I don't suppose when Thomas Wolfe wrote You Can't Go Home Again there's even the remotest chance he was talking about the shower in my folks' house. But, as far as showers go... it's reason enough.
To be honest, I can be certain he wasn't talking about that shower since the house wasn't constructed for another decade after he wrote the book... And I'm pretty sure it was yet another decade before the shower in question was added when the basement was finished. And it was a fine shower for years. The hot water tank was fifteen feet away, so hot water was plentiful and right at hand. None of that long warm-up time. But it was dark and rather, shall we say... compact.
I can be even more certain he wasn't referring to the shower at my in-laws' house, since it wasn't built until late in the 1970's. Not to be the sort to complain, but water pressure is just not its strong suit.
Normal people go off to college and are bothered by the communal showers. I, on the other hand, was thrilled. Lots of room. LOTS of water. No one complained if I took an extra shower during the day.
Then I got my first apartment. My very own place. My very own shower! Oodles of hot water. Bright white tile on the walls. The next apartment had a horrible bathroom. But the shower worked well. And the same with the next apartment. It was an OK shower. Nothing to write home about, though.
I knew when it came time to buy our house that choosing the right shower would be crucial. It would be a costly mistake to choose poorly. We wound up with a great choice. A shower stall separate from the tub. The shower head is plenty high so that I don't bump my head on it. There's a wait for the hot water, but once it flows there's plenty.
It looks so innocent... just leaning there against the wall like that...
I know I really appreciated my shower last night. I was rudely reminded the difference between a ride and a workout on the rollers. I'd had the bicycle on the rollers a few times over the winter — mostly verifying that I was in condition to ride after the motorcycle accident. I figured it was far safer to discover a lack of strength in my shoulder indoors with a wall to fall against than on the road.
Last night, however, it was workout time. I programmed the intervals into the Garmin. I queued up the workout music on iTunes. I cranked up the volume. I pulled on my bibs. I tightened the straps on my shoes. I hopped on and rode. Seventy minutes later when it was time to start my cool down, I learned that I had made a little mistake. You see... Having learned this lesson before, I have a collection of workout mixes of varying length... So if it's an 80 minute workout, I've got 70 minutes of GO music and 10 minutes of cool down music. But, due to a computer crash, I wasn't quite sure where I'd put the collections. So, I decided to let the iTunes Genius™ feature take a stab at it. I picked Tom Sawyer, clicked on Start Genius and hoped for the best. Which was fine until cool-down time rolled up on the clock, and I hear the familiar strains of "Take the Money and Run." Right. Like I can ease off for that. The next track was Guns 'n Roses' "Mr. Brownstone" which let me down enough that I was able to walk to the aforementioned shower. Whew. I know where my playlists are now. And I won't lose them again.
But throughout the trauma of the extra song's worth of pain, I knew that my shower was waiting for me. There's a lot of me that has become a Texan. But when I find myself back home in North Carolina, the thing in Texas that I miss most is my shower...
There are a few drawbacks to riding a bicycle 12-14 hours a week. Of course... right now, I'd gladly accept them all. None of them are quite as frustrating as being trapped by the dull ache accented by the occasional stabs of roaring pain in my right ankle.
When you spend a lot of that bike time riding with other people, it can get even worse. They tend to take pictures. Incriminating photos. But photos taken by friends don't even begin to compare to the indignity of professional photos taken at rallies and races...
At first, I thought the idea of getting my picture taken during an event was pretty cool. But then I saw the results. I'm invariably making a horrible face, crusted in salty sweat and usually being passed by a dying turtle. That is not the way I wish to be preserved.
Aside from the photos, there's the lycra. Yes... it is a godsend. Riding a bicycle has probably never been more comfortable. The fabric stretches and conforms so that it doesn't get in the way. No seams under sensitive bits to chafe. No secondary rubbing as your leg moves past the saddle. But whoa be unto the children who are forced to see us when we stop at convenience stores for refills and discharges...
Heaven forbid, by the way, the temperature drops below 40 degrees. Then it's time to put on the balaclava. For a good laugh, pull off your helmet, but leave the balaclava on before going in to buy a Snickers at the store... Or, better yet... make a quick trip into the bank! Other problems begin to surface when the temps drop, as well. The nose begins to trickle non-stop. Masters of the snot rocket have an advantage here... No one will ride within 50 feet of them... The chronic snuffler will likely be covered in fine strings of spider webs by the end of a ride as bits of nasal drip have seeped out and been thrown in the wind. The glove blower will have shiny stripes along his tights — be sure not to shake his hand after the ride...
And then there are the days where you push just a little too hard and a little too long.
"Sure," you'll say. "I'd be happy to join you for a coffee." But you can't manage to swing one leg off the couch. Standing up is completely out of the question.
Amanda shared a little tip the other week. Instead of just collapsing on the floor when you can't walk any more, try a yoga pose like downward dog. It reduces the chances you'll need to kill someone nearby when he asks, "Hey... are you OK?"
There are three certainties in life. Death, taxes and border collies. I have no doubt that A. A. Milne's inspiration for Tigger was a border collie — quite possibly one that had a run-in with a vat of orange paint.
