Friday, February 25, 2011

the cargo effect

We recently purchased a cargo bike - a massive three-wheeled chariot for transporting things like children.  This was motivated by two things.   Firstly, my partner and I have a bit of an anti-car  agenda.  I feel bad about driving children relatively short distances in a car when I would normally walk or ride my bike, if I didn’t have two children in tow.  And secondly, I am desperate for some vigorous physical activity.  Walking at the pace of a 5 year old does nothing for my cardio vascular fitness.  Riding a fully laden cargo bike around, on the other hand, is a fairly strenuous workout.  At first I felt a bit self-conscious about my very visible presence and being quite possibly the first person with a cargo bike in our suburb.  We definitely attract attention.  But apart from saving money on petrol, reducing our ‘carbon footprint’ and increasing my physical fitness, there is another quite lovely and unexpected bi-product.  Total strangers come up to me on the street to talk about the bike, people wave and call out encouraging things, parents at school come over for a chat. Our kids LOVE it.  They sit side by side, have a chat, share a snack, enjoy the wind in their hair and, I think, feel a bit special.  When I get home after the school/crèche drop-off, I have had my ‘work-out’ and get that fantastic burst of energy and feeling of aliveness that you get from physical exertion.  And also I feel happy that I am in some small way connecting with the community in which we live and breaking down some of my natural reticence and latent misanthropic tendencies.  All this from a bicycle (or tricycle to be more accurate).  Amazing.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

A New Routine

Our five year old daughter started school last week.  Things seem to be going fine - no howling at the school gate (unlike her mother at the same age) and she seems to be adapting to the change.  Her three year old sister is in creche two days a week, and although she is less enthusiastic, she seems to be getting into the swing of things.  So, with my partner off to work and the house quiet, I have two days where I can (from the hours of about 9.30am - 3pm) do some WORK.  This is just as well, because I have a fair amount of work to do.  I'm re-writing a course which I'll be teaching in second semester and writing a piece of music for a performance in October and I also have a couple of other 'projects' I would like to get under way.  Although it is only the second week of my new routine, I am beginning to experiment with different work schedules.  Writing lecture notes and composing music are two quite different activities and I am finding that the best approach at the moment seems to be one day of words and one day of notes.  I find it difficult to change easily from one to the other but maybe this will be a skill I can develop with practice.  Once I am immersed in the world of sound, I want to stay there for as long as possible and the same is true when I am focussed on words and theoretical ideas.  For the time being, this is probably the most efficient way of working.  I'm also trying to make time for things like playing the piano - something which I've found very difficult to do with two small children around.  I remember thinking, when I was pregnant with child #1, that I would be able to play the piano with the baby/toddler/small child beside me, happy to listen to music.  This has NEVER been the case.  Either the children have cried, complained, joined in or just generally pestered me until I stopped.  It is lovely being able to sit for 20 minutes and play some Bach Preludes and just enjoy making music.  And then, with my mind focussed, I sit down and get on with some words or notes and reconnect with my thinking and creating self again.