Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Back on the bike

Last spring, David and I bought new road bikes. We bought them off eBay (brand-new, still in the box) and put them together ourselves, with help from a friend who knows way more than we do.

We'd shopped around at a few different stores here in Indy, but since we just wanted a bike for some exercise and to possibly compete in a couple of triathlons, and we weren't sure if it would become our new favorite hobby, we couldn't justify spending $1000+ each (what many places said we'd probably want to spend). So we found much cheaper ones on eBay. I think mine was about $300 and David's was about $500 (and those prices include shipping). They were pretty basic road bikes, but they fit our requirements.

We did a few rides on the Monon throughout the spring and summer, and David competed in a triathlon in April. But as we got closer to our July wedding, we got too busy with wedding details to get to ride as much as we wanted. And after the wedding, we were living in the condo (which I bought a couple of years ago and where David moved in with me when we got married) and our bikes were still over at the house ("the house" being the place that David bought several years ago and that we rent out now), and we just never got around to getting them.

Last weekend, we agreed that it was high time to get the bikes out and start riding again. We could've put them on the bike rack on one of our cars, but the house and the condo are only about four or five miles apart, so we decided to just ride them over. May as well get a little exercise while moving them, right?

To avoid both traffic and hot weather, we decided to pick up the bikes on Sunday morning. We planned out our route to avoid busier roads. We made plans to pick up David's car, which we'd be driving to the house, later in the day. We stopped by the afternoon before to put air in the tires and make sure the bikes were ready to go.

We got up at about 6:30 on Sunday morning. We got dressed and got our helmets. I got my water bottle ready. (David refused his, saying it was only a few miles and about 20 minutes and that he would be fine.) We left the condo at about 6:45 and headed to the house.

At about 7 a.m., we left the house. We got to the condo about 20 or 25 minutes later. Easy enough, right?


The ride was not fun.... at least not for me. I hadn't ridden my bike since the previous summer and didn't realize how out of shape I was. I work out several times a week, but apparently it takes a little time to get back into biking shape (or at least that's what I told myself at the time).

It also helps to remember how to work all the gears.

I felt like I was working so hard, pedaling like crazy, but I was getting nowhere. David was behind me, but not by much. I told him he could go in front of me, but he refused. He was trying to be nice, but I felt badly for slowing him down so much. And I was mad at myself for apparently not being able to ride a bike at a faster pace.

The road, which usually flies by in no time while I'm in the car, seemed to go on and on forever in front of me. I kept pedaling, but my bike was moving way too slowly. Why wasn't I going anywhere? Why did my legs hurt so much? Why didn't David just pass me and leave me behind in my anger and misery?

Perhaps I'm being dramatic when I use words like "misery." And of course David wouldn't leave me behind, and of course I didn't want him to. But a lot of thoughts go through your head when you're tired and frustrated like I was.

During the last two minutes or so of the ride, just when I was thinking, "Finally! We're almost there!" I suddenly realized something about the gears--there were a lot of them! I'd stayed in a smaller range, switching between just a few gears, but then, with a quick flick of the wrist, the bike was in a gear that it hadn't experienced since last summer. And suddenly, it was easy! I was pedaling at an easier pace than before, but covering much more ground much more quickly. This wasn't tough! This was easy! This was fun!

Oh, hey, there's the entrance to the subdivision.

I pulled in to our driveway, glad the ride was over, but more than anything, relieved that I now knew how to work my bike. I realized that I was also looking forward to the next ride.

Oh, and I think you should know that the first thing I did when I got home was gulp down about half the water in my water bottle. Good thing I brought it. Too bad I was too busy being irritated at my bike and myself to drink any water during the ride.

I'm glad I'm more capable than I originally realized of riding a bike. I'm glad that I figured out the gears. I'm a little embarrassed to admit that it took me the majority of the ride to figure out the problem. My legs hurt just thinking about how hard I was pedaling and how slowly I was moving. But I'm relieved that upcoming rides should involve a more knowledgeable rider and a little less pain.

A little later that morning, we went to the gym. I usually go to yoga class on Sundays, but on this particular morning, I skipped that and instead went straight to the pool. After a rough time with the bike, I needed to do a workout that I had a little more experience with and that most likely wouldn't leave me feeling dumb or embarrassed.

I think I've mentioned before that I swam competitively growing up. I hadn't swum in probably six months (other than fun swimming at the pool), but on this particular morning, I just jumped right in and started doing laps with no problem at all. After 15 years of competitive swimming, it takes a lot more than six months to lose any skills you learned along the way.

You know what they say--it's like riding a bike.

Monday, June 11, 2012

A tale of two chairs... and a dog

Hello, Monday. Hope you all had a good weekend. My weekend was full of pool time, grilling out, working out, and yard sales.

That last one is where the chairs come in. A few neighborhoods around us were having their community yard sales on Saturday, so David and I checked out a few lots of them before heading to the gym.

And we weren't looking for just anything, either. Oh no. I was on a mission.... to find the perfect chair.

Not just any chair, either. Something to go with the desk off of the family room. Remember this picture? (Hint: It's from this post.)

Well, I wanted to find the chair to replace the blue office chair. I was thinking some sort of older chair, maybe originally from a dining room table, that I could paint and reupholster. I plan to paint the desk as well.

So off we went on Saturday morning, looking for my chair. And we found one! It was at a yard sale, and the best part? It was free! FREE.

It was also broken. That explains the low price.

