Monthly Archives: July 2013

This thing which happened, part two

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So we arrived at the dealership.  It was a Harley and Triumph dealership.

Let’s just get this out of the way.  I’m not really a Harley person.  No offense, they are fine motorcycles, but just like some people are cat people and some people are dog people, some people are Harley People and some people are Not Harley People.  It’s just not my thing.

Also, I’m not really a cruiser style bike person.  Cruiser style bikes are all leany-backy and stuff.  Your feet are in front of you.  No me gusta.

Nor am I a street bike type person.  Street bikes tip you up so your behind is in the air.  It’s not comfortable and makes me feel like I’m going to fall on my face.   (Also, what if the wind hits me just right and I really do have a buttsong?)

I’m not an off-road type, even occasionally.  Me likey the pavement.  So no “adventure” or “enduro” bike for me.

I want something small enough to ride in town, which leaves out the big old touring bikes with all kinds of niceties like fairings and luggage and cruise control and reverse and stereo and cup holders.  My dad rides one of these.  I affectionately refer to it as a Hondabago.

So that pretty much leaves what is called a standard bike.  Your feet are below you, you aren’t leaned forward or back, it’s pretty comfy.  The engine can be biggish but it’s still nimble enough to muscle around in town and you can get a ways out on the highway without feeling like you’re riding a skateboard.

At any rate, we were met at the door by a tall, slender guy whose shirt patch declared him to be — I am not making this up — “Slim Dave.”  Apparently there is another Dave and rather than call that guy “Chunky Dave” or “Tubby Dave,” they decided to call this guy “Slim Dave” for purposes of differentiation.

Anyway I told Slim Dave, “So if anybody had ever told me I’d be walking into a Harley dealership…” and he looked at me very seriously and said, “AND Triumph.”  And I said, “Which brings us to why we are here.”

We admired the various models of Triumph and Slim Dave inquired about whether I might like a test drive.  The Lovely Rhonda mentioned that if there was, perhaps, an orange Bonneville lying around the shop, well, I might like to see that one.  Possibly.

So we moseyed up the elevator to the warehouse, which is this big room stuffed full of shiny new motorcycles, and there it was: the orange one.  That one orange one.  I was nearly struck dumb, which if you know me at all you know that this is almost an impossible state for me to be in.

They lent me a helmet and gloves, I let them photocopy my license and signed an impressive looking paper saying I wouldn’t steal the bike or sue anybody if I got hurt, and would be a good girl and follow the rules of the road and not break any laws or anything.  Evidently when you test drive a brand new motorcycle you are not allowed to be Sick of the Man Keeping You Down.

I had not ridden in ten years and did I mention I have anxiety issues?   So the butterflies were thick and fast, but Slim Dave was comfortingly trusting so I figured I’d go with it.  He rode alongside me on … some kind of motorcycle.  No idea what.  We rode around for a little while, and I learned some stuff:

If you rode a motorcycle for around ten years, and then you didn’t for another ten years or so, you will not have forgotten how to ride.  You will be a little rusty, but you will still know how to ride.

A brand-new motorcycle with four miles on the odometer is delightful to ride, but you’ll be terrified to drop it like a noob.

Everything works on a brand-new motorcycle, including the throttle.  I was so used to crusty old bikes with sluggish throttles that I felt like a jet pilot on that thing.

If you loved to ride ten years ago, you will still love to ride.

When I got home I learned another new thing:  you will still fit into your old gloves, which are coincidentally the only thing you kept from ten years ago when you gave up riding.   They are nice lined gauntlet gloves that I got at Langlitz Leathers back in the day, and they are nicely broken in and comfy.  They are old friends in glove form.  I’m so glad I kept them.

This thing which happened, part one

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So about ten years ago this thing happened which was that I got pregnant with Elder Spawn.   She is now nine years old.

At that time I owned a BMW motorcycle and a little Honda Scrambler, both “vintage.”

In motorcycling terms “vintage” can mean “really old and cool” or it can also mean “kind of old and a huge pain in the ass because you have to repair it constantly.”  I’d say these bikes could fit both of these meanings comfortably.  But I digress.

I also owned a certain amount of cycling gear like a full set of custom Langlitz leathers and such.

I dislike loose ends, and I didn’t want to maintain — expensively, probably — motorcycles that I would not have time to ride, so I sold the whole lot.  It was painful, but my life was moving in a different direction and it just didn’t make sense to keep any of it.

So for ten years I’ve been waiting.  And when I met The Lovely Rhonda I told her of my motorcycling history, and she was interested in getting motorcycles one day.

And that day has come.

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One day recently I found myself driving home and having a conversation with TLR via cellphone about how Gary gets to get a motorcycle and I want a motorcycle and I know it’s still a ways off but I want one now.  Whine whine whine.

I didn’t really mean anything by it except that I had a yearning and it was uncomfortable.  Like an itch in an embarrassing place, but in my brain.

