Monthly Archives: April 2010

Vie gehts?

When one grows up surrounded by relatives speaking their native (non-English) language, the tendency is to pick up at least a few words and phrases that become a part of one’s own vocabulary. In the case of my husband and me, that language is Swiss.

Don’t bother trying to tell me there is no Swiss language because having come from a long, long line of Swiss-speaking relatives, that simply won’t fly. It is not German. It is Swiss.

So this morning, my husband and I passed my cousin in the parking lot near my office. He yelled “Vie gehts” at her. She grinned and responded with something equally Swiss-ish. Laughter ensued and suddenly we were transported back to an earlier era.

My cousins and I grew up listening to our Grandma Suter and her sisters talking in a strange mix of English and Swiss. We always knew when they were talking about us because interspersed with the “achs” and other Swiss words were very familiar names…”Mary…Claire…Cathy”. This was usually when we’d spent the night with her on the farm and they were in their Saturday morning phone fests.

My mother didn’t raise her voice at us often, but we knew what she meant when she said (this is spelled phonetically because I don’t know the true spelling and this is what we heard): “Sheeshta-veedle-ee-goochs.” (That “ch” is tricky — it’s not ch as in chat but more of a guttural as if one was saying “ach”. ) At any rate, we knew this meant that we should get our fingers out of whatever we were doing because whatever it was wasn’t for us. As in snitching cookies that were meant for company.

It was not until many years later that my mother finally admitted — somewhat guiltily — that the literal translation was “get your finger off the gun” — not an appropriate phrase for a pacifist household.

When I met my husband’s father, I learned some new Swiss terms — some my Mother claims to never have learned, despite the fact that she spoke Swiss until she entered primary school. My father-in-law spoke the usual stuff, but interjected some more colorful words and phrases here and there. Maybe it’s the difference between growing up in Allen county versus Putnam county. Who knows?

Because they spent so many of their early years with their grandparents, my daughters have their own favorite Swiss words. Lindsay learned it almost as fast as she learned English. I never knew if she’d answer the door with “Come in” or (more phonetic spelling), “Cho-mi’-na”. Somehow she had that gutteral sound down better than I ever had.

If you want to spend a few hours in the company of some real Swiss speakers, the local annual Swiss Day is fast approaching. They’ll even let you try some “nothings” even if you can’t speak the language.

Eat, pee, poop, sleep

Imagine a life like this. Eat, pee, poop, sleep. Every now and then someone hooks a funny-looking strap to that itchy thing around your neck and off you go for a trot. Back at the house, the couch is empty, just waiting for you to settle in for another snooze.

Such is the dog’s life. Not a worry. No need to go to work five days a week. Frequently, someone pulls you into a lap for a good ear scratching or a belly rub. Ahhhh….and a quiet, unobtrusive dog can settle in under the dinner table, waiting patiently for food items that will certainly be dropped to the floor. An alert dog can be snoozing, yet covertly preparing to nab the nearest crumb — such as Bagel, the miniature poodle, who once grabbed an entire roll out of midair as the clueless diner fumbled it.

After dinner, just as the dog is settling in for his 50th snooze of the day, that dang leash comes out again. Bah. Another walk. Of course, the walk sometimes ends up at the nearby ice cream place where puppy cones come with a dog biscuit perched on top. Little Barky knows better than to object to the walk.

Then there are the frequent trips around town, sitting in the back seat of the car, head out the nearest open window. Ahhh…just feel that fresh, cool air blowing up the nostrils and cooling down the fluffy head. What dog could complain to the joys of car cruising without having to take a turn behind the steering wheel?

Oh sure, there are drawbacks. The lucky dog (i.e., spoiled rotten) gets to sleep in a real bed with a real person, while those whose owners believe in the old-fashioned — but effective — use of a crate. He who sleeps in a crate will not wet the bed. Then there are the in-betweeners — the pooch who gets to sleep with his female owner until the male owner arrives. He stealthily sneaks in — thinking said dog is sound asleep and won’t know what hit him — gently picks up the pooch to transfer him (or her) to a crate down in the dungeon of a basement.

Then there’s that crunchy stuff they call “kibble”. Okay yeah, it’s fun to hear it crunch, but leftover chicken and potatoes is MUCH better. More flavor. And there are the days when someone forgets to fill the water bowl. Not until the little guy follows close at the heels of the nearest human, gazing with obvious pleading, does the dish get filled.

Despite the drawbacks, who wouldn’t envy a dog’s life? To eat, pee, poop and sleep..what could be better?

