Thursday, February 22, 2007

Not Always Like This

Thanks for the good wishes for my hands. I have finally wised up and made an appointment for a therapeutic massage. I can't bear the thought of knitting socks, which is the only small needle project I can imagine right now. So I'm simply choosing to reknit the ripped portions of the orange sweater. When I can find my fourth needle, that is.

(Imagine it Just Like the last picture except without the fifth neck finishing and with half of the sleeve done. It's going backwards in time!) I am musing on the idea of a steeked zip closure. I'm going to master this sweater, I tell you, but perhaps not by the end of the month.

So instead of regaling you with knitting tales, I propose a little snapshot. I'm also thinking about how my household disaster stories cheer other people up, so I'll do my humanitarian bit. It's pouring rain outside -- the kind that goes "tacka tacka tacka" on the windowpanes, leading to thoughts of dry rot and back door leaks and yep boy did I forget to bring my handwash laundry in from the back deck last night -- so I'm thinking of the bike riding I'm not doing today.

But a few days ago, it was beautiful, if cloudy, and I did take a bike ride. After years of hard riding on a used bike, a replacement came home with me because I couldn't face another repair bill on the first one. So the kids and I decided to do our grocery shopping by bike, something everyone enjoys and we feel good about. I was excited about my new bike, especially when I discovered the little bell on the handlebar! We made it to the shopping center relatively happily and with few heart-stopping child-darting-into-traffic moments. A good leg of the trip.

For some reason, a dispute broke out about who was going to fetch the shopping cart, and that sort of simmered off and on for the rest of the trip. Amazing the opportunities for argument in a food emporium.

Shopping done, including a case of fizzy water and a gallon of milk, plus many many canned goods -- still stocking that earthquake kit, a little at a time -- we exited the store and tried to figure out how to pack things in. Thing 1 had the handlebar basket; Thing 3 had borrowed Thing 2's bike (she was sick at home) and had a small basket; I had the trailer and two panniers. Heavy canned things in the panniers, case of water and milk and three grocery bags in the trailer behind and beside Thing 4. Thing 1 had some lighter items in her basket, Thing 3 had three hotly contested boxes of organic macaroni and cheese in his basket.

First, the bigger Things had to argue about whether or not the mac and cheese was going to bounce out. "You know he was jumping curbs on the way here!" "Well, I'm not going to now!!" Bicker, bicker.

Then, as we mounted up, I kicked one pannier off of the rack. Its attachment is slightly broken, and I often forget any kind of bungee cord to help keep it on. Finally we left the shopping center and began the laborious trek home. Really, I live on a nearly flat island, but 100 pounds of groceries and child makes its own hills.

Sure enough, the macaroni and cheese fell out of the basket a couple of times, engendering simultaneous cries of "Wait for meeee!" and "I told you so." After the third drop, we suggested that he lose one or two of them into someone else's bags. The basket on Thing 1's bike was canted at a dangerously low angle -- it's just not fitted for her bike -- so I inherited it.

Along the busiest street we could be riding on, I tried to shift to first gear (remember, pounds and pounds of groceries/old mama) and my chain popped off of the gear wheel. I sent the other two on and sat down to fix the chain. The back of the bike was so pannier-heavy that I couldn't lift it to spin the wheel to help guide the chain on. Also -- no kick stand, so I have to hold up the bike. That was really fun! Finally I got it back on and headed off to chase the others.

I saw them ahead, and shouted at them to wait until I got there. They waited until I was closer, then pulled away again. So I chased them for a few quiet blocks, piteously bleating, "Are you going to wait for meeeeee?" Meanwhile, Thing 4 has been saying, "Baby get out" over and over and over and over.

She fell silent just as I went over a bump, kicked the pannier off again, and heard a "bang!" The trailer tire had popped. I tried to wrestle the pannier back on the rack and noticed at the same time that Thing 4 had taken a box of wrapped quarter pounds of butter, opened it, unwrapped a quarter, and was cheerily munching it.

Some tears were shed by me. I may have said, "I just can't take this."

Thing 1 bravely wrestled the butter away from the baby, rode off to catch her brother and keep him from crossing the Street of Death, the pannier went back on the bike, the trailer just has to deal with its flat tire, and we got home.

Whereupon my spouse met me to say he'd made a doctor's appointment for himself and his possible asthma and didn't I want to hear about it? No, sorry to say, at that moment I didn't.

Later on I did, after trying to get the kids to at least help put the frozen stuff away, wouldya, and I hope he starts feeling better when they figure out what's wrong with him.

So take heart if you haven't had a morning like this lately, or even if you have.


Rain said...

I was reading this thinking 'oh my goodness', until I got to the bit about the butter and snorted juice everywhere. It sounds quite the eventful ride, but one you'll laugh about later.

So glad you're getting your hands sorted out, they sound quite painful.

Morenna said...

Isn't it amazing how adventurous a simple trip to the grocery store can be just by eliminating the car? Whatever you do, don't drop the gallon of milk while riding, though that would certainly get the attention of all the Things.

Katherine said...

I do love the little disaster snapshots. I read the whole thing with my mouth open until I got to the butter bit - man that's funny! Thanks for cracking me up today. : )

K said...

Sounds like a rout. One point for the groceries.

This totally cracked me up! I can SEE and HEAR the four of you. For me the laugh out loud moment came at your "piteous bleating". Got to love a turn of phrase that describes what we moms (at least this one) do on a daily basis.

My absolute favorite books when I was a kid (and, OK, still) were James Herriot's All Creatures series and this reads just like those. Funny, touching, ironic, the implausible comedy of errors...

Thanks for the view into your world Stef.


PS. Thing 2's presence in the story was missed!

meg said...

*snort-giggle* (wiping tea off my monitor screen) you poor thing! I, too, cringed over Thing 4's butter snack :P
I can relate & fully sympathize with the hand pain- orteoarthritis & knitting don't seem to like each other occationally; well-meaning friends are offended by my "glare of death" when they innocently suggest I give up knitting; "What should I take up in it's stead- excessive alcohol or psychiatric drugs? Because I (& my family)would need something to cope with the vacuum!"
Hope you are enjoying the weather- way chilly over this side of the hills these days, but sunny & the air smells wonderful!

amanda j said...

First - knitting socks can be fun you know!

Second - what a trip! I had such fun reading your post and could imagine the whole thing. You are a braver woman than me, that's for certain. I avoid even taking mine shopping in the CAR let alone trying to get us all there on bikes!

benjalo said...

oh yes, I've had mornings like that, and bike rides like that. I expect a few this summer, now that baby can handle the trailer. I'm not sure if he'd survive riding next to the 3yo, though.

suzee said...

Ditto what Rain said - I felt for you, really felt for you, until the butter.

See, the really really great thing about your life, in addition to everything that's obviously great about it, is that YOUR disasters make for great reading. A missed grant deadline...not so amusing. Flat tire/baby eating butter? Freakin' hilarious.

Charity said...

Really, the piteous bleating did it for me, too. But the tears popped up, too, at the thought of you're "I just can't take this." But you can, and you do. Well done, you. We've all been there. :0)

Samantha said...

I'm a bit late on this, but {{{hugs}}} ... you adventure sounds like something that does not need repeating again. You made it home, thats what counts. :)