A Record Yard Sale Acquisition

The yard sale signs are ubiquitous all over Olde North, and will be as long as the weather is pleasant enough for people to sit outside and wait for customers.  In this neighborhood, yard sales and the Clintonville Farmers’ Market are Saturday traditions, as much as football will be in the fall.  This past Saturday, I woke up around 10:45 and headed outside on the trike.

The logistics of the beginning and end of a trike ride are a bit frustrating.  Since the theft of the red Meridian, I have kept the new one in my dining room, so getting it outside means rolling it through the living room, out the front door, and down the porch steps.  Nuisance, yes.  But much less of a pain than shelling out another $300 to replace a stolen bike.

(As of this moment, I will be writing against a deadline.  After typing the above paragraph, I took a melatonin tablet and washed it down with a cup of Sierra Mist.  In about a half hour, I will definitely begin winding down.  A friend suggested it as a way to combat my insomnia, so when I went to Kroger last night to plunk down another $.88 for a jug of distilled water, I bought a bottle.  And now back to our story.)

I pedaled to a yard sale in a half double on Olentangy St.  All of the wares were inside, except for some unwieldy things (such as a stationary bike and a rowing machine), and they were bringing out more and more stuff all the time.  Apparently, the occupant on the other side of the half double had died, and the owner wanted to sell the contents of both halves, and then sell the property.

At first I thought I was going to come away empty-handed.  There were plenty of tools, and a tall stack of hymnals and Bibles.  I was briefly tempted by a Burroughs Portable adding machine, one of the old mechanical desktops with 72 keys and a crank.  If it had been a typewriter, I would have bought it right away, but I am not proficient with numbers at all (I use the calculator on my cell phone to figure tips!), so I would have been spending $10 for a doorstop.  Even if I knew it worked, I was not sure where to find ribbons for it.  (I have an Internet source for typewriter ribbons; I have never needed to ask him whether he stocks adding machine ribbons.)

I bought two breast-pocket notebooks for $.50.  I can never have enough notebooks, but they were pretty nondescript, and nothing I would boast about on Notebook Stories.  They were wrapped together with rubber bands along with two or three scratch pads from Whetstone Gardens and Care Center, and with a paperback anthology of poetry called Poems to Cherish.

A woman in her late 60s was sitting inside, and she pointed out a box of dishes on sale for $2.  Susie and I have yet to host a big dinner party, but be that as it may, having extra dishes in the cupboard is probably a good idea.  As the woman was meticulously wrapping each piece in newspaper, I asked if there were any records for sale.

She gave me this Well, why didn’t you say so? look, and asked one of the men running the yard sale to take me down to the basement.  We went through the kitchen and passed the dining room, which I guess they were using as a staging and sorting area.  He pointed underneath a shelf of paint cans to a box that looked like it was starting to ripple from moisture and age, almost like he was going to levitate it.

I glanced inside and saw the box was full of 78 RPM records, the ones made of shellac and Bakelite.  “Two bucks, and they’re yours,” he said.  I said yes immediately, although I wasn’t sure if I had a 78 speed on my Crosley phonograph.  (The orange and white monaural phonograph I had as an elementary school kid featured 16 RPM as a speed.  As far as I know, only talking books for the blind were recorded that slowly.)

The woman called downstairs and said, “Your dishes are ready!”  The man who showed me the records brightened up, and pointed to another box.  “Ten dollars, and it’s all yours–the dishes, the records, and another box of dishes.”

I told them I would have to come back.  I had bought breakfast earlier that day, but I had used my debit card, so I had no cash on me.  I asked them to hold all this, I would go to an ATM and get some money, and then buy it.  I did this, and, however awkwardly, we loaded these three boxes into the basket of my trike.

I barely had the trike above walking speed the whole way home.  I had to use a little more energy to pedal, with such a heavy and unwieldy load in the back.  Each crack in the sidewalk, or bump, or heavy landing from a curb, made me shudder and wait for the sound of something shattering.  (This was similar to my return journey from San Francisco by Greyhound in 1987.  In Ciudad Juarez, I bought a fifth of Dos Gusanos tequila for about $.85.  Once back on the bus, I wrapped it in two or three shirts in my backpack, and then sweat blood each time the bus hit a bump.)

