Saturday, April 16, 2011

On the Town, On a Bike

Bob on S. San Francisco in front of the Tinderbox Kitchen.
The Tinderbox Kitchen on S. San Francisco is the new favorite spot for a drink for Bob and me.  It's hipper than I can ever hope to be and more expensive than what we can probably afford but we love the atmosphere for after work unwinding.  Just a tad rustic, a bit minimalist.  Quiet yet there's always an interesting conversation going on just over your shoulder.  The menu in amazing and the service is friendly but unobtrusive.

At the bar of Tinderbox Kitchen.
Bob had planned to hit the natatorium after work but was exhausted after a long week of nonstop public service and lunching at the his desk in front of the computer.  I had expected to do a 3 mile run before he returned home at 7 p.m. but when the phone rang as I was letting the dogs out upon my return home, I knew he had other plans.  No energy for swimming laps.  He wanted me to meet him downtown.  I never turn down a bike date.  A missed swim.  A missed run.  Not a biggy since we'd be getting our exercise by bike during the course of the evening.


After a drink and discussion of an anticipated visit by my parents in early May, we decided to head over to Himalayan Grill for yellow dahl and nan.  Bob and I were both locked up right outside Tinderbox; he to a iron tree guard and me to a street sign.  San Francisco Street actually has many decorative bike racks up and down the street but I'm pleased so say that on this relatively warm spring night they were all full.  Street signs serve just as well as a rack though. 

Colors at dusk.
Here I am in front of a very tall sign.  For some reason, I think it's a really cool and unique landmark.  And doesn't my yellow trench stand out in the dimming light?

I was excited to pedal over to Himalayan Grill since doing so would mean we'd be challenged to bike on Butler and Militon Avenues at night.  I find these streets to be the most tricky because they are the busiest.  I disagree with the local notion that either are particularly congested because the traffic usually is moving at too swift a pace to reasonably consider them congested.  Many cyclists, including me, often avoid them but from time to time I like to go ahead and bike on them just to keep my comfort and skill level up. 

Bright red blinky light at Butler and Milton.
Here's Bob at the light on Butler before our turn on to the bike lane on Milton heading south.  Neither of us would ever dream of pedaling on Milton without working lights on the front and back of our bikes, although we see plenty of people who do.


No bike specific parking in front of Himalayan Grill but this pole always seems to be open for us.  We've never seen any other cyclists eating here so we could be their only customers who bike.  Parking for cars is actually very limited at this location so I say install a bike rack and they will come.  I keep wanting to mention the idea to the owners who recognize us as one of their usual customers but I hate to be pushy about an expensive bike rack in a tough economy. 

Sandwich by Karen.  Bread by Bob.  Ceramic cup by Georgia artist Ron Meyers.
A great meal it was.  As usual I have no tantalizing shots of our meal due to my high enthusiasm for diving into the meal upon its arrival.  I'll try to do better in the future.  As a consolation prize however, I offer this picture of a big sandwich I made for lunch this week with homemade honey whole wheat bread.  Have I mentioned that we've only purchased one loaf of store bought bread since October?

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Planner Guy on a Bike - Why, Yes, He is Sustainable!

I've been thinking a lot about sustainability lately, mostly on the level of psychological well-being and quality of life.  I suppose, given the economy and what may or may not be a shaky recovery, a possible shutdown of the federal government and the latest antics of just about every state legislature in the country, a lot of people are asking themselves "Is this sustainable?". 

Sustainable Bob.
The Planner Guy is a mighty sustainable guy, pictured here with his bicycle prior to heading off to work.  He models here, sustainability in the traditional sense of the word - biking work, keeping fit and healthy, in a locally designed and manufactured rain jacket, carrying a messenger bag containing a sandwich made from home baked bread.  Sustainability in action, right?  But what of the man?  How is he being sustained?  His wife??  I did encourage him to purchase the bike.  At the very least, he enjoys the exercise built into his day and not having to put gas in the Element.

My question remains, are we sustaining ourselves as human beings?  Our hearts and souls?  Try as we might to shield ourselves from the  impact of all the madness that seems to be going on around us and the duplicity of what masquerades as governing and political debate, we can only shake off so much.  Drowning ourselves in homebrew only works for a so long before it becomes counter-productive (I am well aware how crazy that sounds to some).

