“The bicycle is a curious vehicle. Its passenger is its engine.”

The day was already hot at 9:30: it was 85˚. I am not venturing out today. I’m staying  comfortably in my air conditioned house. My feet are cold and I don’t even mind.

Henry is still saving me. The firecrackers last night had him barking, but after the bangs went on for a while, he decided I was safe enough and went to sleep. This morning it was the sound of my newspapers hitting the ground. He barked a few times then went back to sleep secure in the knowledge he had done his job.

I learned to swim when I was little. My Dad taught me. He was the best swimmer I knew. When we stayed in Maine, he’d body surf at the beach. I’d watch from the shore while he waded in a bit and then while he stood in the water waiting for the perfect wave. When it came, he’d dive in at the top and let the wave bring him to shore.

I remember him tossing me in the ocean. I was little, and I thought it was swim or die even though he was right there with me. I swam. From then on I was a swimmer.

Learning to swim, to ride a bike, to roller skate and ice skate were high points for me. I was good at most of them, but I never was a great ice skater. I could manage to keep my ankles upright and to skate backwards, but I never hit the heights I imagined I would. I saw myself gliding across the ice, my leg stretched out behind me in a ballet move, my arms and hands making and breaking a circle in front of me as I glided on the ice. It was beautiful, but it was imaginary. The truth was I’d probably fall if I dared to try to skate on one leg. I knew my limitations.

I could ride my bike with no hands. It took a while to learn. First I tried riding one-handed. When I mastered that, I tried no handed. On the way to mastering no-handed, the handlebars would turn, and I’d have to grab them or I’d fall. I used to keep my hands close to the bars just in case. Finally I was able to shift my body to the right place to keep my balance. I’d hold my arms straight out. Later, I’d just let them hang next to my body. I thought I looked cool and nonchalant.

My niece bought her son a two wheeler without training wheels. His big adventures are about to begin.

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10 Comments on ““The bicycle is a curious vehicle. Its passenger is its engine.””

  1. Caryn Says:

    Hi Kat,
    Good dog, Henry! Keep those evil fireworks and newspapers at bay. 🙂

    I remember learning to ride a 2 wheel bike without the training wheels but I could never ride without hands.
    I don’t remember learning to ice skate. But I remember learning that if I fell on my knees, it was imperative not to sit back on my heels lest I puncture tender parts with the pointy end of the blade.
    I don’t remember learning to swim. It seems I was a water baby from the start. My mother told a story about putting me on the blanket at the beach and going down to wade in the water. She turned around to check on me and found me crawling right behind her into the waves. Big smile on my face, too.
    Funny the things you don’t remember learning how to do because you’ve always done them.

    The dogs and I were out at 6AM but we didn’t go far. Just around the yard for essentials and maybe some bunny chasing. It was already warm then. I’ve been enjoying my artificially cooled living room all day except for a brief trip outside around 11AM. Rocky wanted to spend 20 minutes lying on the rocket hot asphalt sidewalk in front of the house. Piki Dog and I sat in the shade of the walnut tree. It dropped immature walnuts on us the whole time.

    Enjoy the artificial cool.

    • katry Says:

      Hi Caryn,
      He is the loudest guard dog. I swear I’ll have a heart attack when he all of a sudden barks.

      They didn”t sell bikes with training wheels when I got mine, and I’m glad. The kids who later got training wheels on their bikes took far longer to learn to ride. I got quite good at no hands riding.

      I used to grab the side of the rink to pull myself up off the ice. I’d slide over on my butt and grab it. I didn’t mind falling the ice as much as I did falling on the sidewalk or street. The street usually hurt, and I’d get a scrape.

      Henry did go out for a couple of minutes. He ran into the back yard where I couldn’t see him from the door. I think he is pooing there as he no longer does it on the grass close to the steps. Gracie used to go in the same area.

      Stay cool!

