Cayuga Birthday Party
Lynne Buckner’s umpty-eighth birthday began with breakfast at her place (“Eggs Frenedict”) followed by a somewhat panicky attempt to
a) leave on time to welcome guests to her party
b) ready a borrowed bike for fiddler Sarah Wilson
c) prep a bit of food
Naturally these were mutually exclusive, and as dad used to say, “it’s all fun and games until someone loses an eye”.
The Alice B. Corollary is: “it’s all fun and games until you blacken your white cashmere coat with the chainring grease.”
I’d taken the coat off to pump the tires up: any idiot knows that you need to have a lab coat to pump up tires (greasy pump shaft gets your clothes every time!)
But the borrowed bike’s tires had presta valves, and Lynne’s floor pump had a Schraeder head. Nice…then even a borrowed Schraeder head pump from Jim-up-the-street wouldn’t behave for me. Over the phone, Jim reassured Lynne that “Jacquie will know how to work it”.
Right. Is there a trick to those reversible pump heads on portable pumps? No on has taught it to me.
Result: A brief spell of self-loathing–” bicycle expert!”. And a reality check with Sarah.
Sarah takes the bus.
Lynne & I bustle the “two miles” to the park (remember Lynne uses ‘crow fly miles’, where I use “wombat waddles” miles. They are like shraeder and presta, you must have an adaptor.) It takes at least twenty minutes, riding at a clip.
It’s worth it. Cayuga’s a magic park I’d never seen, best-kept secret in S.F. A pocket of beauty, peace and very lively folk art, all created by one person, a former Golden Gate gardener.
The guests arrived, one and two at a time.
Pat (“Sweeney”) came from the cancer unit Lynne works on at St. Luke’s. The rest were contra dancin’, old time playin’ colleagues like Mark Kartmann, Jim Franecevich and Amy Hofer. Sara finally makes it, and regales me with the story of her brother Rich Wilson being the first American to finish the VonDay Glub something or other…a sailboat race.
Food art, Trader Joe’s trusty edibles, and hot chai that Lynne made kept us gabbing in the foggy chill for the couple hours. Now and then BART trains screeched overhead, a surreal contrast to our cozy picnic. Like peregrines nesting in downtown SF–it’s what we have to live with. Ten people (and a few dogs) gathered and scattered on May 31st, the longest and most fun day of the month.
I realized that with my Breezer Villager, it would take an hour just to reach the bridge, and another three to get home…so Mark Kartmann offered me a partway lift. So: stuff the very heavily laden (beautiful sweaters from free boxes, a copy of SCAM punk magazine, several good books incl. all the Claudines by Colette, and even an uprooted plant or two jammed in) bike in his truck, should be a cinch.
After five minutes wrestling with a recalcitrant bike and its super wide handlebars–we decided that unpacking everything loaded on the bike would help. oh yes, and opening the back of the van….his van is so stuffed with electrician’s goodies that really there is only room for a horizontally pushed in bike.
I look down at my coat as I hop into the passenger seat.
Damn “bike mascara”.
My upstairs hard drive allows one or two brilliant ‘avoid problem’ moves, then I’ve used up my fucking Common Sense battery.
Wait. It’s OK to be featherbrained, I tell myself. Besides, how many people get to look this good on a bike?
As I labor home, twin ribbons of sweat zigzag down my ribcage. I’ve still got on a wool sweater, cotton vest, and tee shirt.
Ideal gear for S.F. summers, but once you cross the Golden Gate bridge summer hits you like a blast furnace, usually after breezy Sausalito. I opt to ride it out since there is no place to pile the clothing.
I couldn’t resist peering into dumpsters normally out of my home range–and scoring big. Organic fruit and vegetables, and a bonus: pussy willow bundles!…Which means sketchier steering, but neat shadows.
Weaving and lurching along in the lowest gear, I had the “homeless look” perfected by the time I reached Dogbark Lane.