The quiet parts are always the best parts

As a friend of ours says, I have been underneath the weather. Sinuses. Allergies. Head cold. Some combination therein. All three. Who knows. I think I might have been running a slight fever at times yesterday. I didn’t feel quite as bad today.

I had an early lunch, mid-day cuddles with kitties, read a bit. it was relaxing.

This afternoon the tree people came by to chip up the brush from last weekend’s storms. They were fast, efficient. It’s a time-is-money business, one supposes. And it was just the first step in a process that will later break my heart. I’m dreading all of it.

Later I visited a store, a mom-and-pop shop. I’ve been in four times in the last year. The first three times I met the wife, who is very kind and struggles with the technology. Today I walked in and … no one was there. I walked to the back office. No one. I walked back up to the checkout counter to make sure no one was in a heap. No one.

The door was unlocked. No signs of struggle, other than the open sign sitting on the floor. I stood there for a minute or two, long enough to pull out my phone to see the time, and wonder how long I should stand there before beginning to call people.

I saw a camera just above the cash register, and if it is real, there are probably others, so there’s that.

And then the restroom door sloooowly cracked open and a man walked out.

“It’s always a risk, picking a time to go to the bathroom.”

He needs a BRB sign, and a door lock. I have, after all, been told by Republicans that the country has gone to hell. Over and over.

Anyway, he seemed like a nice fellow. We conducted our brief business and I left for my next stop. I hit up a Walmart. I don’t go to Walmart that often, or any great big store, really — nice, medium-sized grocery store is my biggest shopping experience these days. So this isn’t snobby. Probably it is my routine. Simon Pegg should set his zombie sequel at Walmart. Any Walmart. Maybe the most charming and disconcerting thing about the store is that customers are exactly the same, everywhere in the country. They are out and about, living the lives Springsteen sings about.

“Born to stand in the crosswalk, as a family, staring up into the sky as if looking for an eclipse for 45 seconds” is a great song. Everyone thinks of the classic, “Dancing at the end caps.” And, of course, “Sad eyes can’t see that I’m in the way of everyone” is an underrated deep cut.

And then I visited the medium-sized grocery store. Aisle one for granola … they’ve apparently stopped carrying one variety I prefer. Aisle two for raisins. The produce section for strawberries. In, out and on to the car wash. Ahhh, the finer points of life.

When I got home I set out for a bike ride. It’s been two weeks — our recent trip, the weather, the aftermath, being underneath the weather — and I have lately realized that if I don’t go, I can’t ride.

And maybe, I rationalized, this will help my nose and cough.

I set out around 6 p.m., by which time everyone has gotten to where they need to be and all of these country roads are free of traffic and it is quiet. There’s just the breeze, a perpetual headwind, the humming of the wheels, and the creaking parts of my rusty old bike. I love that feeling, those minimal sounds. Well, maybe not the creaking my bike makes.

Even the cows were quietly appreciating the silence.

This was the big traffic jam, and not the biggest tractor I saw.

Not too long after that, I had a flat. Rear tire, and there was no inflating the dead tube to limp home. So there I stood, swapping out Contis, pumping, and failing at pumping, until I was finally able to get a little air in the new tube. I need to add a mini-pump to the things I need to buy. Mine is almost 12 years old, I guess, and it’s served it’s purpose. Hand pumps fit in the pocket. They are small; they are light. Most won’t fully inflate a new tube. What you get is enough air to ride carefully home. And a good bicep workout. This one has become a frustration. It seems now I have to hold it just so to get any air into the tube at all. Just another thing on the list of old and worn out things I need to replace. It’s a list that’s now far too long.

The scene of the re-inflation … sort of.

So now I’m shopping for a pump. If anyone has any recommendations, or wants to buy one for me, the key features are they must fit in a jersey pocket, and it shouldn’t make me want to quit riding bikes when I have to use the thing.

Anyway, have a great weekend! Riding and swimming and cleaning around here. Back to normal next week.

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