  2. olof1 Says:

    I’ve just updated windows ten because a sign said it would work so much better 🙂 Took almost four hours and ended up by me refusing most of what the update had to offer 🙂 🙂 I can’t write on my screen so that was a no, I really don’t want to talk to my computer so I said no to that too. I also don’t like them to save every single site I’ve been to so they can adjust the commercials to my taste and Why should I let them keep track of where my computer is? It is so old that if it would be stolen they would regret taking it and deliver it back to me 🙂 🙂 🙂

    It was almost as cool here today as yesterday but the wind was a bit stronger. Quite nice to be honest but the heat will return already tomorrow so it will be back to sleep on the sofa the next week 🙂

    I was opposite to You, I was quite good at ice skating but rather useless on roller skates. I never really got the hang of it and suddenly everyone stopped using roller skates. It started again a few years back when the roller blades came but I think they too are gone now.

    Have a great day!


    • katry Says:

      I liked Windows until I got used to my Mac. I don’t think I’d ever go back to a Window’s operating system. I probably don’t remember most of it anyway.

      It is already up to 88˚. I don’t know if it is supposed get any hotter. The heat is predicted to be 66˚ tonight which would be a great temperature for sleeping.

      I loved the feel of the roller skates on the soles of my feet even through my shoes. It always felt strange walking just after I took the skates off.

      Have a great evening!

  3. Bob Says:

    Learning to swim and to ride a bike are a kid’s rights of passage. It’s the beginning of freedom from our parents and builds our self esteem. My son learned to ride a unicycle when he was ten or so and gave up on it as soon as he mastered the device. He then moved on to a skateboard. Neither of which I had no desire to try.

    The temperature hasn’t quite reached the century mark yet today, but it’s still hot outside. We went to Costco earlier to pick up some toilet paper and other things and then went to try a new Chinese restaurant in the part of Richardson that has become a “Chinatown”. This is something I never thought I would ever see in Texas. Asian immigrants have created a booming telecommunications business in Richardson.

    While sitting in my air conditioned condo, I began reading a book called “God Save Texas” by Lawrence Wright. In the first chapter he traces the three major oil and gas booms that made Texas what it is today. The last one is drilling for natural gas and oil in the Barnett Shale using hydraulic fracking and horizontal drilling to extract the oil. These discoveries are the reason for our cheap gas prices today. During the previous oil bust in the 1980s bumper stickers appeared with the following message, “Please, God, Send Me One More Oil Boom. This Time, I Promise Not to Piss It Away.” At least there’s a huge amount of cheap gas and oil in the Barnett and the Permian basin to keep us going for the rest of our lives. It made me think “Please God, tell me that President Trump is just a bad nightmare. I promise when I wake up to vote Democratic every election”. 🙂

    Excerpt From: Wright, Lawrence. “God Save Texas: A Journey Into the Soul of the Lone Star State.”

    • katry Says:

      I am with you. Neither of those interest me as I’m sure I’d hit ground and break a bone or two. I know the unicycle depends on balance but I was good at when I was young. I did mater no hands on my bike.

      I like to eat in Chinatown in Boston, especially Dim Sum, but there are plenty of good Chinese restaurants outside the city. Many have lunch buffets, a great reason for going.

      I wish your promise could come true. This is a nightmare of monumental proportions. Every day seems to get worse. I can’t even listen to his voice. When he speaks, I mute the TV.

      Gas prices are different all over the country. Ours is about in the middle. I remember during the gas shortage of the Ford administration there was a bumper sticker which said, “Use plenty of gas and freeze a Yankee.”

      • Bob Says:

        Gas prices are different across the country because of local taxes. During the oil embargo in the 1970s a bumper sticker read, “Nuke their ass and steal their gas”. Today there is more proven oil and gas reserves in the U.S. than in Saudia Arabia or Russia. Most of it is in shale requiring new technologies to get it out of the ground. Production in the Permian Basin has doubled in the last five years, to 2.4 million barrels a day, and the break-even cost of a fracked well has plummeted to as low as $25 a barrel.

        Now Americans have the freedom to buy the biggest pickup trucks to guzzle all that new found crude oil. OPEC be damned. 🙂

      • katry Says:

        Despite a reputation as a heavily taxed state, Massachusetts is not in the top 10 but has the 18th highest tax rate. New York is actually first.

        The governor just signed a bill raising the minimum wage to $15.00 an hour. I do like loving in Massachusetts.

      • Bob Says:

        I think it’s great to have a minimum wage $15 an hour. Unfortunately, MacDonalds and other minimum wage employers are working feverishly to build robotic stores which will require very few employees.

      • katry Says:

        But until they do, they have to pay $15.00 an hour!

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