I took this picture through the window of a city bus today. (The yellow arc is some reflection on the glass.) This car looked noticeably better than most I’ve ever owned until the right front wheel changed directions on its own. The people were just getting to Wendy’s when this happened and surely had no idea the car would break down. I’m a little sad for them and also glad I’m not one of them. Also, here’s a lesson in car ownership. If I can’t afford to deal with something like this, I’m not ready to own a motor vehicle.
So this is the folding bike I got with my back pay from SSI. (I got some other stuff, but this is the biggest thing.) It’s kind of a delayed-reaction impulse buy. I saw it in the window at a local bike shop one day in late December and decided to buy it because it’s similar to the Dahon I really wanted but about $170 cheaper. When I finally got the money, I bought it first thing. Dumb decision (which is why I’m not giving the brand or model). Buy a Dahon or another good brand if you can. On this one, the low gear isn’t as low enough for climbing, headwinds, or heavy cargo; the handlebar height doesn’t adjust to my size; and it has other drawbacks. Oh, well. At least it’s pretty.
That green thing on the seat post is not part of the bike. I’ve been carrying that gadget, called a Traileron, for years. (The black bump above it is a tail light.) It allows me to pull almost any cart behind the bike without any other hardware. This is actually the first time I used it. In this case, I towed my hand truck with my laundry as the cargo.
The detail of the Traileron is not as easy to see as I’d like because I’m not as good at editing as I’d like. The handle of the hand truck goes into a notch in the Traileron and is secured by a heavy-duty O-ring bent into a shape that works for the purpose.
How did it do? Pretty well. The O-ring is the brilliant part. It gives enough flexibility to let the hand truck adapt to the bike leaning or turning but is tight enough to keep it firmly attached. The sad thing is that Trailerons are not made any more.
Here’s the “home and dry” picture. I wish the Traileron were still made. I would certainly recommend it as cheap way to get much more work from a bicycle. The user doesn’t even need a luggage rack, and the trailer can be any of many things, such as a child’s wagon, wire grocery cart, or even a golf bag cart. There’s a second O-ring provided that would give more choices. Thus, there’s less need for a trailer custom-made for bicycles. I imagine a good do-it-yourself person could probably make one, but there would be work involved that most poor people don’t have tools, shop space, or know-how to perform.
Pretty much any scenery (other than trash cans) is nice as seen from a safe, comfortable place out of the weather on a full stomach. Experienced outdoors, it’s usually different.
I got home today just as the rain began. It looks benign from my doorway. My friend in Spokane, WA, has been posting pictures of her husband shoveling large amounts of snow with lighthearted comments. However, I have walked miles in rain and snow. Even if I have the right gear, it’s far more difficult than driving in it or staying indoors. I’m counting my blessings tonight, but let’s all remember that people are homeless and trying to sleep in tents or under tarps in this stuff.
Here’s a picture from the park on Yule, December 21. For once, the season in Ohio matched the calendar. I had a nice, contemplative holiday. For us, this is the beginning of the year and a time of re-birth. That’s what I need about now.
On the way home, the bus had to re-route around a big fire caused by a gas leak and explosion. The driver couldn’t handle the re-route and it got long and strange. We were near that fire much longer than is good for me. I finally got home, which is a mile from where the fire was still burning. My asthma/sinus/whatever is still reacting to either that, a weather change, or both. Many of my friends are sick with one thing or another.
This past Friday, I finally got a new prescription for the hypersomnia after a two-week snafu. (There’s nothing else like the combination of poverty and the medical industry.) The new medicine does seem to keep me awake. My sense of time has changed, and I think I had been having “micro-sleep” before, where I check out for a few seconds without realizing it. Also, in a very odd development, my typing skill has returned to its previous professional level after gradually dropping off for several years. Weird. However, I have been having some odd sensations and what not that might be side effects, the asthma/COPD/whatever lung issues or just the tail end of a rough year.
Wednesday or Thursday, I managed to lose my new neck warmer. This is not good. We are in a warm spell at the moment, but I need to cover my mouth even now. So yesterday, money came in the mail, a gift from an old friend. (Thanks D!) I decided to rush out and replace the neck warmer with whatever I could find. I walked into Walmart just before 5 p.m. on Christmas Eve. I wish I had video of that. It would give me a way to re-define the word “chaos.” Thanks to loving Greater Powers and time in recovery, I was able to find a balaclava (ski mask) and a couple of other items. I even had a nice conversation with the gentleman ahead of me in line. Then I got on the bus and went straight to my meeting and had a really good meeting there.
Today, I went to my usual Sunday morning meeting and another this evening. This is not a Hallmark Christmas, but the gifts are the best.