Once home, I checked to make sure nothing was damaged.  Dishes and records were, unlike my nerves, all intact.  It was then I noticed that the dishes from the basement were wrapped in newspapers from about 1947.  (The Columbus Dispatch looked Linotyped until the early 1990s, but the papers were so yellow and brittle, I knew these were nothing recent.)  I still haven’t removed them from the box, because my focus has been on the records.

I am still in the process of sorting them out and researching them.  It’s a mixed batch of popular music (of the 1920s and 1930s), country music (which was then called “hillbilly” music), hymns, Christmas music, and music combined with spoken word comedy.  There are titles such as “Cottonwood Reel,” “The Engineer’s Hand Was on the Throttle,” and “I Get the Blues When It Rains.”  I have found one with the title “A Rovin’ Little Darkey”, backed with “The Year of Jubilo.”  I haven’t thoroughly looked over every title.  I began entering them onto my Library DB database, but the project is not finished yet.  I am even considering trying to keep the records in the right sleeves.  Put Conqueror records in Conqueror sleeves, Vocalion in Vocalion, etc.  I am doing this with an eye for eBay, and I’ve know I either have some diamonds in the rough, or I spent $2 on a box of skeet-shooting targets.

Almost as soon as I was back from the yard sale, I took this picture so I could boast of my wares on Facebook.

I think I am going to concede victory to the melatonin.  It is close to midnight.  My insomnia was so bad Monday night that I was unable to go into work Tuesday morning, but after I hung up from calling my supervisor, I could not get back to sleep.  And yesterday, I made it in to work, but my head throbbed, I felt like I was detached from my body and everything around me, and there seemed to be a seven-second delay between my brain and limbs.  (I did not feel like I had left my body and was drifting above everything–a friend of mine said he experienced this when he was having heart surgery, actually looking down at his own operation–but I did not feel “real”.)

This Saturday, I am going to continue this trend by buying more new “old” stuff at PulpFest.
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Double Feature Friday: INSOMNIA and THE BICYCLE THIEF

As of Monday, Susie will have been gone to Florida for two weeks.  I am already eagerly anticipating her return to Columbus in August, especially since it’ll mean my first trip to Florida, when I go down to bring her back.

The rest of my “bachelor summer” just has to be better than my Thursday night-Friday morning has been.  On Thursday, I spent the night at Central Ohio Sleep Medicine.  My psychiatrist is also a sleep specialist, and at my last appointment, he and I decided it was best if we re-evaluated my sleep situation from the ground up.  (He is a nationally recognized expert on sleep, and here is his Website.)

The sleep technician woke me up at 6 a.m. yesterday with the news that my sleep apnea is quite severe.  It is so bad that I stopped breathing completely at least 50 times during the night.  She gave me a C-PAP, nose pillows, and a ton of documentation about how to operate it.  (The model is quite compact.  Were it not for the hose, you would think it was a clock radio.)

I am not wild about the prospect of sleeping while hooked up to a machine every night, including having to wear a chin strap so my jaw stays closed.  I anticipate a nightly bedtime procedure cum ritual that resembles a pilot’s pre-flight checklist.  Not a good thing, since I tend to stay up until I’m about ready to drop over from exhaustion.

I haven’t slept a full night with the machine yet.  I left a call on the medical equipment provider’s voice mail because I had some issues with the machine last night, which meant I finally went to sleep around dawn sans the machine.  (Much as I hated to do it, I called the bookstore and told them I’d be unable to come in.  That’s about $64 in pay to which I bade farewell.)

But enough about my sleep, and the night at the clinic in Gehenna Gahanna.  (I love telling people the sleep clinic is in the Valley of Hinnom.)  The worst was yet to come.

I arrived back home around 9:30.  The first thing I saw was that my trike was gone.  I went around to the side of the house, and sure enough, my cable lock was still there, but someone had snipped it evenly in half.  The ends were not frayed.  I don’t know what the thief used, but it cut through a Master cable lock as easily as if it was Kleenex.

I took Susie to see this at Studio 35 about a year and a half ago.  Oh, the irony!

