11–15 of 15 entries from the month of: April 2015

A few bike-to-work tips

April 8th

A friend asked me to put together a few tips for those who may consider riding a bike to work. Here are my recent observations:

1. Pack light. My shoes and lunch are typically the heaviest items in my panniers. I now have a couple pair of shoes at my desk so I don’t have to pack a set daily. I also get everything together the night before so my morning rush isn’t anxiety fueled.

Biking commuting

2. Stock up. I have stocked my desk with favorite snacks and used a driving day to load up my toiletries. I take a shower at work after I arrive, so having everything necessary here and ready to go makes my bags lighter and getting to my desk a faster process.

Biking commuting

3. Take your time. I’ve seen so many things I passed right by in my car. Like the auto detailing shop near the interstate that is half-way painted with a giant orange chicken. It may be a phoenix. There are plenty of old businesses with antique neon marquis too. There’s a “vegans for peace!” hand-painted sign in a Tempe front yard, where wildflowers and leafy greens from an unkempt garden ramble up the sign poles. There are plenty of curious people too. I  nod at the two guards at the federal court building, who are responsible for looking under each car with a mirror as they enter the garage. They’ve started waving back. I cheer the anti-Joe Arpaio protester on the downtown corner, who also holds a hand-painted sign and spends half his time keeping his long hair from blocking the message as he rants. I’ve spoken with more than one bus driver who has a window down and is waiting for the same light, while I’m rocking on my toes in the bike lane. And, I stand next to the same guy each morning on the light rail platform. He rides a bubble gum pink fix gear bike and is covered with retro tattoos. Sadly, he is not overly chatty at 7 am.

Biking commuting

4. Use the light rail or bus line if necessary to make this process work for you. I use the light rail for a few miles in the morning and it gets me to work in time without being totally exhausted. I try to ride the entire 14 miles home because I’ve got more time. This may change with the impending summer heat — but for now, it works. And I’m still not on the highway.

5. Also: bike shorts. They will make your undercarriage thank you. And pump your tires every day. Even a little bit low, it makes the afternoon slog harder. And be patient with your body. It takes a good 2-3 miles before my left hip clicks into a comfortable place. That hip never bothers me otherwise, but it screams first thing in the morning when I get on the bike.

That’s it. I was pleasantly surprised by how fun this change has been. I look forward to getting on my bike come Monday morning and don’t feel a bit of guilt when I want a giant carne asada burrito with all the cheesy, green sauce extras for lunch. And the miles add up; I’ve ridden more than 250 in the last month — almost a full tank of gas.

The only downside is I am pretty much too tired to accomplish anything when I get home, other than find food and make sure Nelson sees the park for a brief walk. There is a specific pleasure in walking around this physically tired all the time. My anxious edge at work is gone and I’m feeling stronger.

~K

Posted in
Arizona, Get Fit
Comments (6)

Easters!

April 6th

A few crafty endeavors for the recently holiday:

Easter crafts

Easter crafts

Easter crafts

Easter crafts

Easter crafts

 

I got the idea for bunny bags here. 

Easter crafts

Easter crafts

Easter crafts

 

And I used this recipe for bath bombs in a painted repurposed Truvia box.  Both were well received!

~K

Posted in
Celebrate!, Domestic Art
Comments (1)

Strengthen Our Net

April 3rd

I’ve become an advocate of sorts for the homeless of Arizona in the last few years. Working at the health department, I have seen how and why folks become homeless. There are holes in our social nets, but! But. There are also fiercely strong sections too.

Flagstaff Shelter Services is one of those strong ropes, providing nightly shelter for more than 80 folks year round, and day services to another 200 or more who need to get inside for a meal, or to do laundry. They are having an annual fundraiser in a couple weeks, including a silent auction. I can’t attend the event, but I sent this sweater:

Latest baby sweater

Latest baby sweater

Latest baby sweater

A baby sweater isn’t going to solve much, but it is what I can do for now. That and talk about homelessness and what we can all do to further strengthen our communities to help those most in need. While there are those who say homeless folks enjoy their culture and “want to be on the streets,” — I promise you those are far and few between.

Many in Flagstaff, and Phoenix and Tucson and all the towns between, are families who hit a rough spot and faced eviction. Sleeping in their cars led to further problems and a loss of employment. A bad car accident without health insurance left them penniless. Serving in the military left them with nightmares and the inability to trust, much less work. A substance abuse problem, an abusive partner, a series of bad decisions left them vulnerable and without a home.

These are the more common stories.

I know there are many of you who read this blog from your own communities in Maine, Texas, England, Australia, Japan and South Africa. I know that we face different social issues but each of our neighborhoods have those who need a bit of help, a hand up — as they say. It is delightful to support FSS and iHelp in Tempe, Chandler and Mesa — two organizations that truly are helping the homeless find work, get established and start over.

We are all the same, whether we are on the streets or comfortable in our warm beds. We want to be safe. We want to be loved. Our lives matter.

~K

Posted in
Arizona, Community, Domestic Art
Comments (1)

Sweet Delivery

April 2nd

Orange Marmalade

It made me very happy to leave this on the doorstep of a close friend. I love being able to share the literal fruits of our garden. This week, I’m cooking orange marmalade pulled pork in the Crockpot. Onions, garlic, a leftover jar of jam, a pork roast, with a dash of cayenne and pepper to taste, for 12 hours on low.

A perfect meal to be eaten on the patio with a kale caesar salad and a glass of ice cold white wine. (Yes. We are still eating all of that kale. And the broccoli is growing back!)

~K

Posted in
Domestic Art, Recipes
Comments (1)

The Squash Are Taking Over

April 1st

Check out this garden box:

March garden

March garden

March garden

March garden

I think we are going to have enough squash to feed an army. And mercifully, the leaves have grown so large, they are shading the carrots, which could use the help. I’m hoping the baby tomatoes will still make it. The peas are climbing like Jack.

~K

Posted in
Arizona, Flora and Fauna
Comments (1)