i woke up at 7:30 to the sound of rain. too soon! it wasn't supposed to rain until later. i was bothered by this slight forecast change because i'd forgotten to put the rain cover on my motorcycle. as soon as there a was a lull, i went outside to dry the bike with a kitchen towel before covering it up. a man in a pickup truck rolled up next to me. he seemed lost and wanted to say something but looked like he couldn't find the right words. he gave me a head's up that by next week some heavy equipment will be arriving and i might want to park somewhere safer.
i went to the local bike shop with my rusted rear raleigh wheel to see what my options were in terms of fixing it. one of the mechanics told me that a replacement rim itself would cost $30, followed by another $30 for new spokes/nipples. this shop doesn't build wheels and apparently not too many other do either since he could only list 2. that didn't apply to me however since i'd build my own wheel, but he warned me against it since it's a complicated job (that just makes me want to do it even more). the mechanic suggested my best option would be to find someone selling an old wheel online, since raleigh 3-speeds are fairly common.
to belmont i went, asked to dogsit while my father was at work and my mother and sister were attending a wholesale gem convention in marlborough. i think i've been to belmont every day this week except for one day. i took the bicycle this time because i was afraid it'd rain. i discovered i prefer to pedal uphill standing up instead of playing around with the gears. i wonder if my mother might prefer standing as well since she doesn't really know how to shift.
first thing i do when i arrive in belmont is to check on the squashes.
i didn't think the SVB's would come out because of the morning rain, so i was surprised to find 2 new eggs. having never grown zucchinis before, i'm not sure when to harvest them, but the big one that's growing now seems ready to be picked. it's kind of tapered at the far end, maybe i'll wait until it fills out a little bit more. i'm more of a cucumber man myself; zucchini taste mushy to me, almost like an eggplant (which i tolerate, but only if masked in other flavors so i can ignore the unappetizing texture); cucumbers are crisp, which taste better.
i spent the rest of the afternoon separating out more stuck photos. i learned from my mistakes. now i scan the stacks before i submerge them in water, in the off chance that the image will fade, which today happened a few times. it makes me sad to see a photo one moment, then suddenly the colors all wash away to nothingness. it's like seeing a memory die. i think i managed to save most of the photos, are at least have enough recognizable bits to not consider it a total loss. i also dried the photos standing up, so the water doesn't pool on the images and create splotches. the next step is to scan all the photos, so should they continue to disintegrate, at least there will be digital copies.
i finally decided to open up my box of solar-powered garden lights. i went to the dollar store again this morning and saw they still weren't any cheaper. if i wait any longer summer will be over! besides, at $2 a pop, the ones i got are plenty cheap already ($12 for 6). i don't know why i spend so much effort decorating the backyard for night time use when nobody ever goes out in the evenings for fear of west-nile-virus-carrying mosquitoes. it is pretty though, when i can sneak a peek outside when it gets dark enough before i return to cambridge. one of my projects is to fuse a larger solar-collection panel with a string of christmas lights, to add even more lights to the backyard.
i brought the rusted rear raleigh wheel so my father could have some fun taking it apart and maybe even disassemble the gear hub to clean it and see what's inside. one of the spokes had already snapped, and a few were bent. many more felt loose to the touch. i tried my hand at removing a single spoke. it required loosening the spoke with a spoke wrench, the twisting off the nipple with a flat screwdriver. my father was thinking about putting the hub gear on the back of a tandem bicycle we have in the garage.
my mother and sister came back home in the evening. i'd already fed hailey, and they brought back some wendy's takeout. after i finished eating, i quickly gathered up my stuff and left for belmont since a doppler radar check revealed a vast swath of rain heading our way. it was the lightest of drizzle during the whole ride back. i had a large container of root beer wedged in one of the rear baskets. by the time i got back, maybe due to all the jostling, the soda was totally flat.
there was a bike swap in boston today; had i known, i might've gone checked it out. it's for a non-profit initiative that donates bikes to low income families. unfortunately they have too many vintage bikes and would like to get more mountain and hybrid bikes. so basically you trade in your new MTB/hybrid for an old road bike. here's the kicker though: "No HUFFYs, MAGNAs, Murrays, Roadmasters, Triax, or other department store low-quality bikes." dang! because i have a magna in my basement that i don't want, and my parents' have an unused huffy. but if they're looking for something better, forget about it! it also doesn't seem like a fair trade because dollarwise, a MTB/hybrid is worth more than a vintage.
finally, a posting on craig's list alerted me to a free mixte bike frame and a set of wheels on the curb close to central square. first i had to look up what "mixte" meant. i've heard of it before but always though it was some kind of brand. turns out it's a type of step-through frame, exactly what i was looking for! it was already past midnight but the listing was posted close to 11:00PM. maybe nobody's claimed it yet. so i grabbed my bike lights and helmet and headed out. i also took a spare bike lock, since i wouldn't be able to ride a bike and carry a bike at the same time, i figured i could lock the mixte to a sign post and come back for it tomorrow.
i hesitated briefly because it was pouring rain outside, but such is the nature of obsession that even foul weather couldn't keep me away from a potential prize. so not only is it raining, but it's also at night, doubly dangerous. the address was 170 block of windsor street, which i thought was a weird location, until i got there: 170 windsor street is a block of low-income housing. i made my way through the pedestrian pathways but couldn't see any free bike. even if it wasn't rainy and pitch dark, it would've been hard to find through the maze of concrete buildings. through my rain-coated glasses i could see shadows watching me up on balconies. i think someone even asked, "are you lost?" disappointed and a little scared, i made my way back home.
naturally i was completely soaked, but i was thankful i didn't get hit by a car or fall of my bike on the slippery road. i took a shower and called it a night. damn you mixte!