I logged a police report online, because using the Columbus Police Department’s Website would take less time and be less frustrating than wading through the voice mail hell you experience when you dial (614) 645-4545.  I then went to several places in the neighborhood that sell used bikes, described the bike, and asked them to be on the lookout.  I did the same thing online to the Third-Hand Bicycle Co-Op and the Facebook page for the World Naked Bike Ride.

I am guardedly optimistic I will see the bike again.  Several people pointed out to me that an adult tricycle would be very conspicuous in Columbus, so now I have many pairs of eyes looking out for it.  If anyone tries to sell it, bike stores will notify the police.  This was Pride Weekend, and although I missed the Pride Parade downtown, I went to the post-parade festivities in Goodale Park and scrutinized every bike in the bike corral.  I came up with a goose egg.

I have not always been in the position of being able to do this, but later on Friday afternoon, I went to Walmart’s Website and ordered a new trike.  Like the cherry red one, it’s a 26″ Schwinn Meridian.  The only difference (that I could tell from the Website) is that it is blue, rather than red.  I may be overreacting, and succumbing a little to paranoia, but I asked Walmart to ship the bike to me care of a friend, so, if the thief decides to pay a return visit, he/she won’t be tempted by the box on my porch when FedEx Ground delivers.

So, another session of Build-a-Bike looms in the near future.  It may have been rash to immediately whip out the debit card and order a new trike, but riding it has been therapeutic for me, and it improves my mood better than the 900 mg of lithium I take every day.  Even when I go out to run a simple errand, I take the long way around and try to explore unfamiliar streets.  (As a gesture of faith, I am using the present tense.  I hope to be on three wheels again by this weekend.  I want to take my new trike to Comfest.)

This time around, the trike will remain in my dining room when I have it at home.  I will also buy a thick U-lock for it, a lock that a thief will really have to work at to break.

And I hope to have more thoughts and accounts borne out of the rides I make on the blue Meridian.  But first it has to arrive here in Columbus, and then be assembled.  I checked my bank account–the amount has been deducted from my balance, and now I await delivery.


Last Quiet Moments for Awhile

Today is May 31, the day I call the Diarists’ Holy Day of Obligation, but, May 31 or no, I am posting tonight because this is the last day of relative quiet and inactivity I will have for the next three or four days.

I will make the obligatory Samuel Pepys reference by showing a picture of the six manuscript volumes of his diary, now housed at Magdalene College:

With that out of the way, I will go on to explain why this weekend is going to be packed to the rim with activity and emotion.

Susie will be reading her Faith Statement at a potluck Saturday evening at church.  She has been on two weekend retreats, and met with her fellow Coming of Age students on Sunday mornings for much of the year.  Like the journalist she hopes to become, she was at the keyboard finishing up the statement as the hands of the clock grew later and later.  If that wasn’t enough, the world premiere of Steph’s play, TeenTalk.com debuted Tuesday night at The Graham School, and Susie was one of the actors.  (See below YouTube file for the finished product–complete with cameo appearances by the P.A. system.)

For Unitarian Universalist adolescents, Coming of Age is the equivalent of bat mitzvah or Confirmation.  In true UU fashion, logistics and scheduling went down almost to the wire, with a blizzard of emails going back and forth between mentors, ministers, kids, parents, etc.  On Sunday morning, Susie will be reading Oh, the Places You’ll Go! at the 10 a.m. service.

But there’s more.  Steph and her partner, Mike, are en route here by way of car and Amtrak from the Space Coast of Florida even as I speak type.  At the same time, Steph’s father, Ray, aged 84, is headed here from Milwaukee by Greyhound, and will be arriving about 8 a.m. tomorrow morning.  This will be the first time I have seen Ray in at least six years, and the first time I have seen Steph in over a year, and the first time I have met Mike.  Much has changed in all this time, and I think we’ll all be treading lightly until we finally feel comfortable.  (Steph and I talk almost daily by IM and email, and sometimes by phone, and are more of a united front as parents than we were when we lived together.)

