#Pieperfest14: Going to Iowa!

Julie and Jeanette on Southwest Airlines

My aunt Jeanette and I are on our way to Des Moines, Iowa to visit the land of our fathers (since we are German I will use the paternal). I have not been to Iowa since 5th grade—over 40 years. And Jeanette has not been back since 1969. The cousins have been out to visit California in between and kept up regular Christmas card correspondence with Auntie. So we begin this family adventure. We will go to Des Moines (via Las Vegas on Southwest Airlines). Then visit Decorah, Bondurant, and Stuart.

I am excited to get to know my cousins better and to experience a large family gathering. We are a small nucleus centered in Sonoma County. My mom is an only child and much younger than her cousins and my 2 aunties have small families too.

My dad is missing in action. We do not know his whereabouts in heaven or on earth. So going to Iowa also stirs up a lot of other feelings—some are quite stressful. I know his choices have nothing to do with me and yet I do sometimes feel really pissed off at him for cutting us out of his life. I can say “his loss” and stupid, stupid man for missing out on his terrific grandchildren’s lives, still it does not paper over the hurt.

This trip is about connecting and reclaiming the Positive in Pieper. My cousins are lovely people. I met up with Lori, Annette and Kathy in June at Auntie J’s. I look forward to seeing my cousin David again. He is closest to my age and my brother and I got into mischief with David and Marty when we visited Great Grandma Pieper. I hope to connect with my cousin Mary who took me to my first Quaker meeting.

And there will be pie.

Benefits of Bike Month

May is Bike Month.  Today I rode my bike to work downtown for the second time this week.  It helps that on both days it has been a lovely springy 67 degrees without wind.  Already I am experiencing the benefits of riding my bicycle.It takes me 45 minutes to ride my bike from home to Met’s offices, compared to 20 minutes by automobile.  The commute is more relaxed and enjoyable (except for the two blocks on K from Alhambra--under the freeway--until I get past the hospital).  It eases me into my day and helps me unwind on the way home.  Plus I do not have to find time for exercise when I get home.  I do not have to pay for parking or gasoline.  Already I am more than $10 a day ahead.My favorite aspect of cycling is that I observe so much more about Sacramento than I would if I were driving.  For example, I rode my bike to Fremont Park to eat my lunch where a unicyclist is practicing his ride; an older man is reading Wired magazine; a young family is enjoying a picnic and the playground; and earlier two men walked by deep in thoughtful conversation about existentialism and faith.  Oh, now a mom is blowing bubbles for her children.  Yes it is distracting, in the best possible way.
I have to smile and think that if I were visiting from another country and I saw all of this I would say, “Sacramento is a lovely place to live.”  So maybe it is the speed of life more than place that makes life rich and full.  Here I am living at the speed that I lived in St Heliers and I am reaping many of the same benefits.  (Then I remember the sea walk and I think, “No. St Heliers wins.”)
As I adjust to the speed of the bicycle I also have to revise my internal clock reference points.  So instead of getting off the freeway at 10th and W Streets and thinking I have 5 minutes until I am at the parking garage, I now get to Sutter’s Fort on K Street and think I have about 10 minutes until I am at the Capitol Garage coffeeshop.
The bicycle is not as agile as walking.  I still have to stop at red lights (I am not one of those daring riders who goes whenever traffic is clear as I am too law abiding and slow.).  And when a school bus or delivery van blocks the bike lane I sometimes get off and walk on the sidewalk for part of a block.  I am wearing my helmet and risking hat-hair, which I am assuming will still look better than a dent in my skull.    When I get paid (next week???) I am going to buy a cup holder and then Gidget will be perfect.

The automobile retains an advantage when I need to travel longer distances or carry people or pets with me.   The humble bicycle is gaining in popularity.  Today I met two colleagues to plan an event and we all rode our bikes to the meeting.

My bike enthusiasm was nought until Sarah started getting ready for Bike and Build.  Although I am addicted to watching the Tour de France every July, before Sarah's adventure it never translated into actually riding a bike. Today I can say that as long as the weather is fine, I would rather go by bike.  It is only May 4, so imagine how many more benefits I will realize by the end of the month.