In February of 2002 when Fiona came to live with us, our lives changed. You see... Border collies are not just dogs. For starters, they're clearly masters of the Jedi Mind Trick™. When I first met Fiona, she was covered in poop. Her own poop. To say that she was exhibiting some mild separation anxiety would be sort of like saying that having your own head explode into a fine mist was a mild headache. Amanda swears that the first time she met Fiona, the dog was flinging herself violently into the glass wall of her kennel. Yup. We had no choice but to bring her home.
It took a while to get her into our house, though. Sanity prevailed for a while. We told ourselves she wasn't the right dog. And then we both changed our minds. Well, at least Amanda changed hers enough to let me shoot my own foot off. So I ambled over to the pound to pick her up. She was gone. They told me which rescue group had taken her. So I called them.
Fiona, the WMD, while recovering from a near miss with a squirrel
"Oh... She's already been placed," they said. Well... that's that.
I'd later learn that "she's already been placed" meant she already had a foster home. Three weeks later, Wickett and I met Fiona together at the PetSmart on Parker Road at 75 in Plano, and he pronounced her a worthy sister. Perhaps she remembers that moment and that is why she doesn't actually kill him when he decides to eat out of her supper dish every year or two. Not to say that she won't throw him violently across the kitchen... But, she hasn't killed him.
The second day Fiona lived with us, I was taking her for a walk around the neighborhood. About a mile from the house, a loud car drove by, and she flipped out. She pulled out of her collar and ran. Ran like the wind. This was not good. She has been out of the pound barely 24 hours, and now she was loose again with no ID. Oh no. I remember calling Amanda hoping she would answer and could come home to help me look for her. I remember the looooong walk back to the house and asking folks if they had seen a black dog run by.
What is etched into my brain, though, is the sight of Fiona sitting inside the wrought iron fence in our front yard. Apparently, it seems, that we were keepers in her book. When frightened, she had made a beeline for the house, jumped the fence, and sat waiting for my return.
"What took you so long," those big brown eyes seemed to ask. "I've been worried. And hungry. Don't forget hungry."
Later, we'll learn how Fiona cheated on the quizzes at obedience school and was expelled from agility class...
I'll admit it. I was a texting holdout — but only because the people I interacted with were Instant Messaging junkies. My half dozen or so confidants can or could be found on Google Talk or equivalent most of the day. We shoot back and forth with jokes, snide remarks, photos, banter, cool websites, news and what have you. So, I knew the benefits of text... But why on earth would I want to use that damn tiny keyboard?
Then I started hanging around with cyclists — and thus, spending a lot more time away from a proper computer. Most of our group are fairly techno-savvy and appreciate the benefits of quick, effective communication without the extended courtesies of hellos and goodbyes required in a phone call. So they text. A lot. It took me nearly two years to get sucked into it, but now, I see there's quite a bit of texting in the history on my iPhone.
Dave Moulton posted (and retracted) a well-written piece on the aging hipster the other day. I thought of my over forty friends who are texting addicts. Staring at the small type on the screens and battling the even smaller keyboards on their phones.
But, I know there's hope for the world. Last Friday morning, I got a call from my dear friends Audre & Warren, thanking me for my text inviting them to dinner. I hadn't texted them on Friday morning... but... even though I knew we needed to pack, it sounded like a fine idea. Eventually, though, we figured out they were responding to a text from a few weeks... or maybe months ago... And this is not the first time it's happened.
Which brings me to my point... Perhaps the best way to get a grasp on technology sometimes is to not grasp it at all... Instead, just make sure your friends grasp that you don't get, don't want to get it, and never will get it... You'll probably be happier... I hate texting. Can't stand that stupid small keyboard. But now that they know I can... I'm stuck.
We had a great drive yesterday. Traffic was fairly light. We had to endure a 40 mile stretch around Atlanta where 25% of the drivers were engaged in a competitive sport, 25% were freaked about by those and stuck in the left lane driving 40 mph with their blinkers on, and the rest were just shaking their heads in wonder.
It was nice to see some snow in the last few miles coming in. Even nicer to make it in by 7 pm (eastern time). Amanda's out walking the border collie this morning. Wickett is curled up under my feet, looking pretty happy that he only had to endure a short death march through the snow.
Optimism worked well last night, as the power came back on at the folks' house about an hour before we got there - early enough, in fact, that there was spaghetti waiting for us when we pulled in!
I made two fascinating discoveries this morning. First, my long-lost really nice Coast flashlight was hiding in my jacket pocket. That's the best part of winter. Finding tools, gloves, cash, etc. in jackets. Second, my wool beanie was not in the glove compartment in the truck where it always lives. Uh-oh. I may have to add another wool beanie to the collection before the temps drop later in the week...
I couldn't wait to see it. After the show I was asked if I wanted to go meet some of the performers backstage. Man, I was thrilled. But when I got back there, they were drunk and out of control. Rumpus Cat and Macavity kept feeling up my leg. I tried to leave, but, Rumpleteazer held me down, and... I was raped by Mr. Mistoffelees.
Matt and Trey continue to prove their genius. And even Amanda laughed. But don't tell her I told you so.