The first rainfall in over a week is going on right now.  Before I started typing, I ran outside (when it was still sprinkling, and not raining hard, as it is now) and put a blue 12′ × 12′ plastic pool cover over the trike.  I doubt one good rain will ruin the trike, but nonetheless I hurried out there to cover it.  I must be like the owner of a new car, who dies a million deaths the first time he sees a scratch, no matter how microscopic, on his beloved vehicle.

At the same time, I know I should not be complaining about how hectic this weekend will be.  Susie will be going to Florida with Steph for the summer, and I probably will not see her until mid-August.  This means I’ll have about 10-12 weeks of quiet and time to myself.  Time will tell if that translates into a renewal of my long-moribund mental energy to write–poetry, blogs, diaries, or anything else.  I will be back at the bookstore Monday night, for at least the coming week, as summer quarter is just around the corner at Columbus State Community College.

Susie went on Graham’s class trip to Cedar Point today.  She had to be at school an hour earlier than normal.  I was still getting dressed when I heard her shutting the front door and sprinting toward the bus stop.  Yesterday was the last day of school, and Susie greeted me with the news that she is now a sophomore… not that there was any doubt in my mind.

Another semi-noteworthy event I’ll share.  I received a package yesterday containing the Sears Silvertone AM radio I bought on eBay.  It’s currently sitting on my night table, which is too cluttered right now to be photo-worthy.  I combed the Internet for months for the same model I remember seeing in our house when I was a kid.  Dad bought it when he was a student at the Catholic University of America in the late 1940s, and I used it on and off for much of my life.

As prone to coincidence as I am, the first thing I did when I took the radio out of the box was check the underside.  I last saw Dad’s radio on my desk when I left home in 1982, and it was nowhere to be found when he died in 2000.  When I was a child, I scribbled on the underside of the radio with a crayon, and apparently it was indelible.  My first thought was that I had ended up with his radio again.  This was not the case this time.

When I was younger, the clock lit up in an eerie orange, and the words MAGIC GLOW rimmed the lower part of the dial.  By the time I left home, the clock no longer glowed.  This is true with the model that arrived yesterday, but the clock still keeps time.  I moved the AM dial around from low to the high end, and could barely pick up 610 WTVN, and only then with plenty of static.  I’m sure the radio has seen better days, and I am not going to expend any mental energy constructing an antenna.  I’m just glad to have this radio and this model by the bed.

Tach It Up, Tach It Up, Buddy Gonna Shut You Down

I realized that since posting about my birthday gift to myself–my 26″ Schwinn Meridian adult tricycle–I have not posted in this blog about it (or anything else!).  I vowed to wait until I had racked up some miles, and then report to those readers who have been waiting impatiently for news about my new vehicle.

The trike, sitting in my living room, before adding the front fender.

When last you tuned in, my neighbors D’Lyn and Luca had assembled the trike on my front porch, which was when we discovered it was minus the large bolt and washers necessary for holding on the front fender.  I sent an email to the bike company that night, and by the end of the week, there was a small padded envelope in my mailbox containing the missing hardware.

On the Saturday after my birthday, Susie was in Akron at a Unitarian Universalist youth conference, and I took advantage of the empty house for a day trip to Athens on GoBus, $21 round trip.  So, until the fender was on the front of the trike, I knew it would’t get any mileage.

Sunday morning, my co-worker Jeff came in from Reynoldsburg with an impressive tool kit, and he was at work on the fender as Susie’s ride dropped her off after returning from Akron.  (I knew my bike was in skilled hands.  Jeff’s late father owned a hardware store, and Jeff earned his allowance as a kid and teenager by assembling bikes.)

Once the fender was on, I took the trike for its maiden voyage.  I think the Wright Brothers stayed in motion longer than I did.  They managed a 12-second, 120-foot flight at Kitty Hawk in 1903, and I think my first trip on the trike was less than that.  I got on, wobbled a little bit, and almost capsized it because of my old habits from my limited bike-riding experience.  As I got to the end of the block, I tried to lean into a turn.  I haven’t been on a bicycle since high school, but I haven’t been on a tricycle for over 45 years, so I had forgotten all I had to do was turn the wheel.

