“But I like my old bell!” She whimpers. “It’s purple.”
“Your old bell is broken, and I couldn’t find another purple bell.” I’m tightening the nut on the little plastic clamp that attaches a brand new black-and-silver bicycle bell to her handle bars. She’s been riding a two-wheeler for a couple years now, but occasionally takes a tumble. The most recent of these encounters with the pavement saw casualties that included a scraped knee, a road-rashed elbow, and a little purple bell that was crushed beyond simple repair. “This new bell is a little bit more sturdy and shouldn’t break as easily as the last two.” I add.
“I don’t want a new bell.” She pleads. “Can’t I just keep the purple one?”
“No.” I argue. “It’s broken.”
She is holding the corpse of her purple bell in her hands, turning it over and over, inspecting it. “So?” She shrugs.
“It doesn’t work.”
She tries pushing the lever that would, under ideal circumstances, make it ring a loud and clear chime heard across the neighbourhood. The plastic bit is squeezed between the mangled metal parts and the same lever grudgingly gives a few millimetres emitting a gurgle of frail metallic clinks before sticking in the new position and refusing to move any further. “So?”
“You need a bell that works.”
“You’ve been riding a bike for two years now?” I stop my work and look at her. “You know what a bell is for, right?”
“To tell people I’m coming?” She suggests, hesitating.
“Yeah.” I sigh. “I don’t want you to hurt someone, okay?”
A reloaded post is a short-and-sweet collection of the (sometimes-interlinked) randomness from my recent life, universe and everything else in between. They would be more detailed but they tend to be events lacking in either (a) details or (b) depth; Or lacking in the time to more fully record them. Enjoy.
Summer arrived in a flash. Remember how I was complaining that winter was hanging on just a wee-tiny-little-bit too long? Yeah. Well, it disappeared overnight one day about a week and a half ago and summer arrived in a burst of oh-my-gosh I-need-to-change-my-snow-tires-before-they-melt-in-this-heat kind-of panic.
The New Purple Bike
Luckily Claire was prepared. A couple weeks ago we found our way over to United Cycle and she became the proud owner of a brand new bike.
We’ve never been particularly cheap about bikes, but the last bike we bought her was a Sears special and it was never really intended to last her more than a couple seasons. She learned to ride on that little princess-adorned hunk-o-junk though, and we put it through the ringer in terms of modifications, crashes, and generally poor maintenance. And it became very apparent that, well, the cool winter weather must have shrunk it or something because Claire just didn’t fit on it anymore.
The new bike is something more of an investment. She’s just-barely-big-enough to fit it with lots of room to grow. And it’s something of a punch-in-the-dad-face of growing-kid-ness to see such a big-kid bike sitting in our house and knowing that it belongs to my — *sniff* — little baby girl.
Fences, Gates, and Green Paint
The kids have been bugging me for over a year now. And when I write kids — plural — I mean my single child plus her co-conspirators next door. We lucked out on our street in the last couple years. The two families who moved in (a) right next door and (b) two doors down are all lovely people with kids just right around Claire’s own age. They play together, hang out together, and…
Well, the problem with how we built the fence a couple years ago was two-fold: (1) our gate was designed to keep everything out and has not aged well, becoming almost impossible for me to open unless the stars are aligned and the humidity is just right, and (2) the original neighbors did not build a gate, so to get to their backyard one needs to walk all the way around the front of the house.
None of them let me forget that I offered.
The kids hatched a plan: build a set of stairs and a slide over the fence so they could go visit. I hatched a slightly more modest and realistic plan: cut a hold in the fence so they could climb through… and of course, none of them let me forget that I offered.
So, one Saturday morning about a week ago I got out the tools, got out the paint, and (first) disassembled and then rebuilt the gate so that it works properly and (second) used the extra lumber from the gate to cut, trim, and build a kind of portal in the fence between the two yards. And since the two houses next door never actually built a fence between them, voila! Three yards — and three sets of kids — are suddenly interconnected for the summer.
Of course as soon as spring-slash-summer hit soccer started. So I’ve been playing the dutiful soccer dad, attending every practice and capturing priceless moments of my not-exactly-competitive daughter — um — participating in a team sport. I think she got her athletic ability and interest from her dad, if you know what I’m saying.
Double Running Man
Well, at least her dad-as-a-kid. My athletic interest has me running epic runs these days. I’ve run a couple of races, one for each of the last weekends:
First… a pretty little bedroom community just a gnat’s breath to the North of Edmonton, the City of St. Albert played host to the RunWild race series on May 5. I had found myself registered in the half-marathon, and had been actively maintaining my training for that race over the last few months.
Then summer happened. No, really. All in one day. It’s as if on Friday morning we were thinking about how great is was going to be when the snow finally disappeared and spring arrived. On Saturday we were in shorts, doing yard work. And on Sunday — race day — we were full-on in Summer, having skipped Spring altogether.
The consequence was multi-fold. The race course, which was meant to be a relatively flat run through the river-creek trail system that bisects the City, was flooded. Really flooded. So much flooded in fact that I was surprised to have seen a map of a creek on Google Maps when I loaded it up to find out the name of the lake we had run beside that morning. It was not a lake, obviously. And because of the flooding they had diverted the route up and into the neighbourhoods adding a multitude of more hills than I was expecting.
It was also hot… the hottest weather we’d run in for six months, in fact. It was even warmer than my December run through the streets of Las Vegas.
I ended up with a modest time of 2:08, a very nice finisher medal, and a goodly case of heat-stroke to boot.
Less than a week later I found myself at the start line of yet another race. After running a half marathon the weekend before, it might seem like a step down to have been prepping to run an 8 km run. But if you are thinking that then it may be because you’ve never tried trail running.
I’ve tried to explain this to many runners at some point, the differences between running mostly on level asphalt versus bushwacking through a trail run. So, this time I took a video, strapping a sports cam to my head and filming my race. It follows:
You may notice that while some of the race is in the open and clear, much of it is through winding, hilly scambles, along dirt paths that occasionally leave you shakey and uncertain, wondering if you are more than a few seconds away from a tumble over a cliff into the river or a mis-step away from some kind of doom.
Which apparently I was… at about 3 and a half kilometers in — you can hear me wince in the video — I caught my foot on some uneven ground, or a root, or something, and rolled my ankle. Adrenaline and lack of proximity to a course marshall meant by the time I hobbled myself to a point where I could throw in the towel, I was feeling well enough to finish. So I ran the last four and a half clicks on a sprained ankle… and of course, regretted it the next day.
Fifty-two minutes was my final time, but I might be out of training for a week or two. *sigh*
An extra challenge this year.
Let the Yard Work Begin
Of course, with a hobbled ankle, yard work and getting the garden planted is going to be an extra challenge this year. It will get done. It’s already started, but turning all that soil is looking a little (ok… a LOT) more daunting than normal.
And the Winner is…
And on one final note… drum roll! Karin won an award at work: a Presidents League prize for general dedication and hard work. A gift basket, some general honours and a bit of a bonus. Pretty cool. She works hard and deserves it… but then I’m probably biased.