David and I studied it but couldn't decide whether or not it would be fixable. I decided to take it anyway. Our brother-in-law would be over that afternoon, and he's more knowledgeable about these things.

I picked up the chair, told the guy I was taking his free chair, thanked him, and headed down the sidewalk, proud of my new "purchase." David offered to carry it for me, but I insisted. He then made fun of me for going to yard sales and coming back with only a broken chair. I told him to just wait and see.

That evening, our brother-in-law determined that the chair was not fixable. Bummer. I'd already planned how I was going to fix it up and everything. But apparently the only option would be to make a whole new chair leg, something I couldn't do and he couldn't do. It wasn't worth it, and sadly, the chair had to go out to the curb that afternoon to be picked up Monday morning with the trash.

(I would show you a picture of the chair, but I don't want it to break your heart the way it broke mine.)

My mourning didn't last too long, however. It was replaced with hope when David's brother, Dan, came over that evening. He told me that he'd seen a similar chair set out with the trash in another nearby neighborhood when he'd gone running earlier that afternoon.

I'm not above Dumpster-diving, so I knew I needed what I needed to do.

I got in my car and headed over to that neighborhood, following Dan's directions. I passed by the chairs (there were actually two of them, exactly the same), and saw that they weren't quite was I was looking for. They looked a little too small to fit well at the desk, and it didn't look like the seat could be removed to be reupholstered. Granted, I did just stop briefly on the side of the road, but I still got a good enough look to know they weren't going to work. It was time to go home.

I was disappointed, but then something happened that made the drive TOTALLY WORTH IT.

I was headed out of the neighborhood when I saw a woman in her driveway, playing with her dog. The dog looked like a Goldendoodle. I think I've mentioned before (#25) that I'd like to get a Goldendoodle someday. David had told me before that he'd seen one in this neighborhood when he was running, and now I got to see it too!

I slowed down as I drove by the house, half-tempted to pull over and talk to the woman about her dog. But it seemed like she was giving me a weird look--probably trying to figure out why I was stopping at her house--so I drove away. I couldn't help imagining our potential conversation in my head.

Me: Excuse me.

Her (warily): Yes?

Me: Is that a Goldendoodle?

Her (obviously relieved that I wasn't trying to stalk or kill her): Oh! Yes, it is.

Me: It's so cute! My husband and I are talking about getting a Goldendoodle.

Her: Yes, they're great dogs. Say, do you live around here?

Me: Actually, no. I'm in the neighborhood across the street. I'm just here for a bit of Dumpster-diving before the trash gets picked up tomorrow.

Her (scared again and quickly herding the dog toward the door): Oh...

I promise I'm not creepy or stalkerish. I just really like Goldendoodles, and I'm not above getting a new-to-me chair from someone else's trash.

Anyway, that was my weekend.... two (well, I guess three) failed chair attempts and one Goldendoodle sighting. Oh, and the other fun stuff I already mentioned (like cookouts and pool time).

How was your weekend?

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Cleaning out the closet

So remember how I mentioned that we were on a mission to get organized, simplified, and downsized? Well, last week I took another step.... by cleaning out my closet... and dresser... and under the bed.

I went through all of the clothes in my closet and got rid of anything that didn't fit or that I no longer liked or wore. I was ruthless.... well, sort of. Here's some of what I ended up with:

A couple of nights before, I'd gone through these dresses (I kept some and got rid of the rest):

The shoes:

And the jewelry:

There were a few purses, too, but I didn't get a picture of them.

Some of these things went to the consignment shop. Others will be sold online. Others will be donated, and still others will be thrown away.

Sometimes it's tough getting rid of things. For example, there were a couple of shirts that I wanted to keep, not necessarily because I liked them all that much, but because they were my go-to shirts if I needed something to wear in a hurry. And that's not the right reason to keep something.

Here are a couple of rules I established for myself to make sure I tossed all the things I really needed to:
  • Don't keep it just because it fits. Sure, something may fit, but if you don't like it or have no reason to wear it, do you really need it? Like I mentioned in the example above, the two shirts that I wanted to keep both fit fine, but I didn't really enjoy wearing them.... I'd had them a while, worn them plenty of times, and was bored with them. It was time to move on.... meaning, it was time to get rid of them (and perhaps use the money I made there to buy new--or new-to-me--shirts).
  • Make sure you don't have three more just like it. It was easier for me to get rid of a black sweater when I already had a very similar black sweater that I was keeping. I got rid of a plain, long-sleeved, white shirt.... but I had two more that were a lot like it.
  • Ask yourself: When was the last time you wore it? If you're hesitant to throw something out, but you realize you've been pondering that move the last three times you've cleaned out your closet, then either you clean out your closet way too often or else you really need to get rid of that article of clothing.
  • Think about how you can get money for it. Having trouble letting go of something that you know needs to go? Here's a little encouragement: There's a good chance you can make some money off of it. Many, if not most, articles of clothing can be resold at a consignment shop, in a yard sale, or online (like on eBay or craigslist). Or you can donate the clothing to a place like Goodwill and get a tax deduction.
I'm a big fan of consignment shops. I took a bunch of these items in to my favorite local store today to see what they would take. They took several things, but they left me with quite a few, too. I'm going to try selling these on craigslist, or I may even do a sale here on the blog. I'll keep you posted on the details!

I think I'm going to continue this one-room-a-week cleanout until I've covered the whole condo. I'm hoping we'll continue to find more things to sell, donate, and throw out as we try to simplify!