What a roller coaster of a week it’s been. I did not adjust well to the time change. My eyes flew open at what is now 4 a.m. almost every day, thinking it was 5 a.m. and time to get up. And then I was falling asleep before 8:30. I’m still not quite sure I’ve adjusted.

Monday I discovered the rear tire on my Brompton, Origami, had a slow leak. I made it home from work, and set about fixing it. I’m a competent flat fixer, not the fastest, it usually takes me about 10 minutes or so, but I’ve done it enough times that I don’t even have to think about it. But Bromptons aren’t road bikes. The wheels are bolted on, no easy quick release levers. I have the wrench I need to get the wheels off and I thought that would be the only difference. Wrong!

I had to find a how-to video and watch it over and over again. Before I could even get the wheel off to fix the flat, I had to disconnect the rear shifter cable, remove the derailleur, remove the wheel axle bolts, then remove some clips, then I could get the wheel off. I put a new tube in the tire and then had to watch the video over and over again to make sure I put everything back together correctly.

I was already discombobulated from the time change, and tired from working all day, and then tired from this not being a quick and easy fix, that what got me most frustrated was getting the chain thread correctly through the derailleur. On other bikes, this is not something you have to do when you change a tire, the derailleur and chain stay fixed in place on the bike. My brain just could translate what I was seeing in the video to what I was looking at on my bike. I was so frustrated, I was near to tears.

James is not a mechanical sort of guy, but he had a calm, unfrustrated head and was able to help me figure it out. At the end of the video it said, you may have to adjust your hub gears. Since it had just taken me a little over an hour to fix a flat tire, I was in no shape to even think about this; the pedals turned and the shifters worked, that was good enough.

Tuesday morning on the bike and heading to work and I found out that yeah, the gears need to be adjusted. I had what amounted to two usable gears unless I was planning on cycling up a mountain or spinning furiously at 100+ rpms. But it was enough to get me to work.

At some point during the day I was able to find a video and discover just how easy it is to adjust the gears. It took me about a minute to do it in my office. And when I got on my bike to go home at the end of the day, I had all six gears back.

Then Thursday came. James called me at work early to let me know that our water heater in the basement was leaking. We have a service thingy we pay each month on our gas bill that covers our water heater and furnace repairs. Someone was on the way to take a look. James called me a little while later to let me know the 20-year-old water heater was dead.

The guy that had come out said they could have a new one installed Friday. Well, no, you see James was scheduled for hernia surgery on Friday and no one was going to be home between the hours of 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. waiting for the water heater malarky. So James began calling around. After a giant failure with a company we had used for some plumbing things before, he managed to make a deal with Home Depot, and the new water heater was installed not long before I got home from work that day.

Friday we were up a little before 5 a.m. and soon after out the door to bike to the hospital where James was having his surgery. James biked on the big cargo bike and I rode my Brompton. The hospital staff were super impressed. We got him checked in and waited hardly any time at all before they took him back to start getting him prepped. I loaded the Brompton onto the cargo bike and biked home.

And when I got home I discovered the rear tire on the Brompton had gone flat! WTF? Clearly there was something embedded in the tire that I had missed when I was checking it on Monday. After breakfast and a shower I set to work.

It was much easier this time to get the wheel off, I only had to look at the video once. I patched the tube I had taken out of the tire on Monday. The hole in it was a pinprick and so hard to find. And then I began slowly and carefully running my fingers over the inside of the tire in the general area of where the puncture was. I found a tiny bump that was kind of sharp but not really. It must have slowly rubbed a tiny hole into the tube. I got some tweezers and a bright light because even though I could feel it, it was nearly invisible. I pulled out a tiny sliver of metal smaller than an eyelash.

I put everything back together without having to watch the video, and when I tried to adjust the gears the shifter didn’t work. Breathe. I tried everything I could think of and nothing worked. By this point it was time to go pick up the HourCar, because James was not in any shape to bike home or be carried home on the back of a bike.

Once again, I had only two gears, but it was enough. I got James home, got the car returned, and finally, today decided I needed to figure out the shifting problem. I took it all apart and put it all back together in case something hadn’t been fitted correctly. It still didn’t work. I wanted to scream. After much frustration and checking of cable and connectors and other bits and bobs, it turned out I had the cable tension too tight. Once it was loosened, voilà! I could shift gears. Next time I get a flat, I’m going to be so pro at fixing it.

James’s hernia surgery went well. He’s tired and sore, and it will take 6 weeks or so for everything to heal. But he is looking forward to the pain from the hernia being gone. Apparently they took photos of the surgery and asked him afterwards if he would like to have them. He did not want photos of his insides and told them to shred them. I was a bit disappointed he didn’t want the photos. I would have 100% said yes please, I’ll take them!

I still have my wisdom teeth from when I had them removed when I was 16. They asked me if I wanted them and I said, most definitely! My mom was rather surprised when they gave them to her in a little box that says “My lucky tooth” on the lid. They had to give them to her for safekeeping because I was so high after the surgery from the anesthetic that I was talking to chairs and plants and walls.

