Fresh Snow. Danger.

February 24, 2009

So... somebody has been leaking to my mom and dad about my winter/mid-pregnancy cycling. Now... I'm not riding nearly as much as usual due to the weather, the roads, etc. But... yeah, I'm still out there now and then. My parents are so sweet and I know they just want me to be safe and not get hurt but, I LOVE riding my bike! As long as I feel the conditions are okay and I'm still feeling comfortable doing it with the exponential growth of my mid section, I'll keep taking the bike when I can.

In my defense I said to my parents, "If this were Beijing, you would see lots of pregnant ladies on bikes" (I don't actually have any concrete evidence of this, it is an assumption of mine). Then my mom politely pointed out that, "we're not in Beijing." And even better, my dad said, "If this were Beijing, a girl would listen and do what her parents asked!" Very true mom and dad, very true indeed.

Admittedly, riding yesterday was a bit treacherous. We had lots of fresh snow, which makes things really slippery and also, covers up weird blips in the road and increases the danger factor. The toughest thing about winter riding for me is that I can't ride on the side of the road anymore. The ice is so bumpy and inconsistent... and I just don't have the proper bike with gigantic tires to deal with it. Also, you can get your tire caught in a groove of ice and easily have your bike slip out. I actually dismounted yesterday to roll my bike up onto the sidewalk and even just walking with the bike, it got caught on some camouflaged ice and just fell over.

I rode right in the lane, in tire tracks, and for the most part the cars were alright with going around me. I had one person do impatient honking on their horn, but that's just their problem. I'm legally allowed to have a whole lane! And even if I tried to ride on the shoulder I'd probably wipe out and they would end up running me over so impatient drivers should be happy I'm not making THEIR lives more difficult with the possibility of having them charged with manslaughter.

Thank goodness the Pashley is equipped with lots of lights! I went to dinner with my lovely friend, Crystal, and loaded up on lots of carbs for the ride home. It's too bad that Dougal can't come out with me, but I don't want to leave him sitting by himself outside the restaurant in a pile of snow for several hours. He stayed at home.

Pashley and I

February 22, 2009

We like to get groceries together. She waits outside while I find delicious things for dinner. She treats me nice whether I'm in shorts and flip flops, jeans and heeled boots, or a dress (yes, even pencil skirts). Pashley is dependable. And she's pretty too.

Family Day

February 16, 2009

I've been having bike cabin fever lately... and decided to ride the Pashley to rehearsal despite the -20 weather.

It was fantastic! Since it's Family Day here in Edmonton (long weekend) the roads were really quiet. I just rode in tire tracks on the road. It was crunchy and at times icy, but that's no big deal compared to what makes biking in the winter really annoying for me. Cold I can deal with. I HATE wind and slush. Today it was cold but sunny - beautiful!

So I rode over to my friend Daniel's place for a duo harpsichord rehearsal. Nothing like some Bach to make a long weekend. Daniel also happens to have the most fantastic house (we call it Mozart's salon). We played some harpsichord and had tea. How very civilized!

Beater Bike Takes a Spin

February 12, 2009

I'm not sure what special blend of salts Edmonton uses on its icy roads, but I've been warned by all cyclists I know about how dreadful this salt can be to one's beloved bike. That's why I haven't been taking Pashley out.

Instead, I finally got around to taking my beater bike (a super cheap, found it on somebody's lawn, vintage Raleigh) into redbike (my bike shoppe). Getting it there was a challenge. I took my basket with belt buckles off my other bike and put it on so that Dougal could ride with me and we could have a nice walk back afterwards. Problem was that the weight of the dog in the basket kept pressing down on my front fender! It was a squeaky ride.

We got there (man, am I out of biking shape) regardless, and Dougal had a fabulous romp at the bike shop. Chewing cardboard, terrorizing some plastic bottles... he's a big hit with the bike guys.

