new bike excitement

We picked up Zion's new bike yesterday, and I told him I'd we waking him up early today to take him for his first ride on it. He wasn't sure about that, but when the time came he got up promptly enough and we got going in time to hit the trails by 6:30. He got into it right away; how could you not?!

Zion biking up a hill at sunrise

the dawn of a new era

In our excitement to get going we forgot both masks and helmets, so we took things a little easier that we might have otherwise. But that was fine, since Zion's new ride is like twice as big as the one he was on before, so that took some getting used to. Also the brake levers are on the very edge of too far away for his little hands. There were no disasters, though, and the only time he fell he very cleverly landed on his belly and chin, so no brain damage. We stayed out for about an hour, then came back to a breakfast of pancakes: as Harvey described it, "if I can't ride with you than at least I want to cook!" I think I'm doing something right as a parent...

Harvey was rewarded for his generous nature by the arrival of his own new bike this evening. He and I drove to Newton to pick it up at dinner time, and then he and Zion were both so excited they rode for about an hour in the gathering dusk, including a 20-minute loop around our local woods (I think lights will need to be our next purchase...). Not to be left out, Elijah got his own bike out and rode with me as I walked the dogs through the woods after supper. He's been hesitant to ride off-road in the past with his little wheels, but with the motivation of trying to keep up with big brothers he did great! Both of them getting new bikes within the space of two days has been a little tough for him: while we were picking up Zion's yesterday and looking around at the other things at the store he was heard to remark, "I want something new!"

Now tomorrow we have a date to meet friends at Russell Mill Pond to really take the new bikes through their paces—pump track and trails both (Lijah will have to be left behind, sadly; but his time will come!). Expect to hear more on the subject of mountain bicycling in coming weeks.

Zion halfway up a big rock, his bike leaning below him

loving the lifestyle

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bedtime hilarity

We had a full day today—besides all the regular stuff we went to pick up Zion's bike, the boys came with me to Market Basket for the first time in over six months, Harvey started a Zoom class about Ancient History, and we had people over this evening to share in the joy of our equinox fire (which required a fair bit of cleaning and preparation; we haven't had any adults over it a long time!). So it's maybe understandable that when I shared my ability to speak in ubbi dubbi at bedtime the boys thought it was pretty funny. It's nice to know that I can still surprise them. Also it's nice that Harvey was able to calm down enough to breathe so he was able to go to sleep, too!

we need more bicycles

With Harvey and I doing lots of off-road cycling, and a few of our friends into it too, Zion started to think he'd like to join us. Only he needed to upgrade his bicycle: the bike he's been riding is heavy and its 20-inch wheels aren't really enough for rocks and roots on the trail—and worse, while it's ostensibly a 7-speed it's impossible for Zion to shift. So we started looking for a new bike for him. Actually a new one, unlike every other bike he's ever owned; not having paid money for a bike since 2005, we thought the budget could stretch as far as a good mountain bike for our beloved middle child. Only then it turned out that 24-inch bikes are another unobtainable pandemic shortage item. After many hours of searching, though, we found a bike available at REI, placed the order, and rejoiced that soon three Archibalds would be hitting the trails together! Then the next day Harvey broke his derailleur hanger.

Ordinarily that wouldn't put his bike out of commission for long; after all, derailleur hangers are meant to break and be replaceable. In order to make it happen quickly we brought it in to the bike shop to ask them to do the repairs (he also needed new shift cable housings). Sadly, the bike shop was not at all helpful. Since the bike is so old (2005, actually; see above) they suggested that the part needed would not be able to be located; and they further suggested that a bike of this vintage would be better scrapped and replaced entirely. That may work for the rich folks who come in to look at the four-figure road bikes they stock, but not so much for us. We're savers, and repairers! We don't need new bikes! Except for the one we had ordered for Zion. But then, after some discussion, we decided that since Harvey is the one who's already been putting in hours riding he deserved a new bike of his own. Extra-small adult bikes are much less scarce than kids' bikes (at least to someone with Leah's exceptional online shopping skills) so we no sooner made the decision than the order was placed.

It was exciting. We kept looking at the pictures of the bikes. And waiting. All this happened twelve to eight days ago, and we still have no new bicycles. It turns out "in stock" means that the pieces of the machine exist in a warehouse somewhere in the United States, but we find it takes some time for said pieces to be shipped to a store and put together into something a person could ride. The anticipation is hard, and even harder is not riding all this time; this must be the first time Harvey's gone a week without getting on a bike since he first learned to ride, about half his lifetime ago. And the weather's been so perfect! The worst part is, neither company gave us anything like a firm date that we could expect the bike to be available, so there's a new disappointment every day. But it can't be long now!

During the waiting period—and technically we're also still waiting for the bike shop to call with a quote for fixing Harvey's older bike, which they said they would do if they could locate the part—I did some research online into bike maintenance and repairs that we could do at home. And it didn't take long for me to locate the amazing resource that is derailleurhanger.com, and once there to locate the part we need. So now the plan is to fix the old bike ourselves. Then we'll have a backup, which is comforting: I don't ever want Harvey to be bikeless like this again!

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moments from the week

Zion balancing on a log above a marsh in the late afternoon sun

marsh voyaging

Moments from the past week.

Zion and Lijah high in a tree on the riverbank

climbing by the river

backyard gathering with friends at dusk

in-person gathering

Lijah grimacing at the smoke while toasting a marshmallow

a hot fire, but too much smoke

Lijah jumping on top of a big pile of weeds

compacting the compost

Lijah and Blue checking out a chimney in the woods

giant hearth

boys and dogs resting at the edge of Fairhaven Bay

Fairhaven Bay rest stop

Blue in the driver's seat of the van, Scout in the passenger seat with Leah

can dogs drive?

the dogs looking at the Sudbury River

a week of rivers

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how big is the galaxy?

We were reading a Calvin and Hobbes comic and Lijah got interested in the size of the galaxy. I let him know that I could look it up and tell him, but it wouldn't be a meaningful number. He still wanted to know. So I started typing into my phone, and read out the Google suggestions as they came up. "Size of..." gave "size of queen bed", "size of king bed", and "size of twin bed". "Size of the..." predicted us to be wondering about the sun, the moon, or the earth. "Size of the g..." gave us "great lakes", "grand canyon", and, finally, "galaxy." Reading the wikipedia page we learned that the Milky Way galaxy is between 170,000 and 200,000 light years across; a light year is 5.88 trillion miles; so in units we can comprehend, the diameter of the galaxy is somewhere in the neighborhood of one quintillion miles.

"So," said Lijah, who never misses a trick, "it's bigger than a twin bed?"