Results tagged “T.” from Bill's Words

On Two Wheels: Maniac


It was the song “Maniac” from Flashdance which was going through my head for the last part of yesterday’s ride. But more on that in a moment.

By way of introduction, my wife and I like to ride bicycles, though I use the term “like” differently for each of the two of us. I like to ride bicycles, used in the same way as one might say, “I like ice cream.” She, on the other hand, likes to ride bicycles, used in the same way as one might say “Lance Armstrong likes to ride bicycles.” or “Danica Patrick likes to race cars.” She likes riding bicycles so much because she is training for the Pan-Mass Challenge, a fundraiser of epic proportion for the Jimmy Fund. (Feel free to donate with this link.) It’s a giant fundraiser, but because it involves two days of bicycling—111 miles the first day and 90 the second—it’s not the kind of fundraiser one participates in lightly.

To ride this kind of ride, one goes from “liking” cycling to liking cycling. And that’s why we were out yesterday. Though she’s the only one riding in the PMC, I’ve been training right behind her. (Note about word choice to fellow cyclists: behind. She’s the one in training, after all…) And I have loved every minute of it, until yesterday.

Yesterday, we were out on a “taper” ride where we’re going from weekends of 150+ miles down to a weekend of only 100 miles. It was only going to be about 70 miles, and I knew I was in trouble from the start when my soundtrack took over.

I think I acquire a soundtrack in my head when it’s necessary to focus on something other than the task at hand. It distracts me from what I’m doing and makes it tolerable. And when “Back in the Saddle Again” started up in my head, I knew that taking two weeks off because of handlebar palsy was a huge mistake, no matter how good the reason, especially because I know only about 20 words of the total song.

Despite my best efforts, I couldn’t change the channel. It kept repeating, over and over, and I finally declared my disgust to T. She suggested I try Queen’s “Bicycle Race.” That was a good suggestion and got a chuckle. But I would have collapsed in fits of laughter if I hadn’t been cycling at the time when she suggested “Fat-Bottomed Girls.” (Remember, I said behind and, to be fair, she is not a fat-bottomed girl!) It was at that point that I was successful in replacing “Back in the…” with “Hot for Teacher.” It was the best I could come up with.

The ride didn’t get any better, though. I was struggling the whole time, and I knew I was beaten when she left me in her dust on the final hill climbs from Vernon to Tolland. These hills will give you a pretty good workout, and I was easily 1/4 mile behind her each time she stopped to wait for me under the guise of waiting for a traffic light. Worse, I was turning as best I could in my granny gear. But she wasn’t. She was almost completely cross-chained in her big ring and her almost-biggest cog. In short, and not-so-politely, she was kicking my ass.

That’s when the soundtrack went to “Maniac.” I was so impressed and so incredibly proud of her that I couldn’t help going to the refrain “She’s a maniac, maniac…” over and over. She was really doing it! She’d gone from a pretty soft cyclist (and a “pretty, soft cyclist,” too) to someone who was holding her own against the hills of Tolland. She wasn’t even winded, for Pete’s sake!

And that was the best part about yesterday’s ride. Though I was the one left in the dust, she had done one better: she had conquered Tolland’s hills. Will she be ready for the PMC? You betcha’!

Maniac… “Never stopping with her head against the wind,” indeed.

In a Brick


My elder son and I were looking at a picture of a memorial brick which has our family’s name on it.

“How do you get ‘in a brick?’” he asked. I explained.

Then my wife said, “Or you can forget to pay Jabba who will hire some bounty hunters to hunt you down and put you in a brick…”

It made my day.

These Kids Argue... Differently


Tonight, the two boys were arguing about who really needed that particular piece of Lego. It started to get ugly when one of the boys said quietly to the other, “This is not the Lego piece you need.” He accompanied his statement with a clockwise hand wave.

The other responded, equally as quietly, with a “This is the piece of Lego that I need.” Also with the hand wave.

And thus ended the argument, with laughter.

T. and I just looked at each other and shook our heads knowingly, wondering if “Wax on, wax off” might apply here, too.

These are the offspring you are rearing…


NPR: Gas is the New Curfew


Article here.