The raleigh should be ready in a few days, just needs a few changes to make it ride-able. It's never going to be a fabulous bike, but I just need certain things to work properly... like the rear brakes! And we'll get rid of the duct tape on the handlebars too...

Sparkly Accessories Make Me Happy

February 7, 2009

So... I know that maternity clothes have come a long way. Even so, the daily uniform of merely jeans and a top does not feel as inspired as usual. Thus, I wear sparkly accessories to compensate for the otherwise blank canvas. This is a little hair clip I bought in London a few years ago on the urging of my mom.

This is the blank canvas outfit I'm talking about. The lines are decent for somebody who is 23 weeks pregnant, but it's nothing to write home about.

One of my favourite daily accessories, my watch. And some sparkly bracelets my students made me as a year end gift.

Location, location, location.

February 5, 2009

A good friend of mine has been house hunting for the past little while and she often sends me the listings for certain properties she has found so I can live vicariously through her real estate ventures. One thing that studying these listings has reminded me of is the importance of a good location when choosing a place to live/buy.

I know, I know, there are a lot of practical factors mitigating exactly where one can live. There are certainly a few select 'choice' neighborhoods in Edmonton (I'm sure this is similar to other cities) where the houses are beautiful and located in very desirable parts of the city. These properties are usually very expensive and not particularly accessible to first time buyers.

Even so, location is worth the investment! Or, at least that's what Don and I think. This explains why we went through the pains of moving this past September... only 26 blocks north. Sure, now we own two properties (we have rented the other one out) and we have to do the whole renovating house-fix-up stuff all over again. Don't be fooled, this is a huge time commitment. Awesome neighborhoods usually mean older houses. Older houses, despite having wonderful character, need a lot of work. Add this to the Don & Sarah life of being ridiculously busy and you have a recipe for spending most any free time doing stuff to the house or feeling guilty that you're NOT doing stuff to the house.

Why go through all this pain and suffering? Because living in a fantastic neighborhood close to everything is unspeakably excellent... and is absolutely worth every last bead of sweat! Our old 'hood was great too and nothing to complain about. The LRT is due to open there in another year or so, and it was really well connected to good cycling routes, the freeway, and other cool amenities. Plus, our neighbors were awesome (but so are our new ones). Our new place is in ridiculous proximity to the river valley, city parks, and 15 minutes closer (by bike) to all our usual haunts. To be honest, I get less exercise now because my bike rides are shorter. Also, our train station is opening this April.

This brings me to my point. Of course one can only purchase within what the bank says is possible, but keeping that in mind, location is key. Nobody wants to have to sink a ridiculous amount of money into a place that is falling apart, however, it's not smart to buy a place that requires around 1-2 hours in a car commuting to work each day. I just don't see how that is fun... or a good way to spend my time. Even if you're on the bus for a while getting to and from work. At least you can read or listen to some tunes or do some email. Living somewhere where the bus is effective or close to bike routes gives one a lot of options. I implore people to get over needing a brand 'new' house (narrow lots, no sidewalks, no schools, no fire station, no library...) and consider buying something pre-loved in the core of the city. Sure, looks matter. But as long as things are structurally sound, the cosmetics parts can be altered over time.

Buying a property for the investment value and location are smart things to do if possible. It contributes to a more vibrant lifestyle that doesn't necessarily have the prerequisite of an automobile. Urbran sprawl in Edmonton is pretty bad... but people still have this hunger for having a place that is 'new'. I'll admit I'm not a very understanding individual when it comes to being sympathetic about living somewhere so car oriented. It's not sustainable!

Warning: Your Pregnancy Is Everybody's Business

February 3, 2009

So... this isn't necessarily about ecomobility, but it is in part about how pregnancy/having a kid is going to effect my lifestyle. I was directed to this other soon-to-be mom's blog,, by a friend who said I would probably enjoy her wry and hilariously sarcastic writing style. Although I absolutely enjoy her narrative style, I started to feel really guilty while reading about all the symptoms of her pregnancy. I can't say I relate...