So I didn’t get to see pictures of James’s hernia. That they even took pictures strikes me as hilarious, and James thinks I might be a little weird. We have never done those photo holiday card things, but this year could have been a fantastic time to start. Here’s Stef on her bike, here are the chickens, here is the garden, and here is James’s hernia! Happy Holidays!

  • Book: Grandmothers of Light: A Medicine Woman’s Sourcebook by Paula Gunn Allen. This is a collection of goddess stories from a variety of indigenous American traditions. In these stories goddesses created the world and are the ones who continue to bring light and life.
  • Article: Microplastic-eating plankton may be worsening crisis in oceans, say scientists. The dream of plankton eating microplastics and saving the oceans, and us, since microplastics are at this moment in our blood and even in the clouds over Mt. Fuji, is dead. The plankton only make the microplastics even smaller, turning them into nanoplastics, which are even more dangerous. The only solution is to stop making plastics.
  • Article: UN Report Details Rampant US Human Rights Violations at Home and Abroad. In 1992 the US ratified the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, a UN treaty that enshrines important things like the right to vote, freedom or expression and assembly, prohibits torture, and prohibits discrimination of civil and political rights based on race, sex, color, language, religion, sexual orientation, and a bunch of other things. The UN Committee that monitors the implementation of ICCPR, found the US in major violation and determined that racial discrimination was involved in two-thirds of the documented violations.
  • Podcast: Team Human: Nora Bateson. Nora Bateson is the founder of the International Bateson Institute in Sweden, a filmmaker, educator, and author. She is the daughter of Gregory Bateson who worked in many fields and focused on systems-thinking. Gregory Bateson is the son of William Bateson, an English biologist, who was the first person to use the term “genetics” to describe the study of heredity. Nora Bateson discusses her new book Combining, which is very much about systems, interdependence, interconnectedness, storytelling, and ambiguity.
  • Podcast: Movement Memos: Practicing New Worlds in a Time of Collapse. Discussion with Andrea Ritchie, author of a new book, Practicing New Worlds: Abolition and Emergent Strategies, about the necessity of imagining and practicing the kind of world we want to see. A Really good conversation about how just coming up with ideas is not enough, we need to put them into practice to change the system. The systems that are so destructive are not going to change themselves from the top down. It is up to us to first make the changes we want to see within ourselves and then create those changes from the bottom up. There is also a good discussion about Palestine towards the end of the podcast. This ended up being an excellent match with the Bateson podcast above, because it turned some of what Bateson talks about into practice.

Nothing new this week


The choices we make daily make us who we are. As today opens in front of you, choose compassion.

Hersch Wilson, “Choosing Compassion
James’s Kitchen Wizardry

He was so focused on making sure we had some basic things cooked up for the day of his surgery and this weekend, there was no time for anything else.

Related Posts

10 thoughts on “Roller Coaster

  1. I would have lost my shit so hard, Stefanie. Good job prevailing. As for Christmas photos, if I were braver, I would convince Nick to do something like Julia Child and her husband did for their holiday cards (you can Google them).

    1. Heh Melanie, there were some tears and lots of swearing and I even lost a little blood when I scraped my knuckle. But I learned a lot, so that’s something!

      OMG I googled Julia Child, those cards–Valentine’s Day–are awesome! I you ever get that brave, please do send me a card!

  2. You’re going to be an expert in repairing any kind of problem with that bike in no time. Sending James best wishes for a quick and pain-free recovery. The two of you have definitely had your share of problems recently, you are overdue for a break now!

    I’m a strong believer in the often under-estimated power of grassroots organizing and action. I’ll be interested in listening to the podcast with Andrea Ritchie and the book by Paula Gunn Allen looks really interesting too. I think I have a couple of similar books on my TBR wishlist, but I don’t think this is one of them. Have to check that out.

    1. Bike repair is a great skill to have Julé! There is so much I still don’t know how to do, but every time something goes wrong I feel like I get to add a little bit to my knowledge, no matter how frustrating it is in the moment.

      Thank you! James is recovering really well.

      Hope you enjoy the podcast and possibly the Paula Gunn Allen book!

  3. Your persistence with the bike tire and gears is so great! Good job! I’m glad the surgery went well and I hope recovery goes smoothly. The time change stinks. I’m still adjusting, I think. It took a few days for Bruce to adjust too, ha ha.

    1. Thanks Laila! How many weeks has it been since the time change and I’m still waking up between 4 and 4:30 in the morning. Sigh. Heh, poor Bruce! The chickens got mad too because I let them out to run around when I get home from work, and now it’s dark when I get home so I am putting them to bed instead.

  4. Okay, I so want a hernia holiday card now. In fact, that might be the PERFECT analogy for Midwinter.

    Sorry about the bike vexation! I feel your pain on the time change, and… my furnace blower has gone moody… It’s been a cold weekend.

    1. LOL Elizabeth, that would be a good winter analogy. I wish James had kept the photos!

      As for the bike, it’s frustrating but also part of the learning curve. And it costs me only my time and less than $10 for a new tube, and less than $1 to patch the old one. Much better than having flat tire problems on a car!

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: