if I can do it, why couldn't they?!

So the two older boys have new bikes, and they're great! They're already delightfully dirty from many rides. But I still wanted to fix the other one—the one that the folks at the bike shop said was too old to do anything with. They wouldn't be able to get the part. We figure it'll be nice to have a spare, and we already have someone lined up who might want to borrow it. So after waiting a week to see if the shop would contact us, I ordered what I needed to make the most essential repairs: the shifter cables and housing from Amazon, and the derailleur hanger from deraillerhangers.com. Amazon is Amazon—I wish I didn't have to use it, but it's nice to be able to actually shop for different brands of cable rather than just take whatever the shop has. Derailleurhangers.com is amazing: I placed the order at 7:30 in the morning on Friday, it was in the mail by 12:30, and it got here yesterday (Monday) mid-day. So yesterday evening saw me down in the basement taking the broken parts of the bike off and and putting the new ones on, with nothing but a tiny bit of youtubing to instruct me. And I'll tell you, dear reader, it worked! The bike is now, if not as good as new, at least as good as it was before Harvey broke two parts of it within a couple weeks. It can now shift into all the gears.

It's kind of empowering. I mean, I've always been able to replace a tube or brake pads, and in later life I've moved on to changing worn out brake cables and cassettes, but I've never taken the time to figure out how derailleurs are supposed to go, or how brake or shift levers do their thing. Yesterday's work definitely felt like a step up. And now that we've got new bikes, I guess I should be learning how to keep them in good shape! I'm not saying I want a cable to fail on one of the other bikes soon, but if it does I now have the thirty-dollar cable cutters/crimpers to get everything back the way it should be! (speaking of which, crimping the little metal dealy on the end of the shift cable yesterday was about the most satisfying thing I've experienced all month). I'm already inviting folks to bring their bikes over for tune-ups! All I need now is one of those clampy work stands...

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our day at the ocean

Summer is over—we celebrated the equinox last Tuesday evening with a fire and lights. We did a lot less swimming than we usually do, and visited fewer beaches, but at least we got one solid day of real beach fun in, back at the beginning of the month when we were on the Cape. We love Leah's parents house in Truro and the easy walk to the beach on the bay side, but we do crave adventure now and again, so on the last day of the trip we packed up the bikes and a picnic lunch and headed for the ocean waves. As a kid I loved going to Coast Guard Beach in Eastham, not because the beach itself is anything special—the whole stretch from Eastham to Provincetown is pretty much the same—but because you can get there on a delightful bike path over the dunes. Well worth a bit of a drive from Truro. And this year all three boys could ride it!

Well, almost ride it. Lijah did need to walk up some of the steeper hills; but he pushed on like a trooper, and I guess he thought it was worth it when we reached the end of the path (how is it riding to the ocean ends with a steep uphill?!) and heard the sound of the waves. We've been to the real ocean before, but somehow every year the boys' expectations are reset by the mild waves of Rockport harbor and Cape Cod Bay so they're able to be delighted anew by the real swells of the Atlantic Ocean as they crash into the Outer Cape.

Delighted, and unnerved too—at least at first. The camera can't really capture how big the waves looked that day when you were actually down there in the water, but suffice it to say that you needed to keep an eye on them at all times if you were anywhere near the waterline. Zion was the first one to venture in wholeheartedly.

Zion bracing to take a big wave

he's well-braced and ready

It was fun challenging ourselves to stand up to the breakers, but before long I needed to get in a little deeper. As steep as the shore is there you can get past the break only ten or fifteen feet out, and then you can float easily if thrillingly over the waves just as they rise. Harvey and Zion were a little unsure at first, but they joined me before too long. All that swimming practice this winter really paid off! Seeing the fun we were having, Lijah wanted to join in, so I held him where I could jump to keep our heads about the water.

Harvey and Zion floating in a wave

it's hard to tell, but that's a big wave!

Of course, the day wasn't totally without mishaps. We weren't just floating; some of the waves we tried to body-surf, and while it mostly went fine there were times we messed up and got tumbled. And some waves got us even when we weren't trying to ride them! Both me and Zion were bloodied—his was worse—and all of us had water and sand driven into our nose and ears. One wave in particular caused chaos, and not just for us. It was so big that I couldn't jump above it, but with Lijah in my arms I couldn't swim either. So I threw him over the worst of it, and mostly caught him when he came down... but I was also being tumbled head over heels along with everyone else. Then I couldn't rescue him right away because the violence of the wave had pulled my shorts down; that took a moment to fix.

I don't think anyone noticed though, since the whole beach had been pretty smashed: the wave overran lots of chairs and blankets and knocked over kids and old people. One little girl lost her glasses. Lots of people tried to help her find them, but they were gone for good. Her family stayed at the beach for a while, but I don't think she had any more fun. We had an easier time recovering—all of us except for Zion, at least. He held a grudge against the waves for the rest of the afternoon, especially when the drawing he was trying to make in the smooth sand kept getting washed out. Still, he let the other three of us play for a while more.

The problem with the beach is that when you're done having a great time you find yourself filled with sand and encrusted with salt, and changing into clothes and getting onto the bike again doesn't seem like the most fun. Especially since fifty percent of our towels had been soaked by waves. But we made it happen, and some of us even enjoyed the bike ride back. We all enjoyed the post-beach ice cream. That was a summer day.

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moments from the week

Elijah walking on a log in a big open marsh

exploring

Moments from the past week.

tomato and pepper plants under tarps

first frost

Harvey paddling the canoe in shallow water by a muddy bank

just barely afloat

Blue curled up in a little basket

I guess he fits...

a fire, globe lights, and people in our backyard

equinox party

the dogs walking by a grafitti'ed old barn

rural urbex

Zion standing on a rock at the edge of a pond, Blue looking

king of something

Elijah lying on the kitchen table doing a math worksheet

traditional schooling

Harvey and Zion with friends by the edge of a pond

in-person co-op means catching frogs together!

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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!