Friends

…and I don’t mean the TV show and I don’t mean Quakers.

A blogger I follow recently referred to me as a friend (and I agree). That got me to thinking. That, and a visit out of the blue last night.

My daughter has “Internet friends” all over the world; people they have never met in the flesh, but many they have met face-to-face via FaceTime, so we know they are who they say they are (as much as we know that about anybody, but that’s another story).

That reality had always been foreign to me until I started blogging. Now I have people all over the country whom I would call friends, or at least friendly acquaintances, though we have never been face-to-face even on FaceTime.

My best friend R from my ten years in California appeared out of the blue last night. I got a FaceTime request from an unknown number. I declined it and said “Who are you?” He was an hour and a half away and passing through. We had a great walk and talk in the park a few blocks from my house. We stayed several feet apart. He got back in the RV and disappeared. I walked home for dinner.

Three of us (R and F and I) used to get in hot water together regularly in the Bay Area. I mean that literally. We would go to a hot tub place, sit in the tub together and talk, then continue the talk over dinner. (Truth be told, I’m more of a sauna guy, but hey, this was California;) We asked each other the kinds of questions that made us think and feel and know each other and ourselves more deeply than usual.

R and I once drove 50 miles to a jazz concert. We argued economics (or discussed passionately) for most of the drive and part of dinner. We heard and saw a great concert, then continued the discussion on the drive home and sitting parked in front of my house for too long. As I walked into the house I realized I had just learned something about love. I had spent my formative years (18 to 30) in a close-knit community, where we agreed on most things and our disagreements were, in the grand scheme of things, pretty small. Now I was having a disagreement that was pretty big; but I realized that I could disagree about an idea and love the person speaking it.

This is a friend to whom, when I am gone, I think I may be invisible. We have had no contact in over ten years. But when we are together, he is here 100%. He is fully present – so I don’t begrudge him the fact that he is fully present somewhere else with someone else when I am 2000 miles away.

Those years from 18-30 were present in our talk. The park contains a memorial to an old friend. We had a community of interlocking organizations and friendships. (See previous post and reference to the New Nation – building a new society in the shell of the old.) I initially knew Orly through an organization I worked for, People’s Office. We were a community center providing some of the services that the internet provides now. If you needed someone to fix your plumbing, Orly was the guy, and we had his number at our fingertips. Need to get bailed out of jail? Find out what’s happening in town tonight? Need to get your car fixed at the Co-op Garage? Having a bad acid trip? We could help you. If you had a problem we hadn’t run across before, we’d find a way to help you. Several organizations got their start that way.

Later Orly apprenticed to the electrician who wired the co-op when we got a new building. That electrician happened to have a PhD, but he’d put himself through school as an electrician and liked it. It was only years later that he worked as a psychotherapist, using that degree. Working at the neighborhood grocery co-op, I knew pretty much everybody (and what they ate), and they knew me. S liked to work Sunday mornings so she could see who came in together to pick up bagels and the New York Times. She thus knew the neighborhood gossip first. It was that kind of town.

Moving back after ten years in California, my re-introduction to the community was Orly’s funeral. He died during a heat wave just after I moved back. We had a canoe funeral procession down the river. His flower-filled canoe was towed between two others. We rounded the bend out of the river and into the lake, pulled up on shore at the park, and had a big potluck. It seems that everyone I knew was there. I was home. Orly and the canoe are memorialized on a plaque on a park bench right where the river flows into the lake (where we took the walk back at the beginning of this post). That park is also home to the Marquette Waterfront Festival, with which we welcome each summer (the weekend that school gets out).

So there are that kind of friends, too. Those whose lives weave in and out of our own for years. Those we may never know well, but who make our lives richer anyway. Those we have a deep connection with somewhere along the way, but not forever, but they are still part of that fabric. Then there are friends like the half-fast cycling club, folks I’ve ridden with for 10-45 years. Sometimes a bike ride is the best place to talk.

A song from the Women’s Movement of the 1970s. I couldn’t find a recording by the writer, Ginni Clemmens (without buying the whole album). She was a Chicago folksinger in the 60s and a stalwart of women’s music in the 70s. She died in 2003 on Maui.

