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Sunday, January 16, 2000

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Riding and Reading

I felt like some fantasy this morning. I remember the feeling of wonder that I had when I read the CS Lewis Narnia books when I was a child. There was this wonderful feeling of entering another world for a few hours. A world full of adventure and magic and children, just like me. Not knights in shining armor, but just kids.

I felt the same wonder when years later, in college, I read The Lord of the Rings by Tolkien. Again there was that wonder of a new world. A world in which the common folk, the little people, the hobbits, were the heroes. I read and reread those books so many times. I had two sets of them fall apart.

That wonder has popped up now and then but less frequently as the years go by. I decided to go to Bookmans and trade some books in and see if I could find a fantasy book that would give me a little wonder.

First I had to put the new tube on my bike. I decided to spring for a thorn resistant tire to see if maybe it would last a little longer. As usual, I had grease up to my elbows since it was a rear tire and I had to unhook and hook the chain. It was so easy before gears.

Bookmans was bustling. It is always busy, or at least when I've been there. I finally find three books that looked like they had potential. They weren't exactly what I was looking for but I'm a little burnt out on books that have the blurb "as good as The Lord of the Rings". Nothing is that good and most knockoffs suck.

It was such a nice day that I wandered east on Grant, thinking that it might be nice to go to Reid Park and check out the zoo. About the time I hit Alvernon I decided to stop at the Circle K for a cheese danish (one of the few places you can get one anymore) and milk and then ride up to the Rillito to see if they've done anything with all those bridges they've had sitting around on the river bank.

My jacket had been off for a long time and I was getting warm when I got to the end of Alvernon and rode the little dirt path to the river bank. They finally have the bridges up, on both sides of the wash. They don't have the ramps up to the bridge but at least there is progress. A guy who watched me take a picture said that they've been up a couple of weeks so maybe in a few more they will have the ramps up. So cool!

When I got to Prince I had to get off since the houses from there to the Racquet Club are on the very edge and, I understand, they don't want any stinking public persons going by their place. Of course, when they get flooded out they'll want tax money to help them out. At the Racquet Club I rode through the parking lot to where I could squeeze out to the river walk again. I noticed that there was a walk/bike bridge across the wash here. I assume that's so that us proletariat won't sully their view.

It's nice to see the bridges finally going up. Past Campbell it's always been a down in the wash and back up when a side wash comes in, and sometimes it's a pretty steep slope that's difficult on foot and impossible with a bike.

Back home I sat down to read one of the books. It was "The Jigsaw Woman" by Kim Antieau. I thought it would be interesting as it's about a woman who is put together from three women and how she found out who she was. It soon moved into the life is all rape and incest for woman, men suck, and life was better back in the good old days when women ran everything.

First of all, there is no evidence to support a time when women ran everything. Second, I really don't believe that it would be a time of love and peace if there had been such a time. I know that there are women who have lived through some horrific experiences with incest, rape and other brutalities, but I don't think that is the sum total of how the vast majority of men are. I also don't feel that the main theme of history is men's brutality of women.

I have a father, a son and four brothers and I cringe every time I read such an all encompassing condemnation of men as this book had. It was a powerful book but at the end I felt violated by the premise of the book, not by men.

After that I decided to get back to something lighter and finished reading "Philistines in the Hedgerow" by Steven Gaines. This was an interesting book on the Hamptons and the infighting and history of these very socially upscale towns. Gaines goes through not only the current and recent history of the rich and famous, everyone from Faye Dunaway to Martha Stewart to Jackson Pollock, but goes back to the 1500s when the Europeans first started settling the place.

Now it's populated mainly not by "old" families but by the new rich and is an interesting look at the very rich but I couldn't quite grasp the point of it all. Why would people pay millions of dollars for homes and then put up with the very restrictive codes that tells them what they can do with their property. I don't understand why people who could buy and sell everyone I know, get bent out of shape at having the wrong area code. I don't understand why having the right address matters so much.

Of course, I also have never grasped the importance of wearing designer clothes or being seen in the right places. Most of these people have their money because they are very competitive and very motivated people, and this does carry over into their leisure time, but to spend $500,000 dollars on a lawsuit just to make a point is not something I understand, especially when the point is about what your house can look like. Who cares.

The author does a good job of narrating the stories of some true eccentrics and some people who were downright crazy, as well as people who are addicted to having the perfect home in the perfect town at the perfect address. Granted, these are the people who keep a town looking good but I don't understand them. A nice house is nice but I guess don't have the keeping up with the Jones urge. At least not as it relates to real estate.

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Biked - 11 miles

(c) Rachel Aschmann 2000.
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