Falling with grace

Is it possible to fall gracefully? Can one actually twirl gently to the ground ballerina style? If so, would someone please teach me? I fall with the grace of an elephant toppling over. Thud. No gentle movement, no slow crumpling, just a solid thump.

This is true. Just watch some time. Well, if you want to watch, you’ll have to be up early because I limit my falling to the early morning hours. That way the only witnesses will be (a) my running partner and she’s so used to seeing this that she stops — still running in place, of course — and says, “Ummm, are you okay?”; (b) Randy Matter walking Harley around the National (I like to think he would offer me a ride in his septic tank truck while Harley licks my face back to full conciousness); or (c) someone so late to work at DTR that they’d pretend not to see me.

I’ve fallen so often that my body knows which body part should get full brunt of the force. This would be my right shoulder because it’s already so shot that it couldn’t get any worse. This also is true. Ask my favorite massage therapist because she always begins her routine with my right shoulder knowing that all of the knots in my body will have congregated in that spot at the mere suggestion of her arrival.

Anyway, I’ve fall so many times while running the trail around the National that I no longer run on it. At least not conciously. Until yesterday. There I was, in my usual 6 a.m. state of semi-consciousness. I’d just passed Randy and Harley on their early morning trek around the eastish side of the quarry — the paved bike path.

But somehow my body overcame my brain and I ended up running on the trail. Honestly, I don’t know how I got there. But I know I was there. This became painfully clear when suddenly I felt myself in the air — no foot on the ground — knowing full well I was not going to land on my feet. I remember this happening in slow motion but my guess is it actually occurred in a millisecond.

For one moment, I thought I’d caught myself, but it was not to be. The root won another round. There I went. Thump and oof. Smack on the right shoulder and oof to the ribs. You know that feeling when the wind is suddenly knocked out of you? It feels as if someone actually stuck a vacuum in your mouth and sucked out all the air.

Someone was groaning. I looked around. Oh, that was me. Hmmmm…was I still alive? Did I have a phone? No such luck. What to do? Well, as my dad would have said, “Buck up kiddo.” Well, he never really said that, but I’m pretty sure he thought it quite often, given my tendency toward klutziness.

Slowly the air returned to my lungs and my breathing evened out. I walked awhile and tentatively tried running. Darned if I was going to walk another mile home. I just wanted to get to a hot shower.

Now why is it that on the day that something like this happens, no one is at home? No sympathetic hugs, unless you count wet licks from the dog. On the other hand, there was also no one to say “I told you so.” I’ll take the dog’s wet, sloppy, sympathetic kisses.

I guess I should have expected a rocky adulthood. After all, I was not the most graceful child. All those stitches from running into baseball bats and stepping on rusty tent posts stakes should have been a forewarning of things to come.

So I’m thinking maybe I should just sew some padding to my running duds. Or better yet, anyone have a set of football pads?

Nancy’s legacy

Nancy Badertscher would be the first to say that she lived a full life. What she wouldn’t say was how painful that life was. She chose instead to live with a smile on her face and a lilt in her friendly greeting.

Diagnosed at a young age with a rare disease, Nancy wasn’t expected to live much beyond her teens, let alone into her 40s. Once in an interview, she reflected on that time in her life. What I remember is that she and her family didn’t let that stop them from hoping and holding on to a faith that only strengthened as Nancy continued to defie the odds.

Along the way she graduated from high school (1983) and set about a lifetime of volunteering. How many Bluffton children — many now in college and older — remember her days as a classroom volunteer. She’d wheel alongside them, reminding them gently to walk quietly. She read with and to them, shared their triumphs and disappointments.

Not one to sit idle, she also volunteered at the Mennonite Memorial Home, often doing computer data entry and calling Bingo. In 2008, she received the Allen County Jefferson Award for her 20 years of community volunteerism.

I remember asking her about the award — she seemed pleased, but almost embarrassed by the attention. Clearly, the award wasn’t what compelled her to continue to volunteer. I suspect a smile and hug from a second grader meant much more.

When Nancy moved to the Mennonite Memorial Home, she continued to volunteer. Despite the debilitating disease, she exuded energy. Rarely would she be found in her room…instead she’d be zipping down the hall in her wheelchair, stopping briefly to say hello to residents, visitors and staff.

Isn’t it odd how we see someone regularly, knowing full well that she faces pain on a daily basis, but the picture we carry with us is of  that sweet smile, the cheerful “hello”. We don’t fully comprehend that for her, every day is another reminder that she has defied the odds and won.