You may have noticed that I refer to living people only by an initial and dead people by name. I guess dead people can’t defend themselves and living people may not want to be identified here, so I don’t name them without consent, and I don’t tend to contact them to ask for consent.

Happy Father’s Day!

I’m not one of those people who thinks you have to be a parent to be fulfilled. I’m one of those people who thinks you have to be fulfilled to be a parent. It is fine to not want to be a parent – and even better not to be one if you don’t want to. Your kids will know.

I realized early in life that I didn’t want to be my dad and it was no better to be my anti-dad. I had to learn how to be me and be a dad. That took until I was 40.

I also want to acknowledge those who never had a dad. Maybe you had a father, one who provided DNA, but not a dad. Wil Wheaton says it better than I ever could, so go read this.

For those of you who are dads, happy day! I had a great day and I hope you did, too. I started with the laundry and breakfast (the usual Sunday) and then picked strawberries at our CSA farm. They’ve been growing organic vegetables for about 45 years and I’ve been buying from them for about 45 years. In 2016, they were named “Organic Farmers of the Year“. While you might not be close enough to buy from them, check out community-supported agriculture in your neck of the woods. There are plenty of excellent farmers out there. CSA, for those unfamiliar, is a way for the community to help capitalize farming and share some of the risk. We pay upfront for the season (there are variations), since farmers face major costs at the time of year when they lack income. If it’s a great year for strawberries, we get lots of strawberries. If not, we may get a lot of spinach that year. Each week is a new adventure and a lesson in seasonal eating.

When I got home I picked some rhubarb to go with the fresh strawberries. Strawberry season is short here (maybe three weeks) and there is not always a good overlap with rhubarb. I made a strawberry-rhubarb pie, strawberry-rhubarb sauce, a smoothie, a gallon of frozen berries, and my wife made strawberry shortcake. The pie still has to cool. We had a Zoom lunch with the kids and my daughter-in-law’s father. Later we re-enacted becoming a father, without the kids.

I am not a fan of single-use kitchen gadgets. One doesn’t need 37 assorted knives. An 8 inch French knife (nowadays known as a chef’s knife), a good paring knife, a serrated knife to cut bread; most of the rest are superfluous. I will admit I like a few single-use items – a strawberry huller and a cherry pitter come in pretty handy. A good rolling pin and a pastry cloth. You can tell I like to bake pies.

The Summer Solstice seemed like a good time for the New Glarus Ride. I wrote of it last year. The wild roses were in bloom this week. Dougherty Creek Road was newly chip-sealed. The sound of pea gravel striking the underside of a carbon fiber downtube is not one of my favorite sounds; but it beats the ride of many years ago when the chip-seal was so fresh that I had to throw away my tires after the ride – they were thickly coated in tar and gravel that I couldn’t get off. Usually they use oil instead of tar. The climb at the end of Dougherty Creek (up to Prairie View Road) required staying in the saddle. Luckily, most of the climb is after the turn onto Prairie View. I love when the road name tells you about itself.

The ride ends near a pizza parlor. They have good pizza and 80 beers. I looked over as I rode past. No masks, tables too close for comfort. I passed. I’m not ready to eat in a restaurant yet, not even outside. Maybe if the servers were masked and the tables farther apart. The next day I mentioned this at work, and all of my co-workers agreed – they aren’t ready, either. I guess working in a hospital does that to you.

The long and winding road – nothing beats a downhill S-bend!

Next weekend would be the beginning of Co-op Camp Sierra. Camp is virtual this year, like much of life. I’ll probably drink my morning coffee out on the front porch, as we would at camp. The ride back home to the Bay Area after camp follows the route from this song by Kate Wolf. (The title is misspelled in the video – it’s “Pacheco”.) Mentioning Kate Wolf requires a shout-out to Nina Gerber. Nina was Kate’s accompanist until Kate died, then branched out. She always played the right note and, more importantly, knew how to use the silence between notes. Highly under-rated by the general public, she is highly sought-after by other musicians.

from coopcamp.com. Not the porch for my morning coffee, but for afternoon fermented grape juice.

