Aug 20

First day of classes

First day back, and all is well. Empty, but well. There’s not a lot going on in our building, by design. Safety measures and all that. May it ever be so, and may it continue to go well because of it. With the quiet day there isn’t much to discuss. May it ever be so, and may that continue to go well, too.

The cats had a grand week, as ever. Phoebe is working on her selfie skills:

Poseidon is working on his save-you-from-falling-off-the-cliff pose. He’s really selling it with the facial expressions, if you ask me.

We went for a bike ride. It was one of the usual local routes. And the part I would like to mention here, briefly, took place just before this photograph:

There was a blip in one of the recording apps. (What? You don’t document your bike rides on three different tools?) On one segment I hit 11,309 miles per hour. Now, you might think that mach 15 is fast on a bicycle, but if you’ll note that the red line is the path of travel and the blue one is the recorded mile in question.

Fitting, I suppose, that I was roaring by Airline Road at the time.

I’ve been down that road. It’s neat, but it has nothing to do with planes or airports.

Last night, on the front porch, I got a haircut.

I was well overdue. But who wants to go sit in a barber shop just now? So I bought some trimmers online and we watched a video and read the instruction booklet and she went to work. She didn’t sign up for it, but she was game to try it. She was also terribly susceptible for the “NO! NOT THAT MUCH!” joke.

For a first haircut, she did a great job. (I fidget a little, so any problems with the styling are mine.) And after two more haircuts those trimmers will have paid for themselves. The photos are free, and who knows how wacky hair styles will be by then.

Aug 20

To get even with yesterday

This was yesterday. We had a bike ride and I worked at it a little bit and sweated and probably made some straining faces in-between big gasping breaths and managed to stick on her wheel for a while.

And then I passed her and she had to chase me for a change. She, of course, was able to do this effortlessly.

And when I got in I did the thing I’ve been meaning to do for a few days now, but I’ve gotten a little negligent and forgetful about for some reason. I cleaned and lubed my bicycle chain.

It’s a simple process, you take off the computer, flip the bike over, wipe all the gunk and grease off the chain and the put a little drop of this on the links and then spin it around the cassette on the big gear and the little one, enjoying the smell and the satisfaction that you’re ride will at least be quiet the next time you get outside.

We’re going to learn. Eventually. Today will not be that day.

This was my biggest contribution to the internet today. I think you’ll appreciate it, as well.

More on Twitter, and check me out on Instagram as well.

Aug 20

Day hiking in the Deam

Welcome to August, the time when we all try to remind ourselves that days are inconsequential, but months matter, somehow. How are things going where you are? That sounds rhetorical, but I mean it. How are things? Parents are trying to figure out how school will work. Fans are wondering if they’ll see their sports this fall? People are trying to figure out if they can just get their mortgage or rent in on time. Some people are working through a lot, and isn’t it funny how inconsequential some of those things can seem if the big ones are up in the air?

So I hope you’ve been taking a little time for yourself here and there. Mediation. Coffee. Walks. Reading something fun. Dancing sillily to music. Exercise. Whatever it is you do, do a little more of it. You probably deserve it. And if you think you don’t, you definitely do. This is August.

And since it is also Monday, we check in on the cats. The cats are good!

Phoebe literally can’t even. Did we do this one right?

Poseidon, in a rare moment of cuteness takes his break from being a little pill.

I’m kidding. He’s about 50/50. Or 40/60. Definitely he’s 30/70, cute.

We went for a walk in the wilderness yesterday. We saw one family on the trail. They were hiking back up out of the ravine as we were just beginning to work our way down into it. We each stopped, and the mom and the dad and all of their kids put on masks. We put on our masks. And then we all made a wide berth for one another. I waved at one of the kids, and it is obviously too early for all of that for her. Maybe I should have complimented her mask.

The mother and I both worked on smiling with our eyes. It’s probably past due on that, at least for me.

We were in the Charles Deam Wilderness, which gives you 36 miles of trails for hiking, backpacking, and horse riding. I took pictures of some of the humble undergrowths.

It’s a scenic hardwood forest, and the up-and-down terrain is probably beautiful to explore in the autumn. If you’re on the right part of it you can get some really nice views of the nearby lake. We happily crossed a few streams in our four-mile hike.

This was declared a wilderness in 1982 based on some legislation from the 1960s and today makes up 12,000-plus acres of the Hoosier National Forest.

It’s yet another one of those places where we say “Native Americans lived here” and, also, “It was originally settled in 1826.” Clearly people had been there before. It’s got good game, even today, but the agriculture was a bit hardscrabble.