I was still a little wobbly on my first ride.  In Two Years Before the Mast, Moby-Dick, and the Horatio Hornblower novels, they always talk about getting your sea legs, and Mr. Scott on Star Trek has mentioned getting your space legs.  I had yet to get my trike legs, because on my first trip back, I very narrowly missed hitting a tree.  I was only going a few miles an hour, so I would not have been injured if I had hit the tree, but it was very close.  As Dan Rather would have said, “Look at that!  Can’t get a cigarette paper between ’em!”

A day or two later, after work, I went down to the Olentangy Trail and embarked on several trips back and forth.  I am still not ready for riding alongside heavy traffic, so my on-street riding has been mostly on the narrow one-way east-west streets in Olde North.  The trail is asphalt, with several turns and small rises.  I rode back and forth from Dodridge to Lane Ave. four or five times, turning around when I could see the curved roof of St. John Arena.  I would have gone further north than Dodridge, but the bridge over the Olentangy River is out, and my trike is too wide to get around all the sawhorses, barriers, and fences the City has erected to block the path at that point.

Until yesterday, I had to restrict myself to daytime riding.  Last night, my friend Scott called and told me he was buying me a set of lights for the trike, and giving me a helmet.  I had been riding minus a helmet, although I knew on some level that a bicycle enthusiast I knew in Marietta was right when he said he always wore a helmet “whether I’m going around the block or around the world.”  Commander William Riker said that Fate protects fools, little children, and ships named Enterprise.  I must fall in the first category.  Scott and I went to Target last night and he bought me the lights (I paid for the batteries, a 12-pack of AAAs).

Tonight I did not hit the Olentangy Trail, but went biking on the sidewalks in Olde North.  I did get some stares, but the trike handled well, and I got my second wind pretty quickly.  As a proud pedestrian, I had mounted my cyber soapbox in the past about bicyclists using the sidewalk.  I had even ended a post on Columbus Underground with “Ride your bikes in the street, assclowns!”  On paper at least, riding bicycles on the sidewalks is forbidden, but no one in the city (including bicycle cops) obeys that rule.  I would be petrified riding in traffic, so I have elected to ride on the sidewalks, at least for the foreseeable future.

Not that the sidewalks are 100% safe.  I have not had any run-ins (literally or otherwise) with pedestrians or parked cars, but the sidewalks in Olde North are often jagged, uneven, and cracked in many places, so I’ve taken some pretty hard bounces.  It is only after tonight’s ride that I’ve stopped sweating blood about whether I blew a tire.  (I had considered practicing in the alleys, but cars usually roar through those at high speeds, and they are strewn with gravel, broken glass, nails, and other hazards.)

Pedestrians have been courteous to me, and have stepped aside without any complaint, and I’ve resolved to be more respectful about riding on the sidewalks than many of the bicyclists I’ve encountered.  I think that an adult tricycle is such an anomaly that many people give me a wide berth just so they can get a better look at it.  (“Cargo bike” and “freight bike” are the other conventional phrases to describe my vehicle, although I overheard a kid on the Olentangy Trail call it a “geezer bike.”)

The accessory that I have yet to purchase is some kind of signalling device.  I have heard a lot on the merits of a bell versus a horn.  I thought about buying a standard ooga horn, although another person suggested I get a bell (for “thank you” and for greeting people) and a marine air horn, the type of signalling device that boats carry as distress signals.  (Anyone who has been to a professional hockey game has heard them.)  The air horn is very high on the decibel scale, but I am not sure that any pedestrian, with earbuds in and volume cranked, would hear anything less.

Hopefully, the sarcasm shines through in the title of this blog post.  I am hardly Marlon Brando when I am riding this trike.  (I definitely don’t look like any of the bikers in Scorpio Rising.)  It’s a single speed, which means I have to get out and push for a lot of inclines, although with time and experience, I’ll build up more strength in my legs.  When I was shopping online for a trike, I flirted with the idea of getting a trike with a magnesium frame (much lighter), but the cost was prohibitive, and I am well aware that the more aerobic the bike ride, the more it will benefit me in the long run.

More progress reports to come.  The trike is enough of a novelty that my landlord and my next-door neighbor both wanted to ride it up and down the block last Saturday when they saw me arrive on it.  Maybe I should charge for that.