The Great Divide

We recently learned that our half-fast friend Jeremy is riding the Great Divide Mountain Bike Route. This trail goes from Canada to Mexico. We’re following him via GPS and he has entered the US and is at Whitefish Lake in Montana. The plan is to average 100 miles/day which I, personally, consider insane. Or, to put it another way, this guy is an animal. We didn’t ride that much crossing the continent on (mostly) paved roads!

We’ve put out a call and are hoping for dispatches from the road to run here. Meanwhile, another great divide song that we didn’t use last year while crossing the divide ourselves.

We crossed the Great Divide Trail exactly a year ago, in Lincoln, MT (home of the Unabomber). He’ll pass through Lincoln just over a year after we did, but he’s doing it the hard way.

Head ‘em off at the past!*

Last call for this weekend – the half-fast cycling club has adopted a section of County Highway F at Brigham Park. This means we are responsible for keeping it clean, and our first cleanup is scheduled for Sunday, June 30, at noon. We’ll meet at the park (or I can take folks in the van). The Highway Department has supplied us with safety vests, road signs, trash bags, and gloves. I’d like to know how many are coming so I have enough vests. Let me know if you will join us (via the contact page or any other way you may already know for reaching the hfcc).

*Photo from one year ago today, in case that reference was too obscure.

No Hope/Ride Your Age

I spent a recent Sunday morning exploring the area around the towns of Hope and Cottage Grove. The ride started with a minimal plan. Head out of town. On the way out, I decided Buckeye Road was the way to go. On the way out Buckeye, I decided to ride south to Stoughton. On the way to Stoughton, Sigglekow Road looked too pretty to pass up. And so it went. I rode on Hope, South Hope, Vilas-Hope, and No Hope Roads. It was the first day to give a hint of summer, with the temperature in the 8os and a brisk southerly wind. With that wind I figured I’d have a tailwind to push me home, but my loop ended up going more northerly than I thought it would, so I started and ended with a headwind. As I rode past a pond, I saw hawks circling. That put me in mind of Kate Wolf.

Too late…you missed the hawks.

Cresting a hill, I came upon this glasswork in a front yard. I wondered if it’s the work of Dale Chihuly, who studied glassblowing here under Prof Harvey Littleton, who was known as the “Father of the Studio Glass Movement.” It may be a student of his or a copy of his style (or someone with a lower budget than the other works of his I’ve seen). We also have a scientific glassblower in town, Tracy Drier. Having once plumbed a wall that I wanted to encase in plexiglass so others could see it, I understand the aesthetic appeal of work not meant as art.

It was only a hint of summer. More chilly and rainy weather followed.

The following Sunday saw me on the Bombay Bicycle Club‘s “Martinsville Meander”, and meander we did. The route included an “Alpe d’Huez option” with three steep climbs over a ridge arranged back-to-back-to-back. The climbs didn’t seem too bad this time. They were downright fun. I thought I might even be ready for the Horribly Hilly Hundreds. Then I realized I still had 35 miles to get back to town. I ended up riding my age. I still have a long way to go to match my State Senator, who rides his age every year for his birthday. Fred Risser is now 92.

It seems that all roads lead to Vermont Church, even though Vermont Church Road is the only one that goes by there. The church sits at the top of a hill. That was one of the many hills we climbed Sunday. It seems that Christians think God is in heaven and heaven is “up there”, so building your church on the top of the hill brings you closer to God. I don’t know what the speed of prayer is, but it seems the difference between a hill and a valley wouldn’t affect transit times all that much.

Speaking of religion, I’ve been watching MASH reruns lately. Anybody else notice that Father Mulcahy is pretty hot in a tight t-shirt? Must be some heavy lifting saving souls in a war zone. He’s got some nice arms there.

My daughter stage-managed a production of Sister Act (the musical based on the movie – how’s that for backward?). When Deloris decides to go straight and Sister Mary Robert considers entering civilian life, Deloris bequeaths her “FM boots” to the young novice. Sister Mary Roberts asks what FM means. Deloris replies “Fu..ather Mulcahy!) Being a college production, no one knew who Father Mulcahy was. They did know what FM means.

We also passed a church at a remote crossroads. It got me to wondering…we build our bars right in the center of town, but our churches at a remote crossroads. Does that mean we’re more embarrassed to be seen coming out of church than out of a bar? Is that just a Wisconsin thing? Just thinking out loud here…