Finally, when the Great Depression hit and the economy turned in this area people were forced out. The government bought up the abandoned land and the Civilian Conservation Corps moved in to return it to a wilderness, control erosion and make it a recreation area.

You can still see some of the old home structures in the wilderness, though we didn’t run across any yesterday. As noted, it’s a big area, which will be nice for return visits and new discoveries.

We did see a few horseshoe prints, even on the trails were horses aren’t allowed. Silly horses, they should know better and read the signs. We only heard and saw a few other people the whole time we were out, and most of them at our turnaround point, at a little cave on the top of the ridgeline. It was a bit underwhelming, as caves go, but I’ve been spoiled by some large examples over the years.

We found this tree on our way back out.

Let’s take a closer look at that tree.

I got photobombed.

There are six other trails to try out, as well, and I’m sure they all feel different in the passing seasons.

The cleanup has been an impressive one. There were 81 farms out here, and corn and hay on the ridges. Given the topography and crops it was probably a terrific example of ten-year land.

Because of today’s special rules of the wilderness act, the only work done today is trail maintenance. So if you know what you’re looking at, it’s an interesting place to see nature making it’s slow and sudden comeback.

In some areas the growth is thicker than others. It’s a space rehabilitating itself.

The Deam Wilderness, I’ve just learned, is the biggest wilderness in the lower Great Lakes region with almost 13,000 acres. For comparison, Illinois has eight wilderness areas but they’re mostly a few thousand acres each.

And, finally, a tree we found in one of the creek beds.

When you’re down in that area with the creek beds, and the hills on either side of you, you have a great sense of being alone. Even in a socially distanced world it felt like a fine dose of quietude.

Jul 20

Wednesday, right? Right? Right.

Just two Zoom calls today, which make something like 45 for the week. One was a big meeting where my task is to be a listener, and to make sure my microphone is muted. On the underside of that meeting is a Slack channel subtext, where my duty is to make the occasional bad joke.

I’m the right person for it.

My second call was after lunch, and for the life of me I thought it was set for next week. So calendar reminders saved me today. I’m still holding strong on days of the week, but I have to make direct efforts to keep the proper dates in mind. But the calendar reminded me that today was the day. This is an important tidbit for you to know!

I got to have a chat with an old friend about pedagogy and Zoom sessions, architecture and video. We are so meta! We might also back ourselves into some sort of project together. Who knows? That’d be fun.

He’s returning from sabbatical this term, so welcome back to him.

We went for a bike ride this evening. We went out easy and then I turned it up once.

This happens a lot. I say, I am going to ride in her pocket and not go out and do something silly. It was very humid and we agreed that our goal was to drink all the water on the ride. And then we got to a place where there was one of the sorts of short punchy hills I can get over pretty well and I created a gap. So we go on like that for a while, until she decides to drop me, which she does promptly.

I began ducking into curves and grinding through rollers and eventually I caught her wheel again. She let me pull for a while before coming around the left and settled into a high cadence. She dropped me for real. I was having a good ride, but she was enjoying a better one. Somehow, near the end, she caught me again. She’d taken a detour for fun and still found it in her catch back on as she doubled back. After a gentle two-mile ascent I got her wheel again.

She passed me, one last time, on the final hard 1,200 meters she was

I think she has a motor in her bicycle.

I’m riding in a hard gear and everything!

(That’s not a bad picture for shooting blind and trying to stay upright. But when you crop a tire it looks like a flat, which is a bad omen I’m always hoping to avoid.)

Jul 20

Three backyard pictures

That wasn’t the theme when I started this. I had a weekend photo to use, and a day’s post to pad out. What to do, what to do? There’s always a photo post waiting to happen.

And with three new photos and a slow Tuesday with few accomplishments to point to, I put a little branding tag on the pics. Time to try something new, I figured, and then I uploaded the photos.

And that works! Three photos! I can write around that! Look at the text layer! How over-done and gimmicky! I wonder how long that will last! Or how long it will be before I change the font? Or the size? Or I have to work around a picture with poor negative space.

Which was when I realized: I took all of these pictures in the backyard. And, if the backyard wasn’t somehow the height of adventure recently, that’d probably mean something. But, alas.

We have a little tree with a lot of character:

And we have other trees that are just casual foreground. This photo is really about how you can still see at almost 10 p.m. this time of year.

It’s my favorite part of the place, easy.

That was earlier this evening. And this was soon after. Darkness had fallen, we stood out in the yard to look up. The International Space Station was soaring overhead.

There are five people up there. I get to see it occasionally, and that never gets old. We are up there.

Space still excites people. Excites me, anyway, even if it is just from the backyard.