Bob packs his bike for Master Swim class, sustaining himself by
working toward his goal of completing the 2011 Phoenix Ironman.
So I did a little bit of reading this evening on sustainability, consulting the wisdom of the Funk and Wagnalls of the 21st Century, Wikipedia.  Seems that sustainability is difficult to define, so much so that some believe it has been reduced to a "feel-good buzzword" that either means nothing or anything you want it to, depending on whether you are speaking from the offices of Nature Conservancy or BP.  But since I'm focused on the personal well-being for me and my husband, I'm pretty attracted to those definitions associated with our relationship to the consumer culture, societal  versus our personal values, the maintenance of our internal and social/external resources, our long-term economic security. 

Sustaining ourselves with new sights and experiences.
More and more I'm re-evaluating the difference between quality of life and standard of living.  Until recently, it had not occurred to me that there was an difference between the two.  Did you realize that quality of life refers to the ability to the "general well-being of societies and individuals" and that standard of living is measured by income per person and the poverty rate?  For now we still have jobs but in these uncertain economic times how does one really measure standard of living?  I'm not going to even try.  I think I'll focus on quality of life.

Dark chocolate chips and 100% whole wheat flour chocolate chip
 cookies for sustained health and a happy tummy.
Are warm and chewy, chocolate chip cookies from the Sunset Magazine Cookie Book a measure of quality of life?  I'll ask Bob when he wakes up from . . . .

Yes, the picture is fuzzy but so is the dog.
his nap on the sofa with Ashby.  Another measure perhaps?
Bike love.
But this is a bike blog, is it not?  In conducting my one hour of research for this post I came across this on-line post from Taiga Company by Sustainability Consultant Julie Urlaub entitled 15 Reasons to Fall in Love with Your Bike.  No arguments from me.

Something tells me PJ O'Rourke doesn't know a thing about sustainability (or sadly, care) or quality of life.  If you haven't read his April 2 column in the Wall Street Journal (no surprises there) about bike lanes in NYC do so now, then read the comments.

Monday, April 4, 2011

New Bike and Old Fashion Favorites

I am loving pedaling to work my cute little red Dahon.  It's quick and nimble and easy to store in the office so it has become my regular bike to work bike.  Now that spring has at last sprung I've been pulling out my warmer weather clothes and my recent selections are giving me pause to think about how I want to dress and how I want to live. 

Black JCrew City Fit capris and black, suede ballet flats.
I bike in part because it's uncomplicated.  No worries about expensive repairs or a gas tank sitting on empty.  Unless, there is snow on the ground or 30 mile and hour winds, I just secure my purse to the bike rack or attach my pannier and go.  These days I look for the same ease in dressing; probably I always have because I see myself returning to the same pieces again and again.  I want to look nice but I don't want to have to spend too much time thinking about it. 

Khaki JCrew City Fit Capris, black Eddie Bauer tee, shaped denim jack and tie-dye cotton/linen scarf.  Tapered pant legs are perfect for a bike without a chainguard.
Since college, I've had a uniform that I return to again and again.  I flirt with other looks but I always return to fitted, flat front pants cut right above the ankles, classic boatneck, 3/4 sleeve t-shirts, with 3/4 sleeves (for the last few years my world isn't quite right if I don't have a French sailor t-shirt hanging in my closet), a shaped, dark rinse denim jacket, classic cardigans, slingback heels and a chest full of scarves for every season.  They work for me; effortless, always smart and elegant, yet comfortable.  I put on my uniform and I don't worry about my appearance for the rest of the day.

You can never go wrong with a pair of pink slingbacks.
These of pink Ann Taylor slingbacks, purchased three years ago, replaced a previous pair, almost identical, that I wore for years. Despite a chilly morning, I couldn't resist wearing them and they look great with almost everything in my closet. They are scuffed just a bit at the toes but I grabbed them this morning without a second thought. I found them brand new at a consignment shop in Phoenix for $15. I'll wear them until there is a giant hole in the sole and Bob makes me throw them out.

Just as choosing to ride a bike instead of maintaining two cars has been financially liberating, I wonder what would be freed up in my life by committing consciously to a fashion uniform.  How much energy do I waste on any given day trying to decide what to wear, especially when I'm happiest in my uniform?  Would I accomplish any unfulfilled goals (finding a more fulfilling job, achieving fluency in French?) if I could nearly dress each morning with my eyes closed?   I was able to change my relationship with the automobile to my ultimate benefit, despite living in a car-centric world.  Can I similarly change my relationship with clothes despite a life-long obsession with them and fed by the continual arrival of fashion catalogs?  Have any other chic cyclist toyed with this question or done anything about it?  Do any of you have a uniform?