Nausea? Not once (yet). Heartburn? Zero. Wacky heightened senses and strange cravings? Nope. Crazy emotional mood swings? Not so much.

I've heard that I'm REALLY lucky. Other than the weight gain and getting a baby bump (and one face break out) I've felt totally normal. The thing that makes me feel abnormal is the conversations I have to have with people about the pregnancy. I hate hate hate being reduced to my pregnancy. Women often complain about feeling violated when people might touch their tummies. This is probably just personal, but physical proximity to strangers or non-relatives doesn't really bother me that much. Actually, there's a guy friend at work who shows way more interest in my bump than Don does! It's sweet.

What DOES bother me is people continually telling me that I have no idea what I'm getting into. Not having had children before, I can't really come up with any proper retort. I've never claimed to know everything or be idealistic about how much work and what a commitment this is going to be. But, it doesn't mean that the things that matter to me now (having a healthy and active lifestyle, not trashing the environment, living with awareness) will cease to be of importance. Sure, I might not have the exact same schedule and habits as pre-baby, but it doesn't mean I'll stop caring.

The onset of baby life this summer (I'm due June 4th) will likely cut into cycling. I think newborns are probably too floppy to put on a bike or hitch to the back of a bike. That's okay, it'll just mean that I'll walk. So instead of an 8 min bike ride to go out for some shopping or lunch, it'll probably mean a half hour walk. That's okay! Plus, my train station 5 mins away opens this April, so baby and I will pack it up and get in the train. I'm really looking forward to hopefully not having to go to the gym. I'm AWFUL at going to the gym. I get so unmotivated and I don't find it very rewarding or fun unless I'm signed up for some sort of class (and usually the time commitment means I end up missing half of them) or I'm going with a friend. I prefer to get exercise while out and about getting other things done. So hopefully walking will be a good way to care about the environment and my body.

Also, I hate being equated exclusively to my pregnancy. I feel as though I can't say ANYTHING that doesn't get chalked up to being pregnant! For example, if I boast about feeling terrific because I slept in that morning... somebody at work will say something like, "Of course you slept in, you must be SO TIRED because you're pregnant!" I mean, has this person not paid attention all those other days I revel about sleeping in because I happen to stay up really late all the time and uh... really dig sleeping in? Example 2. I was commenting on how I wanted some glazed doughnuts really badly. Then I got the "You've got super cravings!" responses. Little do these people know that even in elementary I'd bike to the bakery after school (maybe 2 times a year) and get like... 4-6 glazed doughnuts (with the good intention of bringing them home to share with everybody). I'd end up eating all of them. I just love glazed doughnuts, I'm not going to lie. And it's not because I'm pregnant. Can't somebody just really love glazed doughnuts?

Generally speaking, I find that many people just hear what they want to hear despite the specific questions they ask me about the pregnancy. When I tell people I feel fine, they tell me that I should take advantage of being pregnant and just admit that I'm tired. Uh... okay? If I was tired, I'd just say so. So it's the lame conversations I don't like. If somebody just wants to monologue about what they think about pregnancy, why don't they just do that instead of opening up a conversation with me with the guise of a dialogue when that's really not the case?

Conversely, I DO have some excellent conversations with some people who are really supportive and happy for me and seem to know where I'm coming from. It's those exchanges that keep me going and give me the strength to leave my house and smile and nod when people say dumb things to me.

Oh yeah, that picture up there is of our little dude fetus. I refer to Don as big D and Dougal as little d. So right now this little guy is being referred to as mirco d.

Don't get me started on the faces I get when people ask me what names we're thinking of. I didn't have the good sense to realize some people would be so negative and opinionated about the name of a child that wasn't even their own! I have since then decided not to let it bother me. I've never asked for anybody's approval when it came to choosing anything... ever, really. And I'm always confident in my choices so... it's going to me named what Don and I like and people who want to scrunch up their faces can suck it!

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