In response to an NPR piece I heard today in which the author said that he had to curtail his dating activities because driving all over California to make dates is just too expensive because of high gas prices, I wrote this:

As in any marriage, there are the good times, and there are the bad times. My wife and I are enduring “the bad times” right now, and we’re working very, very hard on surviving them and rebuilding our marriage from the ground up. And because of that, we’re essentially dating again.

Of course, we’ve had traditional dates, the kind where you hop in the car and drive to dinner. But more recently, they’ve taken a much less mechanized, fuel-inflamed turn. Enter: bicycles.

As winter ended, she decided that she was going to begin commuting by bike to work to save gas money, so she did the research and purchased herself a very nice bicycle. Her commute is about 15 miles each way through the rolling (and sometimes steep hills) of Connecticut. Pretty soon, she was biking to work as often as possible and felt ready to go out on her bike with me.

Already an avid cyclist, I regularly ride almost 100 miles per week as a diversion from life’s annoyances and in pursuit of “health,” whatever that is. But I’d never ridden my bicycle with my wife. That first ride was very short and, well, the word probably is “tense” for both of us as we discovered our limits. There were the physical limits, of course, but there were the mental, emotional limits. Could we joke with each other? (Yes.) Complement, or even criticize, each other on our riding technique or the like? (Yes.) Could we talk about the serious things of a relationship on a ride? (Yes.) Could we even talk over the huffing and puffing? (Well, sometimes.)

There have been other rides since that first ride. I’ve started riding to work every now and then (23 miles each way, also steep at times). And, yes, we’ve talked, we’ve learned, we’ve enjoyed each other’s company. We’ve found “health.” And we’ve saved on gas, too.

Though it’s going to take me another 240+ rides and her another 400+ rides to pay for the bikes, the high price of gas has been, for us, a welcome addition to our life together.

(But now that we’re riding, could we have cheap gas once again, please?)

The "N Word"


T. and the boys were working on an art project this past week, part of which involved drawing a picture of an alphabet block. You know the kind, I’m sure.

Well, T. drew the block, rendered nicely in 3-D, and put the “N” on the front. “Now, O., what can we put on the side that starts with ‘N?’”

“Hmmm… how about negotiation?

The mind boggles… nut… necklace… nickel… nose… needle… nail… negotiation?

T. called to let me know of a conversation that she and O. had in the car this morning.

O.: Oh, Mom, remember that today is Smoke Wednesday.

T.: What? Smoke Wednesday?

Think… think… think…

T.: Oh, you mean Ash Wednesday?

O.: Yeah! That’s it!

I reflected on the spaghetti-covered plate in the sink, the spaghetti covered sleeve that was a direct result of the spaghetti on the plate, and remembered that he will eventually grow up and that the spaghetti will no longer be a problem. But then, too, neither will we hear of Smoke Wednesdays anymore, either.

There are some days I want my boys to grow up faster. But God designed them to grow up at exactly the right rate. Guess I’ll just have to learn to deal with that.

Lead and You: Not a Big Deal


I heard some of the best advice I’ve ever heard regarding the so-called “Chinese Poison Train” from the Lovely and Talented Wife, T.

Her take?

“Do you really think the Chinese have changed their manufacturing process over the past few decades and that they’re all-of-a-sudden using lead-based ingredients? I don’t think so. So should you worry? Well, unless your kid is eating Thomas the Tank Engine and his friends, no, most likely not.”

In other words, if it wasn’t a problem about a decade ago, it probably isn’t a problem now, either. Relax. And if you really are worried, then get your kid’s lead level tested.

‘Nuff said.

A Conversation with W.


(I found this in my journal just now—in 2007!—a conversation from June of 2001 when W. was just over three years old.)

Yesterday, the conversation between W. and me went something like this:

Me: You’ll get ice cream with chocolate sauce in a bowl.

W.: In a bowl?

Me: Yes.

W.: No, I’d rather have it in a crunchy bottle.


T.: He means “a cone.”

One Foot in the Grave...

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So the Lovely and Talented Wife (tip of the hat to and blatant rip-off of tells me the following story:

O. was in a public bathroom (the one at the church) as T. had taken him there. He had to poop, so had plenty of time to notice his surroundings.

“Mom, what’s that bar for?” he asked, referring to the handrail on the wall.

“That’s for old people who might need it to help them get up and down off the toilet,” T. replied.

Think. Think. Think.

“So, Dad will be needing that pretty soon, huh?”

One foot in the grave. One foot already in the grave.