So when the call comes that this kind, generous woman has died in her own quiet way, slipping away quickly, it comes as a shock. There is a hole in this small community and we all feel a loss. We’ll miss Nancy; we’ll grieve alongside her family.

But hopefully we’ll remember her legacy — one of giving in the face of adversity. Of living life fully.

Bluffton day at the races

You’ve got to hand it to the Reinekes. When they’re out, they’re out in full force. In fact, there were three generations of the family at Saturday’s Rhodes State PTA Club’s Run for the Health of It 5K. Gma and Gpa Reineke (aka Sam and Janette) walked the route with their granddaughter, Joscelin (Elisha and Ben’s daughter), while their daughter, Becky, daughter-in-law, Elisha, and granddaughter, Delaney (daughter of Elisha), ran the course.

Not to be outdone, Sam and Janette’s son, Ben, and grandson, Brock (Ben and Elisha’s son), cheered on the whole crowd — including every other Bluffton runner. Brock’s the best cheerleader!

Okay, in itself, you might think that’s not such a big deal. But here’s the kicker: they all had to scoot back to Bluffton to get ready for the wedding of their niece/cousin, Jenny Reineke…in North Baltimore. I keep wondering if they all wore their race shirts.

Still, they couldn’t leave as soon as they should have; the whole family stayed around for the awards ceremony because Elisha, Becky and Delaney each placed in their age groups. While everyone waited around for the award ceremony to begin, the door prizes were distributed. At one point, Janette whispered to me, “All of us have won a door prize except Becky.”

About two minutes after that, her name was called. She got the prize everyone else wanted — a gas card. Made it worth the wait, I guess — even though in the end, it meant a shorter shower.

Okay, so the Reinekes got their day in the sun…and chill. But they weren’t the only Bluffton runners in the crowd — which made it even more fun. The reason we were all there was mostly because Beth Boehr, a Blufftonite and former art teacher at Bluffton elementary (as is Janette), showed her true colors as a publicist in promoting the race. Beth is a member of the PTA club at Rhodes, and wanted to make sure lots of her friends showed up.

Carrie Phillips and I agreed it sounded like a fun time. Of course, you might not have believed that if you’d heard us grumbling all the way over about how cold it was and why her shoes didn’t fit right and why my butt might start hurting. Like most runners, we like to gripe before the start of a race. Both of us had chugged down some caffeine and were hoping that we could hold out from start to finish without having to make a pit stop at the nearest restroom (we did).

As it turned out, there were others with some sort of connection to Bluffton. I’m pretty sure I saw Randy Spallinger at the check-in, and Caroline Dawson was there — in name only. Too bad, Caroline, someone else got your door prize! Tim Luce-Wireman, who lived in Bluffton at one time, was there.

Then there was the emcee. Okay, this is where I admit my memory of names sometimes (often) fails me. Too often. This guy was the starter and he had an Everett Collier voice. Deep and resonant. The whole time he was running through his starter’s spiel, I kept thinking I knew this guy. But we were off and I forgot about it. At the end of the race, he reappeard to announce the race awards and door prizes.

All Beth Boehr could tell me was that he was someone’s husband and a Rhodes employee. That didn’t do much to jog my memory. It continued to nag….then he called my name and as he handed me the medal, said “Nice to see you, Mary!”

I smiled brightly and mumbled something unintelligible, pretending to recognize him. A minute later, one of Beth’s PTA colleagues identified him and as soon as she started to say his name, I realized why I knew him.

Londell Smith has his own connection to Bluffton — he’s a graduate of Bluffton University’s Graduate Programs in Business. I recruited him. Let’s just blame my memory lapse on the cold.

It was a great ending to a fun morning…reminded me yet again why I love living where I do.

High cholesterol isn’t easy, nor is it fun

One day long ago (24 years or so), a certain obstetrician was about to begin yet another C-section. As he set about his work, another physician sat waiting and watching. I’m not sure what his technical job was but apparently he felt obligated to keep the expectant parents entertained and therefore, oblivious to the surgical procedure.

Since the doc has only seven minutes in which to extract the baby, this entertaining stuff didn’t require a lot of work, but Dr. Comedy had his act prepared. The husband found this whole gig highly amusing. The pregnant woman, on the other hand, simply wanted the whole thing over with. But…in the midst of this process, both heard one comment from the comedian — nothing funny, just a statement.

“Wow. There’s no fat in there. All that running has paid off.” Okay, this may not mean anything to anyone else, but to me it signaled that I must be healthy.