Birthday Milestone: I Bought Beer for the First Time in at Least 12 Years

I turned 49 last Sunday.  Next year, I will be eligible to join AARP (although retirement will, it seems, be about 22 years in my future), when I hit the big five-oh.  It was a good celebration, and the high point of it was the 21st-century equivalent of a barn-raising.

I had a bike-raising.  Or, to be more precise, a trike-raising.

During the winter, I decided that maybe I should supplement walking with another form of aerobic exercise.  Several people had suggested I take up bike-riding, but I was reluctant to do this.  I had many ear infections as a child (they lessened in frequency after my tonsillectomy in kindergarten), and a lasting effect is that my balance is not perfect.  I have always been rather wobbly when riding a two-wheeler, so I have not owned or ridden a bike since high school.

While doing some reading and Web-surfing this winter, I saw articles and pictures about cargo bikes (in some areas, people call them freight bikes).  This is an adult tricycle.  When the weather started getting warmer, I started looking online for an adult tricycle, talked to many people (online and in person) who were in the know about bicycling, and about two weeks ago, I went to Wal-Mart’s Website and bought a cherry-colored 26″ Schwinn Meridian adult tricycle.

About a week after I received their email confirming the purchase, I came home from work and saw the huge cardboard Schwinn box sitting on my front porch.  There was a stick-em on it from FedEx that said We delivered your package.  Thanks, guys.  So the trike had arrived, but, as I knew, it was not pre-assembled.

I had that covered even before I ordered it.  On Easter Sunday, a couple on my block invited me to a potluck. I went, and described the trike that I was ordering.  The couple who live diagonally across Maynard from me told me to let them know when the trike arrived, and they would help me put it together.

This was indeed good news.  I would not want to ride anything that I had assembled myself.  Probably the most hellish Christmas Eve I ever experienced involved putting together the Radio Flyer wagon that was one of Susie’s gifts that year.  I offered to return the favor by speaking up for some beer for the two of them.

That’s the allusion in my title.  On my birthday, Susie and I both slept a little later than usual, had brunch at the Blue Danube (a first for both of us), and while she was online with her friend in Medina (they’re writing a book together), I walked to Giant Eagle and picked up a six-pack of Burning River Pale Ale, a product of the Great Lakes Brewing Company.  (Something funny: I typed Burning River into Wikipedia’s search engine, and it redirected to Cuyahoga River.)

Luca and D’Lyn came over in mid-afternoon, bearing plenty of tools.  They did a very good job, and I reminded them that, should they have children, they will spend many a Christmas Eve doing this very thing.  Luca was prepared for any eventuality.  When I presented them with the beer, I was surprised (and a little embarrassed) to see I had no bottle opener.  (I had taken it to work for a potluck, since someone was bringing in Hawaiian Punch or Hi-C, which required a church key to open.  The bottle opener was–and still is–in my desk at work.)  I knew a kid in high school who prided himself on being able to open bottles with his front teeth, but Luca used one of his tools to do the job.

I was hoping to wind this entry up with dazzling prose describing my maiden voyage on this trike, but that is an entry for another day.  As the project neared completion, Luca and D’Lyn discovered that several screws and washers meant to hold on the front fender were missing.  My initial thought was that a front fender is not essential to riding the bike, but it seems that they may have packed the wrong rear fenders.  When the rear wheels turn, they rub against the fenders, which will eventually ruin the tires.  So, I’ve had several emails back and forth with the company, and the small parts, and two rear fenders, should be in my hands in seven to 10 business days.

Luca and D’Lyn putting together the rear of the tricycle.

Susie and I went to Lowe’s later in the afternoon and bought a bike chain and lock, and both of us wanted to be in and out of Lowe’s as quickly as we could.  I got the chain, paid for it, and we made a beeline to the front door.  (I know there are people who can spend entire Saturday afternoons in Lowe’s or Home Quarters, but their reasons baffle me.  However, I understand there are people who cannot understand how I can be entranced by a visit to OfficeMax or Staples, even when I’m only there to buy a notebook or a ream of paper.)