November Cycling in Northern Illinois by Erin Wade

It’s a curious title, the one heading this post. Curious because, as of this particular post, there’s been precious little.

While I can usually find something to enjoy about all of the seasons, Autumn is often my favorite time of the year. The colors change, the temperatures cool down, and the air takes on a delightful, crisp flavor that is very pleasant. It’s a delight to walk outside and see the carpet of leaves across the lawn.

But to be fair, that’s true for the first, say, third or so of Autumn. Then November comes rolling in. And it’s not the temperatures that are a problem. No - we have been running with high temps in the 40’s and lower 50’s, and we’ll be there or a little lower for the next few weeks at least.

The problem is the rain.

I’ll ride in just about any conditions - beastly hot, bitingly cold, and just about anywhere in-between. I’ll ride in a spring or summer rain as long as visibility isn’t too compromised. But the cold November rain? That’s something else.

Fortunately, this past Tuesday finally offered a reprieve, and like that cool glass of water sitting, tantalizingly just out of reach at the end of a long desert trek, it was all the sweeter for it.

While the roadways are clear, the trails are covered in leafy patches in varying shades of amber and brown.


And while the rain is an impediment when it’s falling from the sky, asphalt dampened by the prior days rain combined with a leafy slickness is the perfect recipe for opposite-lock sideways adventures at speed...

You might simply say that it felt good to get back out on the trike.

Now, possibly if I invested in some good, solid, water tight riding clothing I’d feel differently about the November rain, but riding without such gear in pervasive wet conditions in 40° weather is something different entirely. And, if things go awry with your wet weather gear under these conditions, it gets unpleasant in a hurry. And it would take some pretty amazing wet weather gear to prevent all intrusion under those circumstances. But my strike out back on the trail makes me want to explore the possibilities.

Because then I wouldn’t have spent quite so much of November thus far looking out the window, looking at the radar, and swearing at the weather gods. So a searching I will go, for it seems unwise to be swearing at weather gods...

Norse Mythology by Erin Wade

![Norse Mythology](FullSizeRender (3).jpg)

Neil Gaiman probably needs no introduction for regular readers. He is a prolific author primarily of fantasy and fantastical stories, sometimes bordering on horror (and sometimes stepping over that line with works such as The Graveyard Book). He has embraced a variety of formats, stretching out beyond novels and short stories and into comics and children's books. He collaborates with illustrators across multiple formats, often to great effect.

One of my personal favorite examples of this is The Wolves in the Walls. This is an illustrated children's book I read to my child so many times that I can simply close my eyes and immediately picture entire sections of the book. It's a delightful read that uses its illustrations not just to entertain, but to guide the reader - it's clearly meant to be read aloud, as the hand drawn text changes size and shape as stage direction for the intensity and volume the reader should employ. To this day I can say to my child "when the wolves come out of walls..." and get the response "'s all over". The experience with this book led LB to seek out Gaiman's work as they were seeking out other material as well.

When I learned that Neil Gaiman was putting out a book on the Norse Myths I was both delighted and frustrated. Delighted because it's Gaiman writing in an area of long-held personal interest - I grew up on Marvel comics and I've always been particular to Thor (Hercules and Zeus can suck it). That had led me to seek out and read accounts of the myths themselves. I've returned to them again and again over the years, and I always find them as old friends.

Frustrated because I've always thought of them as fruitful ground for my own writing, well, you know, eventually. And here Neil f&@king Gaiman is, stealing my thunder (<--that's a Thor reference. Get it? Anyone??).

Turns out that the stories he presented here are different than I expected. For the most part he's hewed closely to the original stories, modernizing them slightly in terms of language, and fleshing them out just a bit where some additional detail is needed. It is, frankly, a demonstration of storytelling mastery - he knows the core of the stories are strong, and only adds what is needed to make them more accessible. It's a real service to these tales, which do reflect human struggles as shown in the lives of gods, but can sometimes be culturally different in a way that may make them hard for the uninitiated to follow.

As is typically the case, I listened to this book rather than reading it. There's an additional bonus here for the audiobook customer, because Neil Gaiman is a master storyteller. He routinely reads his work in public, and virtually always reads his books when the audio version is recorded. In a lot of ways, his writing style reflects this - he writes like a spoken storyteller, and while his stories are fine to read silently to ones self, they are virtually always improved by being read aloud, and never more so than when being read by Neil himself.

These tales are from a different culture in a different time. The motivations of the characters are unimpinged by many of the consternations that modern western audiences will be familiar with (though fans of the show Vikings will likely find similarities here). They are very much worth exploring, and never more so than with this opportunity - explore them with a master storyteller to guide your way. And - if you can - take the opportunity to do so via audiobook and let Neil take you all the way there.