This week has gotten away from me a bit, and the challenge for today is to see if I can get this "five things" post written and posted before the day is done, and maybe still get a post up tomorrow. It may be wishful thinking, but I've always liked a challenge.
1. I bought a bike. I spent last Saturday trying to ride my old bike and keep air in the tires, neither very successfully. I fell repeatedly and at one point wondered if should even be trying, but I also realized three things: 1). The bike was old and probably not rideable. 2). The gears were stuck somewhere around 8th or 9th gear and I couldn't unstick them enough to get myself up the hill in my driveway. 3). My old, circa 1980 racing style touring bike was probably not the best bike for me to be riding at this particular point in my relearning process. I took the old bike into a shop to see if it could be repaired and came out with a new bike. I realized that my insistence on riding the old bike was actually hampering my progress. The new bike is exactly what I need right now. I've been riding it. At first, I didn't even make it around the block. Apparently riding a bike uses muscles I've neglected for a decade or two. I was terrified of speed because I was still terrified of falling, I couldn't quite figure out the gears so that I was in control of the bike instead of the bike being in control of me, and I wobbled all over the place. At the same time, I was exhilarated and thrilled. I can't remember being so excited about any new project in such a long time. I was out on the bike twice a day every day at the beginning of the week. I didn't go far, but I came home exhausted and happy. As I'd stagger up the steps into my house I was already dreaming of my next ride. Each morning I would go for my normal walk of a couple of miles in length, then get on the bike, mostly because I learned I couldn't walk after riding the bike. This morning however, I went for a whole loop, roughly 2 miles, my first real excursion that I can actually call a ride. I had to get off a couple of time when my legs refused to go further up a hill, and I had to walk the bike up the final stretch of one steeper hill (but still not very steep) after I misjudged my gear shift, lost my footing, and fell into a forced dismount. But I did it. I was terrified coming down the steep hill after the final turn toward my house and I had to fight the urge to ride the breaks, terrified I would have to stop and not be able to, terrified I would kill myself. I can happily report I returned home safely. I climbed the stairs to my office and this computer. I can't wait to ride again tomorrow.
I want to keep riding. I want to fix the old bike and when I get steadier see if I can ride it, see if I want to tackle longer rides. When I was young I thought nothing of going 20 or 30 miles on my bike. I may or may not ever be there again, but I am looking forward to the adventure. Oh, and now that I know I can actually ride even a short loop, perhaps it is time to start alternating walking and riding days.
2. The pink camellia behind the house is doing beautifully since I had the river birch taken down. It bloomed but looked rather sad and I suspected that it was in too much shade. This spring, with the long period of cool weather and the increased sun it has filled out and grown phenomenally. You can see it behind the irises in the photo above. Unfortunately it is right next to the deck, meaning it is right in the middle of the proposed construction site. Finding it a new home, either permanent or temporary, for any plants in this area I want to save (irises and camellias etc) is now becoming a priority.
3. I posted a photo of the Cora Louise peony on Instagram earlier this week. I took another photo this morning, where I thought I captured the color just a little more clearly.
4. Breakfast this morning, or brunch I suppose since it was after 11 by the time I stopped to eat. Avocado, and egg salad topped with hot-smoked salmon on a small, salad sized plate.
5. I went to see the musical Beautiful: The Carole King Story, with a friend last Sunday afternoon and I had an absolutely marvelous time. I love the sets, the colors, the acting, the music, absolutely everything. It was a happy event that made me want to sing and dance and smile for the rest of the day. The show was like sping, something joyous and hopeful and inspiring, just what I needed on a Sunday afternoon. Carole King's album Tapestry came out just before I entered high school, but I didn't really discover her until I was in college, where many of my friends had all her albums. It was a period of great musical discovery for me: Carole King, bluegrass, rock, Talking Heads, King Crimson, early punk, jazz, swing dances, Hindemith and Phillip Glass, and although the musical was about King and her music, not my other explorations, it still reminded me of that time, of that sense of the joy of song of music and the idea that music itself could change the world.
But I also admit that I also struggled afterwards with the fact that I enjoyed Beautiful more than I enjoyed Aida, and in simply writing the above paragraph I have written more about the musical than I did about the opera. I recognize that this struggle reflects some kind of acquired parental, societal, and cultural bias that I don't actually believe has any basis in reality, but which still occasionally raises its ugly head in my consciousness. I did enjoy Aida, but I admittedly didn't love it. I'm not convinced that is the fault of the performance. As I said, the Choral Society gave the best performance I have heard, and the soloists were good as well, but they occasionally were quashed by the poor acoustics of the hall, well all of them except the baritone perhaps. In retrospect it was that problem with acoustics that hampered my experience. I understand why the performance was held in the Civic Auditorium -- they needed the space on stage. And I'm not certain my experience of the sound was shared by those around me, as many of my near neighbors seemed very happy with the performance. I felt the performance often sounded muddied, which is more the fault of the venue than the artists themselves, enough so that I am not eager to go to another opera performance in that particular venue. I'd rather hear sparkling sound at the Tennessee Theater than muddied sound waves at the Civic Auditorium. But then again, I know this is my own bias, the same bias that showed up in the early days of my marriage when I was the one that was constantly turning off the radio when static would invade the airwaves. It never bothered George, but it ruined the sound for me, rendering the musical completely unlistenable. Mea culpa
I have no music scheduled this weekend, but the sun is shining and I shall see friends, spend time in the garden and on my bicycle. Grand adventure always awaits. What delights will your weekend bring?