I was riding along one day at the Riverfront Heritage Trail underneath I-70 near the sewage treatment plant. A guy I used to know that I’ll call Charlie used to hang out down there, and I’d see him on my way home at 9:00 or 10:00 at night and stop and talk out him. Turned out he was at the prison work release site down there in the bottoms and since he had an evening job he had an exemption from their curfew. He told me that he’d gone to prison for robbing trains.
“How do you rob a train?” I asked him. Because you can’t just stick your hand out and tell them to stop. He said that his group would drive a truck to the train yard and find a spot where the trains were stopped and just start unloading the good stuff.
Charlie told me, “We were doing real good at this until the one night we got caught….” One time I gave Charlie a copy of my poetry book and he actually read it, the whole thing. I don’t really know how many people can make time to do that. The next time I ran into him, he said, “Oh, you’re an Olympian. Now I won’t feel so worried about you out riding these trails at night.”
So in the spot near where he’d hang out one day I ran into piece of iron with a U shape attached to a stick, like maybe something that would prop up a pipe. I put it in my panniers to take home to my neighbor who works at Lowe’s so I could ask him what this random piece of iron underneath I-70 might be. Panniers are saddlebags, people never seem to understand the French word when I say it. I dropped it in there and then completely forgot about it.
About two weeks later I was running low on cooking oil so I rode down to City Market to get my favorite oil at the Asian market. I’d met a guy last year at Alternatives 2009, the national mental health consumer conference. He was doing free physcial health screens at the conference because people with mental illness often have physical ailments as well that reduce their lifespan by quite a lot. John told me that eating high quality fats is one of the most important nutritional choices we can make. I told him that I cooked with olive oil. “Oh no, that’s no good,” he said. “Olive oil breaks down during the cooking process into less healthy fats. You need to get an oil with a higher smoke point.”
So at the Asian market I found some grapeseed oil. Here’s the picture of the grapeseed oil. The rich green color is from the oil, not from the plastic bottle at all. Better yet, the oil is only $12 for this big old bottle. Better yet, the oil is packaged locally, right here in Kansas City. Plus I’m supporting a local family owned merchant that sells a lot of vegetables and inexpensive healthy food to low income people. Rain Harris‘ orange sculpture from Art KC’s award luncheon is shown in the background. So is the potted cactus garden that my boyfriend got me and then I decorated with Monopoly’s Community Chest card that says, “You have won second prize in a beauty contest. Collect $10.”
I loaded this size of bottle of oil into my panniers along with the other groceries and rode home. When I got home, took the oil out and found a whole in the bottom of the bottle and about half the oil had leaked out. I flipped the bottle over and carried the oil upstairs and poured the rest into a glass bottle and finished out my day. The next morning I went down to the basement and saw a huge slime trail straight from my pannnier into the basement drain. Funny, I thought that the oil had leaked onto the road instead of thinking it was caught in my panniers. I brought the panniers upstairs to wash them. The water got so black that I realized I’d never washed the panniers before. Then the mess in basement was even worse. I had to call the plumber for advice and I still have some sticky spots.
But the oil is really good for cooking. I still haven’t figured out what the iron thing is because I keep forgetting to show it to my neighbor.