Hmmm…about one month later bloodwork appeared suspicious so I found myself in the waiting room of an internist. This guy — stern with nary a hint of a smile — sat and hmmmmmed over the reports. He ordered additional bloodwork and sent it off to various labs. It came back with the same result — cholesterol near 400. This he blamed on my hormones and insisted that I quit breastfeeding. A month or so later, the bloodwork was repeated and sure enough, said cholesterol had dropped to 230ish. Still high, but maybe we’d wait and see.

Well, fast forward 30 years. I’m still waiting for those hormones to revert to normal. In fact, they’ve probably veered of onto a whole new course. But the cholesterol remains high. Always has. Probably always will. I’ve resigned myself to the fact that I — along with three of my four brothers and countless cousins on the Suter side — have genetically high cholesterol. Most of us are on the thin side, exercise regularly, eat well (i.e lots of veggies, fruit, lean protein, etc.) and do not fit the stereotypical “high cholesterol look.”

Some of us taken one of the various meds designed to lower the wrong stuff and raise the good stuff, while others rely on Omega 3, flax, niacin, and other non-chemical sources.

On the other hand, there is Mr. S, he of extremely low cholesterol who can eat whatever he darn well pleases. Make that “could”. A week ago, he came to me and said, “i’m going to show you something that will either make you laugh or will put me at your level.”  Recent bloodwork revealed that his cholesterol had shot way up there near mine. He was devastated.

Here’s the problem.  Having done this lowfat, eating right thing for most of my life, I know without thinking what I can and cannot eat. I’ve learned all the substitutions (i.e., applesauce for fat in recipes) and can find all hidden words like “hydrogenated” in that tiny print used for lists of ingredients.

But try to teach this stuff to someone. It’s not easy, and I don’t have a lot of patience with that kind of teaching. My solution was to buy “Controlling your cholesterol for dummies” or some similar title, hand it over and say “Read this. Then we’ll talk.”

We’re still talking. It’ll take awhile. In the meantime, I have enough sympathy to know that he misses stuff like cake and pie. So I baked one of his favorite cakes and presented it with one caveat: No more eating all of this at once.

Here’s the recipe:

Wacky Cake

1 c. white sugar (try reducing this to 3/4 c.)
1 1/2 c. flour (try 1 c. white, 1/2 c. whole wheat)
3 tbsp. cocoa
1 tsp. soda
1/2 tsp. salt
Mix dry ingredients with a fork in the pan you expect to bake it in. Add (into 3 holes) 1 tsp. vanilla, 1 tbsp. vinegar, 6 tbsp. canola or olive oil (or 6 tbsp. applesauce). Pour 1 c. cold water over all and mix with your fork. Bake 25-30 minutes at 350 degrees F.  (You may double this for a sheet cake pan.)

The recipe includes this “icing”, but for obvious reasons, I prefer to sprinkle powdered sugar on the cake once it has cooled.

1/3 c. butter
2/3 c. brown sugar
1/2 c. nuts
2 tbsp. water
Mix and pour over baked cake and broil until brown.

A day with the kid in Cincy

Why is it some days never go quite as planned? Most days….at least my days. Yesterday my plan was to leave Bluffton at 7 a.m. But for as long as I’ve been responsible for getting myself places, I’ve rarely been able to leave at the scheduled time. Am I the only person who thinks of just one more important thing to take along or to do before I can leave? My husband…Mr. Organization…doesn’t share this problem, but over the years he’s learned to expect it.

Anyway, in actuality, 7 a.m. became 7:30 a.m. (technically, 7:40 a.m. since I had to stop for gas). Which, if you asked the kid at the other end who was expecting my visit, was dandy because it meant she could sleep in that much longer. As it turned out, my arrival time of about 10 a.m. was almost perfect. Almost perfect because they live in one of those old old brick three story houses where you ring a buzzer outside the front door and speak into a little cone to announce your arrived. It works. I know this because we tested it several weeks ago. But I rang and rang and got no response.

This, of course, was because said daughter was out walking….errr, being walked by Penny, the dog whose job it is to yank the arm out of the socket of whoever is on the other end of the leash. I watched this take place from my spot on the stoop. I’ve always wanted to sit on a stoop. 

As I said, there were plans. First on the agenda was to measure for curtain fabric — except no tape measure exists that easily accomodates those tall tall antiquated windows of their house. We did a fair estimate and headed out for Melt. No, Melt is not a fabric store, but to be a successful shopper, one must be well fortified with food. Melt is all about food. Good stuff…some vegan, some vegetarian, all good.

