Tandem, An American Love Story

Old Freinds

We found Bill and Jeanette Duncan’s place easily enough in the farm country west of McMinnville. I wanted to visit Bill to have him and Jeanette meet Claire, and to thank Bill for having faith in me when I first came to Portland.

Bill, along with Bob Dahlstrom, owned Glass-Dahlstrom Printers. Bill was sales manager and had to put up with my stumbling attempts to learn how they do things in the big city. I learned much from him, and owe him much for his patience while I got the hang of it. All of us have a few people in our lives who take the time to give us a hand up. Bill Duncan is one of my special people.

Bill showed us the garden (the sugar peas were a few days off, darn it) small orchard and several acres of hay.

We toured Bill’s home office, where he showed Claire a picture of me with long curly hair from his ancient history collection. Fortunately I had gotten rid of the wide lapel, rust color, corduroy suit by then.

We had dinner, talked until late and left after breakfast the next morning for Lake Oswego.

Not long after we left Bill and Jeanette’s the next morning, we were speeding down a hill when, pow, we had a rear tire blowout. The thorn proof tube flatted slowly enough to allow us to safely stop the bike. At first we were puzzled; we couldn’t find the cause of the puncture. We were surprised to get a flat because we hadn’t had one in the several thousand miles since we installed the thorn proof tubes in Texas.

Then Claire saw that a piece of the rim, about one-quarter by one-half inch in size, was missing from the rim. The sharp edge left by the rim failure had cut the tube. We dinged the rim on a rock on the C&O Canal trail in Maryland; it took another 9,000 miles to fail.

Since there was no use in installing a new tube, it would only puncture again, and more quickly than the thorn proof one, we started pushing toward Newburg, a few miles north.

When we had pushed less than a half-mile, a large van pulled over and we were offered a ride to the Newburg bike shop by Rick Lapinski. He and his wife ride a tandem! How lucky could we be. The shop couldn’t match our rim, but came close and with one that would use our spokes so the drum brake would not have to come off. Within an hour and a half, we were on our way.

Soon after we left the bike shop we were yelled at by some young men in a pickup. I couldn’t hear what they were saying, but it seemed to have to do with the bright orange roadkill, No Smoking sign, we had on the back of Zippy. We’d found it along Interstate 5 south of Roseburg and decided it would make us more visible. Big mistake.

People, sub 30 men mostly, started yelling things at us; one stuck his cigarette out of his pickup window, attached to his middle finger. Very creative.

I guess some people take a no smoking admonition as a threat to their personal freedom. One man in McMinnville seemed to be shamed by it though. We saw him twice, and each time he turned away and hid his cigarette. Maybe he’s wanting to quit. Remembering how many times I failed to quit, and how miserable I felt about it, made me feel sorry for making him feel bad. Then again, maybe he’ll try again, and succeed.

Finally we decided we didn’t need to give justification for someone to hit us, “But judge, they deserved to die! I was out of cigarettes and their sign taunted me.” We decided to donate our sign to the Lake Oswego landfill.

June 7, my birthday. A very nice birthday. My sister Emma and brother-in-law Merrill took us out for Thai food (one of my favorites) and when we came back, we pigged out on an ice cream cake.

Emma and Merrill and my other sister Anna Ruth came to spend 10 days with us while we were in Tucson. They wanted to make sure we were as healthy and having as much fun as these newsletters depict. They decided we weren’t exaggerating.

We mostly took it easy here, except that I wrote three or four hours most days. Emma is a wonderful cook and fed us lots of the vegetables we always crave, and we cooked the Creole dish for them.

Every evening we took a long walk through the neighborhood, and talked family stuff. Emma and Merrill habitually walk each evening, rain or shine (lots of rain this year); that is their time to talk, usually just the two of them.

It’s special when couples have their own sacred time together. Life long pair-bonding doesn’t just happen, it takes constant participation and communication. They have their walks, and we are always privileged to share that with them.

We also had dinner here with long time friends Jack and Linner Mishler and their three children. The oldest two are into soccer, gymnastics and dance classes. And people think we have lots of energy.


Tandem, An American Love Story — 3 Comments

  1. Thanks for the memories, and the update on your own adventures. That last few days back to Sequim was bitter-sweet after more than a year on the road. We’ve never been the same; a good thing.

  2. What a marvelous and beautifully descriptive article about a simply amazing woman – Karen Landis. I’ve had had the serendipitous experience to create and nurture a friendship with Karen after I underwent a hip replacement and three hip fractures and realized I needed to request the local “Meals on Wheels” service. And of course, if she didn’t have enough on her plate, Karen serves the Chino Valley community two days a week by delivering meals to people in my circumstance.
    I loved Karen the first moment I met her. And when we started chatting I knew I had met a soul mate. I’ve been looking all my life for a role model, a hero, an amazing example of humankind. I don’t know if she realizes what an outstanding example she is of a strong, independent, intelligent, talented woman. Sometimes as women, we have a dentency to undervalue ourselves. But Karen, I want you to know you are the real deal. You are just so beautiful in your authenticity. And I a so appreciative of the value you have added to our environment by caring for the land and the animals under your watchful care. Your abilities and strength simply boggle my mind. And thank you for your loving service to me these past four months. You rock girl!

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