I have been accomplishing things this weekend, and I like that far better than the exciting/chaotic times I once had. It beats sleeping or sitting here in a daze, too.
Friday evening was boring but will serve my needs. I finally got filing supplies and set up a new filing system. I found the file box a month or more ago at the VOA Thrift in Galloway, but hadn’t used it until now. This may be the dullest picture I ever post, but for people dealing with SSI, Medicare, Medicaid, “Part D,” SNAP, and all the rest; keeping track of all the paper really counts.
I’m not done with my filing yet. There’s a mini-mountain of paper waiting, but I can work it down now that I have the basic setup.
The weather has chilled. Saturday (yesterday) tested my winter gear setup, and I enjoyed the results. The neck warmer/face mask (prior posting) not only lets me breathe well, but it neither fogs my glasses nor collects condensation. The condensation improvement makes it the best face mask I’ve ever used.
Yesterday I took a trip to the VOA Thrift (again). The most important objective was to try to find a chair at the thrift shop. I use one chair at my computer and most of the time. The one I’ve been using was a $1 deal back in July or August from a nearby thrift, but I’ve worn out the legs. It looked like this:
Notice how the front legs slant a little wrong? So did I. I figured in somewhere between a day and a month it would fall apart and dump me on the floor. So yesterday, I took the time to find a different chair. Neither I nor the clerk could read the price marked on it. She sold it to me for my favorite price, $1.91. I had to carry it to the bus stop and from the bus stop back here. The bus driver was friendly and helpful, and I’m glad for that. It’s a little big to take onto the bus.
This is way better. Besides giving me a safer seat, I also get much more comfort. It’s even short-legged enough that I can rest my feet on the floor.
While I was looking around yesterday, I noticed a clothes drying rack. I have wanted one of those since I moved, and there it was. I could not carry both that and my chair yesterday, so I had to take my chances and go back today. Got it! This fits neatly inside my bathtub for the dripping part of drying clothes, then I can easily move it close to my wall heater. Here it is with a few cleaning cloths for a test use.
You can’t really see my new jacket in the background, but I got that today too.
I like this kind of weekend. It’s not exciting, but it improves my life.
Here’s what I look like this morning (sorry for the blurry picture):
People have been offering to feed me lately, and I don’t understand it. A few weeks ago, I boarded a bus. In a few seconds, the rider across the aisle started telling me how the shelter downtown offers free meals. I imagine he needed them much more than me. Yesterday, the building manager here offered me a Thanksgiving plate two separate times. Ok, I’m sure she has “issues” of some sort, but that’s another person wanting me to eat. Between those two times, I rode my bike down the nearby trail to check on progress. (None.) When I came onto the trail (from an apartment complex located there), I saw a couple crossing it further up. I’m guessing they live in the little neighborhood on that side of the trail. As I passed them, they offered me a plate of food, too. Then they asked if I knew where “George” was and said they’d been looking for him. Homeless people live in that area, probably including George. I imagine they thought I was also homeless and might know him.
Do I really look homeless and hungry?
I bought a “neck warmer” this spring from the “slow shipping from China” part of ebay. It was cold enough this morning to try it out on the laundry run. In temperatures around freezing, this did really well. I was able to breathe as well as I ever can with my mouth and nose covered, and my glasses didn’t fog. Coming home after noon, the temperature was a few degrees higher and the mask warmed up, but that’s okay.
That’s basically all the new winter gear. The rest is the knit cap, same blue gloves, and the rest of the gear I use anyhow. Of course, the jackets are in layers. I’m adding sweats over my pants more as time goes on, because thermal underwear gets too warm indoors. I have “gaiters,” which protect the calves from getting wet walking or biking in snow or rain, but I may not need them for weeks yet.
In other news, the Lifeline government (privatized) phone gives me trouble as expected. I ran out of minutes and money. I have spent my last $6 trying twice to get another day’s service. After two emails each way, the voice service suddenly came back this evening with no explanation. I have no idea how long it will last, but I’ll use it while I can. I hope and expect to get the free minutes on the first of the month and add money to make that unlimited minutes. So much for “free” phone service, huh? I HAVE TEXTING even when the voice minutes run out. I just don’t like using it, but it’s much better than nothing.
I haven’t had much energy lately, which is one reason I’m not posting more. I have had a couple of nights I didn’t sleep well, but as I have stated before, night-time sleep doesn’t have much effect on the daytime hypersomnia. I got nine hours of good, sound sleep last night (!) and didn’t do much either physically or mentally today, but about 5 p.m. (1700), I nearly fell asleep sitting up. Now (9 p.m., 2100), I’m relatively awake.
Take care of yourself. Nobody else can.