take in at once. Now they would have to jump and just swim. This was literally a LEAP OF FAITH.

Mom and Dad went in first. They turned and waited. The 6 goslings lined up at the edge. Minutes ticked by. Then one, two, three—all six jumped and landed in the cold, cold water (they have a natural oil in their feathers that helps protect them). All of us goose trackers cheered. See you next year Weezie!