Once fortified, we struck out for the fabric store. Which, as it turns out, had not a smidgeon of what was desired. Why is it when you know exactly what you want, you can’t find it? Turns out this is also true for my daughter. What she really desired can only be described as vintage late ’60s-early’70s. 

She takes me to a thrift store which she warns me — understand, this is the child who is the master of the understatement — is “kind of messy, Mom”. Qh, if only. Turns out this “store” markets itself as “vintage” but is better described as junk. Even I — the  queen of finding the best bargains in the worst thrift store — had my doubts when we opened the door.

But there on top of a long rack of clothes, are stacks of bolts of fabrics — some of uncomparable ugliness, some completely nondescript. But of course, under about 10 other bolts is THE fabric. This is the fabric we have been searching for. Remember that sort of late ’60s green with large pinkish red and bright yellow flowers? Or maybe they were birds…I’m not sure.

My child knows her mind. She is an artist. This is THE fabric. We yank at it with all our strength, praying that the rest of the 200 bolts don’t come barreling down on top of us. It would be weeks before they found our bodies. I am not exaggerating.

Finally, along with about 100 years of dust bunnies, it is in our hands. We look at each other and grin. How much, she wonders? We drag it up to the counter and holding our breath, ask if we can buy only as much as we need or if we have to the buy the whole bolt. The sweet girl-clerk assures us we may buy as much as we want at an astounding $3/yard.

We leave the store with our prize and without a word to each other, know that this will be transported home in the trunk. There it will be washed in VERY HOT water. Only then will it be fit to be sewn.

This was truly the highlight of our day…although we sallied through two more “vintage” stores (note to Et Cetera: rename yourself “Vintage Menno”), bought the softest t-shirts at American Apparel, and found the only restrooms open to the public in the UC area of Cincy.

It was about this time that I noticed the child was turning green and holding her stomach. Turns out she’d accidentally eaten some gluten the night before — not good for one who doesn’t tolerate gluten. We booked it for home — just in time — and I spent the next hour alternately convincing Penny that she really did not need to relieve herself on every blooming tree in the yard of St. Boniface Church, and telling Anne one of her favorite childhood stories as she drifted in and out of sleep.

By the time I headed home, I realized my one mistake: It is not wise to leave Cincinnati at 6 p.m. on a Friday night…unless of course, one enjoys sitting perfectly still in a long line of cars…for a long while.

A morning in the tropics

Vacationing at home is often the best way to relax. But by today, I felt the need to get out. So much for focusing on the sewing projects…all in good time. But since I woke up to rain, my mind suddenly focused on my favorite form of getting wet — swimming. And pool running. I felt the call of the Findlay YMCA.

The husband agreed to tag along — not to swim, of course. He and the dog dropped me off at the Y and hightailed it for some office supply store. Actually, Ike didn’t have a choice. He can’t swim. Or won’t. He also can’t go inside the store, so he sat patiently in the car, snoozing with his purple stuffingless bear.

So while the boys were off doing their thing, I pretended to be in one of my favorite places — on the back river beach of Tybee Island, GA., swimming in the salty ocean water, watching the dolphins. Actually, it was quite a stretch to imagine all of this, because technically I was in a chlorinated pool with no beach, pool running to the soundtrack of Dr. Zhivago. It’s hard to imagine dolphins chattering in the distance when Omar Sharif and Julie Christie are canoodling to a rather wobbly version of “Somewhere My Love.”

But I tried. And pretty soon the heat of the water and humid air transported me to the quiet of my little island beach. Just as I was about to hop in a kayak and tool out to the dolphins, thousands of chattering little voices broke my reverie. Well, at least 20. But you get the picture. My time in the tropics was up. Not yet ready to decamp for the chilly wet of the outdoors, I traded the warm water for the much cooler — but much more peaceful — lap pool.

This was a challenge — and a win, of sorts — for me. Not having swam since last September, I was skeptical about my ability to do the crawl thanks to the bum shoulder with only about 30% rotation. Hmmmmm….somewhere along the way, I’d regained enough strength and rotation to manage a very awkward, gawky crawl. At least my kick is still strong. Doesn’t that count for something? Whatever, it’s enough for me to have spent an hour in the water.

So…I am truly on vacation. I have been to the tropics, albeit technologically and chemically created, but for now it’ll have to do.

And now…those darn sewing projects are beckoning.

Projects on the horizon

Spent half of today grading papers. Maybe more than half. But that’s okay — it was interesting stuff and I’m done until the next round arrives.

