Sunday, September 06, 2009

Bike Ride to Little Itlay, or How I Spent my Summer - Part 3

Stories from the summer…

Many mornings, after the first bottle but before the first nap (the baby's, that is), I load up Jane in the car or in the Burley trailer behind my bike and head to Donny’s Cafe, the local hangout for coffee lovers, cyclists, or anyone who enjoys talking over coffee with friends and acquaintances.

There are a number of little groups who gather regularly at Donny’s, and somehow Jane and I found ourselves joining the table of local retired men, many of whom are cyclists. Most mornings, a handful of them will be sitting, sipping coffee and talking about boats, model trains, Jim’s most recent escape from the Kaiser facility (I mean visit to, visit to...), or about the other people who aren’t there.

After seeing their group every other day at the cafe at the same time that Jane (about four months old at the time) and I would arrive, I asked if we could join their table. I’m sure they thought it would be a one-time occurrence, and politely invited us to sit down. Within no time at all, Jane had worked her magic on them and one or another of them would make faces at her, or bounce her on his knee.

Still, I didn’t consider that we were accepted as “Honorary Old Farts” until we returned from a family reunion in Texas in July. As I carried Jane up to the patio where they all sat, I was greeted with calls of, “Well, where have you been?!” “You didn’t tell us you were going out of town!” and facetious “Who’s that?” which was answered promptly with, “That’s Jane’s mom.” I smiled and thought to myself: Nice! Like Jane Goodall with the great apes, they have come to accept me as one of their own.

On Thursdays, the whole gang of them (often six or eight men) will show up for a bike ride from the cafe to downtown San Diego or to the Chula Vista marina to have lunch. Although I would sometimes show up to the cafe on the bike with Jane in tow behind me in the trailer, they never asked me to join them on their bike ride. I hoped that they would, but I wanted to be sensitive to the “guy time” thing. After all, I’d already infiltrated the ranks AND brought an infant with me.

Then one Thursday in mid-July, I showed up to the cafe with Jane in the trailer, expecting to take a 45-minute ride with her around the golf course after coffee, when one of them looks up and says, “So! You’re coming with us today?”

What? Today? Me and Jane? “Um… sure!” I stammer, “ We’d love to come. Where do you guys go?”

“Little Italy. We have lunch at Filippi’s,” Kevin tells me.

Little Italy is about 13 miles away, and might be the farthest we’ve ever ridden with the trailer. But the route is simple, mostly flat, we have plenty of diapers and formula, and if it gets to be too difficult, we can always turn around and go home. Excited about the sudden adventure looming large before us, Jane and I load up to go.

As I write this, it occurs to me how much my life has changed. “Adventure” used to mean traveling alone across Spain, continuing over to Israel following my husband’s ship (the USS Austin that time) into three ports on a Mediterranean deployment, or hitchhiking alone from a remote part of northern Russia back to St Petersburg. Now, with a baby in the Burley trailer, “adventure” is taking a bicycle day-trip with a bunch of retired guys. I reflect on these adventures with equal fondness and gratitude that I can be in the right place at the right time. I wouldn’t miss any of these adventures for anything.

Riding up Harbor Drive

Mike, Jim (in yellow)

Coming into downtown San Diego

On the bike path across from the convention center

Mike, Tony

Laura and Jane make it to Filippi's (and yes, I carry a skirt in the trailer)

The Old Farts: Kevin, John, Bob, Dave, Mike, Jim, Tony

Stephanie and Dave (it's Dave's birthday)

Jane plays under the chairs. I'm hoping she will tie some shoelaces together...

Mike across from the tall ships (Star of India)

Leaving Downtown San Diego headed to the Embarcadero.

Mike, Tony on the Embarcadero at Seaport Village

We all have a wonderful lunch at Filippi's and I meet Stephanie, their very patient and obliging waitress. I find that Jane is very well-behaved and content as long as she is dry and not hungry or thirsty. Although we leave the house that day at 9:15am, and don't return until after 3pm, Jane seems to be happy to be along for the ride.

Another great adventure for me, and a first of many for little Jane.

Friday, September 04, 2009

It's Official: Jane Loves Bike Rides, or How I Spent my Summer - Part 2

Jane has been riding in the Burley trailer since she was five weeks old. I've always assumed she liked it, or at least didn't mind it. The morning after I get my handlebar-friendly wrist splint, I go out to the garage to ready the trailer for a splint test-ride.

I unlock the garage door, leaving the door to the house wide open. The trailer is already hooked up, all I have to do is load up. I need water, the diaper bag, a bottle for Jane, and sunscreen. As I head back into the house I see Jane, who has followed me out of the house and is crawling towards the garage door. Knowing she does not like to be anywhere I am not, I assume that she will play outside near the door, or follow me back into the house rather than venture by herself into the dimly lit garage.

I move quickly to the kitchen, fill a water bottle for myself, and start to prepare a bottle for Jane, when I pause a moment and glance out the window to the place where I left my little girl. I stop. Jane is not outside at the door playing. I rush to the garage, the scenarios flooding my brain one after another: my bike has fallen on her and she's pinned; she picked up a nameanyitem, put it in her mouth and is choking; she's eating kitty litter and doesn't care... etc. Why would she go into a darkened garage without me?! She never does that. She always keeps me in eyesight. Why can't I hear her?!

The moment I'm inside the garage I see Jane. She's standing next to the trailer, holding onto it for balance, babbling to herself. Jane has crawled all the way to the front of the semi-darkened garage to wait for me beside her trailer. I think she would have crawled in, but her legs are still too short to make it over the arm affixed to my bike. She hardly notices me when I enter the garage, her attention fixed on the Burley.

"C'mon, Mom! Let's go!"

Wow. Jane really likes the bike rides after all. How cool is that?

(Up next: the Ride to Little Italy with Jane's geriatric playgroup. Stay tuned!)

How I Spent my Summer - part 1

I've been battling "new mom" tendinitis in my wrist since mid-May. There's a longer name for it, but it's less... memorable evidently. This specific tendinitis is very common among new moms, dentists, and people who bear weight on a cocked wrist. It's more painful than I ever ever imagined.

Tendinitis sounds so harmless and almost trivial. Nothing like "distal radius fracture" or "A/C separation" or even "hematoma." I've experienced all those things and they weren't nearly as painful. OK, maybe the shoulder. But tendinitis is like that unassuming red-headed chick at the martial arts tournament who's five foot nothing, kinda quiet, looks like she just fell off a charm bracelet... you know the one. You dismiss her almost immediately, but man, she attacks fast, hangs on like a badger, and will lay you low before you know she's even there.

The good folks at Physical Therapy tell me the remedy for tendinitis is immobility, so that the inflammation will go down and the tendon will work as normal. So for two months, I wore a splint. Kinda. Unfortunately I only half-heartedly kept my thumb immobile, so I suppose that's why it only half-heartedly attempted to heal.

In early July, I got a hard splint from Physical Therapy at Balboa Naval Medical Center that was molded specifically to fit my wrist. This would really keep the thumb immobile. I remarked as they were making the splint that it would be really sweet to have a splint that was molded against the grip on my mountain bike, so that I could ride in the splint without fear of additional injury. To my amazement, Alma looked up and said, "Oh, we could do that."

Alma tests the grip in my new splint.

New grip-friendly splint.

Eeeeexcelent! I'll test it out tomorrow!

(More on how I've spent my summer to come, including the bike ride to Little Italy with Jane's geriatric play group. I know you can't wait!)