Gary is a coworker whose wife has given him the green light to buy a motorcycle.  They moved here from the East coast and he sold his motorcycle before they moved and now he gets to get a new one.  He told me this a couple of weeks ago.  And it planted a seed.

So as I wheedled and whined my way home that afternoon TLR said this thing which figuratively speaking stopped me in my tracks:  Come home and change clothes and let’s go look at a motorcycle.

It didn’t literally stop me because freeway.

So I put on long pants and my trusty old boots and off we went.

Jump Start

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So today The Lovely Rhonda and I went to a motorcycle dealership.

I have my endorsement but TLR does not, and having never ridden a motorcycle before, not even a dirt bike or scooter in her misspent youth, she will need to learn to ride.

We are familiar with a local dealership that has a “JumpStart” device, rather like a bicycle trainer, where a motorcycle is mounted onto a trailer with a roller for the back wheel.  Essentially it becomes stationary.

The tricky part of learning to ride is working the shifting.  Your left hand operates the clutch, your right hand the front brake and the throttle.  You shift with your left toe, and your right foot works the rear brake.  It’s exactly like shifting gears in a car with a manual transmission, but everything is in different locations than you are used to.  Muscle memory has to be learned.

A person with a crappy old motorcycle at their disposal has a lot less to lose than, say, a person who will be facing learning to ride on a brand new Triumph Bonneville.

Did I mention that I have anxiety?  I’m really quite surprised that I myself ever learned to ride, I have such anxiety.

So we wandered down to the dealership and requested that Rhonda be given some time on the JumpStart.

The nicest, goofiest, most affable old duffer in the world was paged and once he understood what we wanted, he went off to get it set up.  From the way he talked, it became apparent that it would be set up in front of the dealership where customers were browsing motorcycles or sitting at umbrella’d picnic tables awaiting repair or service work.  Multiple customers.  Mostly Harley riders.  Crusty, black-leathered, vest-wearing, bandanna’ed Harley riders.

TLR paled.  “Uh, it’s out front?  I kind of thought it would be, um, somewhere inside.”

“Oh no!” says the duffer, “You’ll get to ride in front of the entire store, and they’ll all be staring at you!”

Then he cracked a grin and said, “You see all these guys?  They were all just like you once.  They’ve all been there.”  And then told us how he’d bought his first motorcycle,  a Honda 90, when he was in the military, in Nashville TN, and had an hour to ride it fifteen miles back to base before curfew.  Oh, and he didn’t know how to ride, and he had a friend along who didn’t know how to ride either.

So yeah, compared to that she had it kind of easy I guess you could say.

So we went outside and he offered to put a Bonneville on it, which didn’t fit because the Bonneville has a shorter wheelbase than apparently any Harley.  The JumpStart device is made for Harleys.

Then they got a different Triumph which fit.  “It’s the first time we’ve ever put a Triumph on it,” says the old duffer,  “so we’re making history here.”

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By this time TLR was about ready to give it up out of embarrassment, but with encouragement from the duffer she pressed on.  As luck would have it, a large number of the shop rats and dreamers had wandered off to the strip club or strip mall, respectively, and there were relatively few onlookers.

Despite the fact that the bike is stationary, the owner of the dealership has a rule that anyone on the premises who sits on a running motorcycle and puts it in gear must wear a helmet.  So the old duffer set her up with a loaner helmet and onto the thing she climbed.  I stood by helpfully holding her Coach purse and taking photos.  photo(4)

She was absolutely convinced that she would kill it, but she didn’t.  And although the clutch was difficult to get a feel for because there was no real resistance on the rear wheel, she did awfully well at shifting.

She gets her permit on Wednesday.  Stay off the sidewalks!

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This thing that happened today

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So this evening I took it upon myself to finish the project I started yesterday.

Yesterday evening I got a wild hair to clean the minivan, Moby Titanic.  It had been a while and the filth level was teetering on the brink of acceptable levels of sloth.  It’s one thing to say, “Oh dear, sorry about the mess, you know how it is with kids” to the poor co-worker who has been forced to hitch a ride to lunch with you, as you toss a few library books and a stray sandal into the back seat.  It’s quite another to say, “Oh, you’re riding with me?  Give me about ten minutes to stuff all the crap into the stow-and-go compartments and hang half a dozen Little Tree air fresheners to hide the smell of moldering graham crackers and despair.”

And so it came to pass that I spent a carefree ninety minutes clearing away various bits of domestic detritus from the van’s interior,  vacuuming every last crevice and cleaning various of the grimier bits with spray cleaner.

It was during this time that I spied something between the front passenger seat and the mini-console next to it, something that I had long since given up for lost: my car keys.  They disappeared around New Year’s, because the last few days before you get married are obviously the ideal time for your keys to come up missing.  Evidently they had fallen there at some point during the frenzy of preparation or possibly the night we went to the drag show where I had a certain number of adult beverages, numbering perhaps three.  For me this is something like depravity.  Don’t judge.  Anyway, a stray Home Depot receipt or similar had then fallen atop them, concealing them completely from view in the narrow dark little space.