What this means is that I can spend tomorrow doing whatever I want. And…what I want is to sew. There are a bunch of little projects awaiting me, but the one I really want to get done is the butterfly chair cover. This chair is an antique of sorts, but technically probably just vintage. My parents bought it in the late 60s for Dad’s study. It got a lot of use because it was right next to the fireplace — one of those upside-down cone-shaped things in a bright orange.

Somewhere along the way, it found its way to my apartments, then houses and spent a few years in Athens, Ohio and Madison, WI. It’s back now and about to have its fourth cover. Four of those canvas slings in 40 years — not a bad record, eh? It’s gone from black to black to light blue and now sort of a light limey green. The pieces have been cut for a few months, which means it’s time to sew it together.

So that’s on the agenda tomorrow. I love fixing things — things that have to be sewn. Not carpentered. Although if I knew how to do any kind of building, I’d probably fix all sorts of things. Besides the chair cover? A pair of Eric’s favorite jeans with a rip down the leg. I’ve already warned him — these will NOT look like new. They will be wearable, but I’m not a magician.

Then there’s Anne and Nick’s quilt from Gma P — needs a casing so that it can be hung in their new apartment. And a baby sling for my pregnant friend — if I can figure out how to make it. I refuse to buy a pattern — instead, I printed directions off the Internet.

And when all that is done…hmmm….dog coats, but with temps the way they’ve been lately, I don’t think any of the dogs will be needing them for a long time. So instead…beats me. I’ll think of something.

Maybe this time I’ll take some photos so my SIL who has the best blog with the best photos and my bro, who just posted photos of his greenhouse projects, will know that I’m not idling away out here in the great Midwest.

I’ll let you know tomorrow night.

Why riding a tandem bicyle is like riding a roller coaster

One day long ago, my brother pulled into Bluffton in his aging Volvo, a bike carrier on the back. On the carrier was a tandem bicycle that suggested his trip wasn’t as easy as usual. He admitted that passing trucks in the hills of VA and West VA was a bit on the dicey side.

But bless his heart for taking his chances. He and his wife, my beloved SIL, had decided that tandems were not made for riding the hills and valleys of Virginia, especially when one’s house is situated on a stone road that is well beyond the “End state road maintenance” sign.

So they gifted us with the tandem. We, of course, were happy to take it on. Little did we know what this meant.

Recently, we pulled the tandem out of storage for its spring induction. You would think after all these years that I would be ready for this first ride of the year. Nope.

This is also a bigger deal than you might imagine. For starters, it is completely unsafe. Not the bike. The ride. Because of the difference in weight and strength, the husband sits in front. This leaves me to the back seat where I am essentially there for balance and and to serve as chief navigator, which means that I look behind us to make sure it’s okay to turn. 

So when people stare and say oooohhhhh….ahhhh…doesn’t that look like fun, little do they know about the turmoil churning through my body. Every time we set off, I am certain this will be the day my life ends. I can only compare riding with my husband to taking a ride on a roller coaster that has no person at the controls. He inches our way down the driveway (it’s on a bit of a hill), looks both ways — BRIEFLY — and we’re off! The intersection is just 10 seconds from our house (by bike) and we sail through or swoop into a turn. My stomach is somewhere back there on the road by this time. Just about the time my heart returns to its normal rate, we reach yet another intersection and with a quick glance to either side, we’re moving into another gut-wrenching turn.

It goes on like this until he runs out of steam, for which I am truly grateful. Then we slowly meander through various housing developments, down the entire length of Main Street, and sometimes even venture to the country.

Then there’s this other problem. It’s hard to explain except, well, the seats aren’t the most comfy. We’ve developed this little routine. Since I’m on the back and am at the mercy of his pedaling (or not), I have to tap him on the shoulder and say “stand up break”. This means that my you-kn0w-what is numb and I have to stand up which means he has to coast for awhile. When the numbness hits him, he just quits pedaling which essentially indicates that it is time to coast for a bit.

All of that aside, riding a tandem is fun. Some of the time. Most of the time. And I am so thankful that the bro and SIL were generous enough to give it to us. Just remember this. If you see me wearing bike shorts next time, it means I have learned my lesson.

One other thing. Helmets are essential. Well, helmets with bikes are essential anyway, but with a tandem — at least when riding with he-who-thinks-he’s-a-race-car-driver, they’re more than essential. Besides, if we don’t wear them and the local bicycle expert-cum-postmaster sees us, we’re in trouble. And who wants to be on the wrong side of the postmaster?