back to baking

After 12 cold oven-less days, we're back in action on the baking front with a replacement installed this morning. (Remember when I mentioned our oven seemed like it was on the way out? It was. It never started again after I wrote those words.) After we burned off the foul-smelling chemicals that new ovens apparently come with, the first thing I baked was the batch of sugar cookies that I put in the fridge back on February 13, with the thought of having them for Valentines Day. The two-week-old dough was a little hard to roll out, but the cookies came out fine. Then I made bread. It was kind of rough around here without bread—we did alright with one package of rolls from the store, some bagels from church, and lots of tortillas cooked on the stovetop, but I'm very glad to have real sandwich bread available again. Just in time for our lunch out at homeschool science tomorrow.

maybe I should get a bell

Yesterday it occurred to me that three out of the four "altercations" I've had on the bike path in ten years of cycle communing came when people got mad at me for passing them without warning (the fourth was when someone called me out for drafting behind him, and he was totally right to do so—I don't do that anymore!). There was that "on your right" guy, and then another time I almost got in a fight with some office bro who yelled at me to get a bell. I was thinking about all this because the fourth incident happened yesterday morning.

I was riding along on the bike path just east of Arlington Center. Just by Spy Pond I caught up to a gentleman wearing street clothes and riding a road bike, who was moving at a moderate pace at the far left-hand edge of the lane. There were a few walkers on the path and we were coming up to the crossing at Linwood Street, so I slowed down to stay behind him (at a reasonable distance, as per the previous paragraph!). He must have known I was there; the bike I'm riding these days has an audible ratchet noise when coasting, and I as slow as he was going I was mostly coasting. Far from moving over, though, he moved even more to the left: a foot or so into the opposite lane. So I didn't pass him. After we crossed Lake Street he was going slower than ever and I saw my moment—since he'd rung his bell when passing a walker I knew he was that sort of person so I gave him a quiet "on your left" as I started to go around. I guess he didn't hear me, because as I came up on him he moved even more left and yelled at me in an aggrieved tone, "let me know when you're passing!"

As I went by I told him that I did, and I apologized that he hadn't heard me, all in kind of a rush since I was already leaving him far in the rear. And I'm not good at saying things fast. Which made me wonder. What was his behavior all about? I had thought at first that he just wasn't paying attention, which is why he was taking up the whole path in the manner of a six-year-old out on a two-wheeler for the first time. But he hit me with the angry comment so fast I couldn't help but think that he must have known I was there the whole time! That made me wonder... was he trying to keep me from passing? Or trap me into passing without letting him know so he could make a remark? I don't know.

I do know why I don't ring a bell or say "on your left" every time I pass someone: it's super annoying (that, and I don't have a bell). When I'm riding I stay over on the right hand side of the path, and I trust anyone who's going faster than me can pass without comment and without any problem. I want to say that at least half of the people who do say "on your left" do it just to point out that they're passing you, and therefore are better cyclists. Not necessary, since their superior speed shows that on its own. The only time any notice might be necessary is when the rider being passed is coming up on an obstacle that might make them swerve—but in that case, it's clearly the responsibility of the overtaking rider to hold up until the way is clear. Without any verbal communication needed. Especially not yelling.

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moments from the week

kids doing art at our kitchen table

art cooperation

Moments from the past week.

a cozy reading set-up for our lesson on trees

soft space for tree reading

Lijah sledding down a narrow band of snow on a grassy hill

just enough snow

Harvey and a friend looking at an iPad at a Pokemon event

while not playing Pokemon

Zion in a mask and cape at Emily's birthday party

winterman!

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eggs are in

Now that the light is returning, the hens have started laying in earnest. We missed our trip to the egg farm last Thursday because our homeschool day in Concord was cancelled, but that didn't matter—we ate the regular amount of eggs this week and we still have almost a full dozen waiting on the counter (as I think about it, it helps that our broken oven is keeping me from baking anything...). As they collect the eggs the boys have restarted the recording that we did a couple years ago, keeping track of each day's counts. We're planning to make a graph when we have enough data, but I can already say that it will have a curious spike in it: a couple days ago we discovered a cache of eggs hidden underneath the hen house, and with some good careful work with a long stick the boys brought in nine that day. After that we left a couple old eggs in the nesting boxes to let the hens know where they're supposed to be doing their laying. It seems to be working. A great start to the farming season... now it's time to get some seeds going!

apprentices

Blogging is hard work, so I'm training the kids up to help me out. For the last few weeks I've helped them do some journaling—taking a couple minutes in the morning to think of something worth noting down from the last couple days. Here's Lijah's from today (as scribed by me):

Yesterday we went to Grandma's house. We went to see the ice. We went to the ice and adventured! Zion was smashing the ice. I was sliding on the ice. It was very very fun!

All I need to do now is teach him to type and I'm out of a job!