Friday, September 05, 2008


There’s nothing good about it, but it is getting to be a fact around here. I’m a bachelor. In fact, since I’ll be forty years old in March, I am in serious statistical danger of being a lifelong bachelor. You can tell that I am a bachelor by this picture of my kitchen counter:

The only food thing in sight is my coffee cup, though I had my usual oatmeal with peanut butter and soy milch that morning. (Yum!) I spent the whole day working on physical tasks. One was to dismount and dismantle my clip/platform pedals in order to loosen the spindles a little bit—they are notchy. Another was to invent a band for my watch because while the old TAG Heuer, which I found lying on the ground in a pile of broken glass next to my boot in the Sepulveda/Wilshire intersection when I was a motorcycle courier in Los Angeles ten plus years ago, is still going strong, it’s band is problematic and costs $250 to replace! While swimming in a lake in PA this summer on the bike trip, I got out to put the watch in my saddlebag, realizing that if the band broke, the watch, which is stainless steel and not light, would sink to the murky bottom in seconds, never to be seen again. Sure enough, the next day the band broke. It’s just ridiculous that science says that clairvoyance is unscientific. I think that denying the existence of something that happens ALL THE TIME just because you can’t explain HOW it happens is unscientific and weanie-brained. So there!

I like the watch band because, as you can see from this picture of the back, I can have one half of the leather strap fail AND/or have one of the springbars that hold the strap to the watch fail, and not lose the watch entirely. I love redundant fail safes. Why? Because Murphy was an OPTIMIST. Murphy’s Law says, “Anything that can go wrong will.” However, in my experience, even things that CAN’T go wrong will. If McCain gets elected, you’ll see what I’m talking about. After all, in what reality could a majority of Americans be that dumb (AGAIN)? Or, in what reality could an election in the U.S.A. be hijacked by hanging chads and Diebold machines!?! Things that can’t go wrong, but have….
Another bachelor project was a bit more domestic. My stainless steel teapot, which I bought years ago at a thrift store, but which is definitely IKEA brand, did not survive being shipped to D.C. The plastic handle broke. So, I removed it, and made this handle out of a wire coat hanger.
The coat hanger handle is actually superior to the original in the following way: While the plastic handle got so hot that the teakettle had to be handled with a pot holder once it had whistled, the wire handle does not conduct as much heat, or radiates it better, and can be picked up with a bare hand. Very convenient when one is in a pre-caffienated state of mind! Also, the coat hanger was just hanging around, and a new stainless steel teakettle at my rip-off local hardware store was $47! As IF!

So, what about bachelorhood? I don’t think that it is the end of the world. I will need to incorporate it into my middle aged plan, is all. I have hithertofore always assumed that the woman who could be amused by finding the kitchen counter in the condition depicted above on a Saturday morning was going to pull up in front of me one of these days on her vintage Norton Manx motorcycle, take off her helmet, shake her hair down to her leather clad waist, and ask me if I needed a ride to the composting workshop. At this point, I haven’t even seen a Norton Manx on the road in several years, though I have been blessed in my life with the friendship, love, regard, companionship, collaboration, and partnership of some remarkable, beautiful, smart, compassionate, capable, ethical, magical women. Most of them are composters.

Project in the making: I started a worm bin without any worms. If you have a pound or two of Red Wrigglers (compost-specific worms—Don’t be sending me nightcrawlers now), put them in a sawdust pack in a cardboard box with holes punched in the sides all over with a hypodermic needle or nail or something, and send them to the National Council of Churches, Attn. Carl Magruder, 110 Maryland Ave. NE Ste. 108, Washington, D.C. 20003. Don’t put them in plastic. They need to breathe, and I need the worms! I’ve got several coffee cones and apple cores digesting in a bunch of shredded paper and some dirt from the yard. The Taj Mahal of Wormland is ready, and it just need tenants.

Other projects? New bungee for my Peugeot PX-50. You know how on Wallace and Gromit, Wallace may say, “It seems the bounce has gone from his bungee” to describe someone who is down in the dumps? Well, my old PX really had lost the bounce from its bungee:

I carefully uncrimped the ends that held the elastic and got a near-enough match from Frager’s Hardware. The roll of bungee material has sat on a shelf six inches off the floor for years, so all the outer layers were quite clogged with yuck. I carefully unwound about thirty feet of the stuff until I found the gleaming white stuff underneath. I then cut 24” right out of the middle of the roll, and rolled up the tailing thirty feet just as though I had not just done such an utterly despicable thing. I paid forty-nine cents a foot for my two feet and wandered home. I haven’t lost any sleep over it yet, either. Partly because my bike’s bungee has recovered it’s bounce:
The PX-50 is probably a ’69-‘74, based on my inexpert knowledge and research. Before ‘69 they had rounded, beautiful lugs, instead of the Aztec design my bike carries, and after ’74, they had Mafac center pull brakes, instead of the Mafac cantilevers mine sports. It is fun to think that my bicycle may be as old as I am. Real 650B wheels stock, all steel, generator lights work and everything. She’s got to weigh nearly 40 lbs. It’s a working man’s Singer or Herse, the old constructeur randoneuring bikes. The pomegranite orange is a head turner, and I enjoy passing folks on carbon fibre wonder bikes with their clipless pedals and aerodynamic helmets as I pedal along in my wingtips, broadfalls, suspenders, and goofy Bell Metro helmet. I hope I outgrow that!

I know that I am supposed to be dealing with some spiritual issue or earth ethics dilemma here, but I’m not. I’m just grappling with solitude. Mostly, I like it fine. On the other hand, I have lived in community for the last five years, and lived with my girlfriend the year before that. Living alone is—foreign.
So… Future Blog Teasers:

The D.C. Ecovilla.
My Work in D.C.—Big plans for Obama.
Does being ‘well-wheeled’ make you a second class citizen?
Plain and Simple.

O.K. That’s it for now. It will take me longer to post this with the pictures than it took me to write it. Luddites of the world Unite! Turn the crank! Pedal the Bike! Grow the Food! Rock the Cradle! Row the Boat! Kiss the Lips!