Driving and Biking in the Big City

Archive for July 2013

Ode to an afternoon bike ride

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Dry bike rideA bike-riding fool in Houston has to pick her times to ride wisely during these 100-degree days. Too early in the morning, and it’s still terribly humid and potentially mosquito and gnat-filled. Too late and it’s easy to talk myself into a cool drink instead. So today, I headed out after church in the brightest and driest of suns. I survived and actually enjoyed the challenge of a workout made twice as exhilarating by the heat.

Ode to an afternoon bike ride

The sun on my shoulders; the wind in my face.

A dried out pinecone explodes beneath my tires

Like a firecracker on the Fourth of July.

Today’s colors are dust and tan; smoke and sand.

The few birds are fiery red like sparks in the bush.

Orange butterflies flash across the sky like flames from a campfire.

My first sign of sweat starts as a mustache across my lip,

And I feel a solid trickle down my spine.

My towel is a squeegee to my sweaty palms.

The katydids sing their dry, arid song –-

Now softer, now louder, now gone.

I dodge the sunlight for patches of shade

As refreshing as an icy drink of water.

I slog through one especially long bright path

And carry the weight of a day at 100 degrees.

I feel more like a kid in the Texas heat

Than any other time or season.

The stickiness is forgotten,

My mind goes blank,

And time is endless.

8.2 miles, 43 minutes, four bunnies and one lost sweat towel


Written by commuterchroniclesdbh

July 28, 2013 at 1:30 pm

Fine art of waiting patiently

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A commuter waits patiently or else.

  • Or else she causes a car wreck.
  • Or else she speeds and gets a ticket.
  • Or else she misses a turn because she’s weaving in and out of traffic.
  • Or else she gets a major case of road rage.
    • And she dies.
    • Or kills someone else.

Waiting was not my strong suit until I became a mom. Then, I learned. First there was that nine months of waiting. Then there was waiting at the doctor’s office. Then waiting for class to get out, for scouts to be over, PTA meetings to be held, choir, music lessons, dance lessons for football, swimming, basketball, karate,

hall-18-in-the-darkSo this week, when my husband went into the hospital and I became his nurse for the week, I brushed off my waiting patiently skills and dug in for the long haul. I wasn’t commuting so much, but boy was I waiting.

I have books on tape, always, but waiting requires a certain type of book. Something light but interesting. Something that doesn’t require much concentration. Janet Evanovich is best but I’m all caught up and landed on Maeve Binchy’s “A Week in Winter.” Little bit of popcorn and you don’t mind the rewind. My usual psychological mystery with a sadistic serial killer is not recommended when I’m trying to keep my mind in a happy place. And, if I want to be somewhere in my mind that is outside of the crowded waiting room, I plug in and listen to a download at higher than usual volume.

Of course, I always have a real book, too. So I bring that along in case I want to hear my surroundings while I’m waiting patiently. I’d already sampled Dennis Lehane’s “Live by Night” so I knew it wasn’t as dark as his usual. It’s reading quickly and keeping my mind occupied.

Then, I’m a gamer. So I also come prepared with a game or two and a really sharp no. 2 pencil. Used to be crosswords but I’ve been on this Sudoku binge for a while. I can get off on computer games a bit but still prefer a solitaire adventure like mahjong. I play until I master a game or reach my personal ceiling and get bored. Sudoku and mahjong still keep me interested but I throw in a crossword and a jumble some days. In my olden days of newspaper writing, I never started my day without finishing the crossword.

My bag is also filled with some personal comfort items. A water bottle. Cough drops because I’m inclined to get a tickle. Peanut butter crackers to keep me from getting hungry and then wildly out of control. Extra contacts, glasses, etc., etc.

So, I was pretty prepared to wait patiently through almost anything. Then, the day came when it was “hep, hep, move lively or lose your chance.” Time for some unexpected tests. And, I found myself in the bowels of St. Luke’s Hospital with nothing but my own mind as entertainment. No cell service, no iPad, not even my trusty Sansa for my own downloads. No purse, no water. Nothing.

Breathe in, breathe out.

When I was a kid and couldn’t rest, I made up stories and continued the next day from the same point where I left off. These were stories based on my favorite television of the day like Sky King, Route 66. Do we see an early inclination to my later days as a commuter?

IngerStevensSkyKingWhen I took my first job at age 14 as a telephone solicitor, I was to take a grown up name to sound more official on the telephone. I chose the blonde Swedish beauty, Inger Stevens and was Mrs. Stevens for my calls. What? Who could be more unlike this brunette from a country town in Texas? Of course, my very favorite was Ann Margaret, and even I was smart enough, if not sophisticated enough, to realize that pseudonym would never work.

Breathe in, breathe out.

Close my eyes and rest my head in the corner of the room. I was down the hall from the crowded waiting room and glad to be out of the hubbub, but I couldn’t let my imagination get away from me. Deeper breaths, clear my mind.

The kid in bed would hang on to the last word of the story like a mantra, “go to sleep NOW.” Now, now, now. Why is it taking so long? Is he comfortable? Can I hear what they are saying? Now, now, now. Be still, be quiet.

I’ve been known to have a bit of hospital phobia dating from my days in the emergency room of Royal Oak Beaumont.Back then I could be a maniac, very demanding. Push that experience entirely out of my mind. now, now, now.

Breathe in. Stand up. Stretch to the ceiling. Step, step, step, rock back, around. Step, step, step. A little modeling I learned in junior high PE class.

Absolutely nothing is creeping into my mind. Now,now, now.

And then it’s over. All is fine. Until the next time when I’m forced to wait. Alone. With just myself. Breath in. Remove fingernails from ceiling. Keep moving.

Sent from my iPad