So this means that for seven months we drove my keys around, wondering all the while where they could possible have gotten away to.

I didn’t have time to wash the van’s exterior what with all the OCD detailing and lost-keyring-finding exultation going on, so this evening I fired up the garden hose and went to town on that thing.  It turns out that beneath the crusty layer of filth, it’s a fairly nice white minivan that we have.

My nine-year-old joined me in this which is to say that she pranced around with a soapy washrag taking swipes here and there at random locations on the van and then entreating me to spray her with the hose.  I enthusiastically reluctantly agreed  and thus was she soaked to the point of drippy saturation.  When she wanted to go in the house a bit later I got her a towel and brought her around to the back door so she could strip down out of view of the neighbors.  If we let her drip all over the newly-installed floors our handyman would probably kill me on sight.

My kid is what you could call an enthusiastic nudist, charmingly free of self-consciousness and all too ready to get naked whenever the occasion calls for it.  In another year or two this might become cause for alarm but for now it’s just the exuberant innocence of youth and I for one applaud it.

The Lovely Rhonda might have applauded it also up to tonight, but maybe not so much any longer.

I am not sure what in the world caused me to say it but my mouth opened and words came out:  “Hey Delia, I dare you to go over and press your naked butt up to the patio door.”

Perhaps it was that I remembered seeing a perfect print of her nose and mouth to the glass surface of one of the French doors a couple of days ago, and perhaps also it was that I possessed the knowledge that TLR was seated at her desk just on the other side of the doors.

Very possibly it was just the whispered voice of mischief keeping me from getting too close to sainthood.  Nobody likes a goody-goody.

My child doth not disappoint.  She raced over to the door and gave it the full moon, laughing and grinning like the juvenile delinquent that I am evidently raising her to be.

I am sorry to say that I then dared her to wave it back and forth, which she did.  At this point TLR came over to the doors and under pretense of unlocking them,  lowered the blinds in each one without a word and then yelled through the closed doors that she would never be able to get that sight out of her mind.

I laughed until I cried.  Eventually she let us in.

I am still laughing.  I am a terrible person.

Family Camp Week

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So every year for the past four years, and conceivably for all future years, we have attended Family Camp at our church’s camp out in the sticks.

I say for all future years because there are people attending this camp who have been doing so nearly all their lives, and they are older than I am.  And I don’t think it’s any big secret that I am terrifyingly decrepit.  So apparently once you begin attending this camp you can expect to continue doing so for all eternity.  There are two ladies who have got to be in their 80’s who still come every year.

Now, “church camp” stirs up all kinds of impressions which I would like to hastily dispel.  We do not have lengthy camp meetings with laying on of hands or speaking in tongues.   Nobody thumps a Bible at anybody else.  It’s not brainwashing.

What we DO is we meet in the morning to talk about a certain amount of church related things (Jesusy stuff, you wouldn’t be interested) in the laid-back groovy UCC way that we have of doing things, and we eat lunch and go swimming down at the swimmin’ hole, and we have dinner and vespers which is a totally awesome way of saying we get together and talk about church related things again for a short time, and then we have campfire.  Also in there between swimming and dinner we do some crafts if we are so inclined, and some people also manage to get in a certain amount of napping, no names mentioned *COUGH COUGH RHONDA FOR FOUR SOLID HOURS ONCE COUGH COUGH*

Oh, and there’s also field games and hiking and all kinds of stuff.  This camp is on a couple hundred wooded acres with creeks and cabins and trees and dirt and bugs and stuff like that.  There is lots of The Nature to wander around in, if one is so disposed.

This was our first time going for the whole week, and we stayed in a rustic (translation: electrical problems meant that the stove hood light worked at random intervals and one room upstairs had no power at all for reasons that were unclear) cabin with our BFF Kirsten and her three magical offspring, the youngest of whom is only nine months old.  The other two are nearly exactly the same ages as The Lovely Rhonda’s girls.

The cabin is divided into two bunk rooms downstairs and two bedrooms upstairs, with bathrooms adjoining to the bunk rooms as well as one upstairs for the bedrooms.  We put the five girls in one bunk room and Kirsten, the baby, TLR and myself in the other.  Another camper stayed in the upstairs bedroom that did have power.  It was groovy.

Did I mention  how infants like to wake up in the middle of the night or very early in the morning and scream?  They do, in case you were uninformed.  This is useful information for those who might be tempted to travel with infant-having persons of their acquaintance, and so I mention it now in case this might describe either of you, dear reader(s).  I like to be of service to my fellows.

Kirsten was afeared that we would disown her for this but Happy Fun Ball is such a cheerful, adorable baby who smiles ALL THE TIME  that we couldn’t really hold a grudge.  Not much of a grudge.  Not too much of one.  Not much.  Of one.  Of a grudge.  Thing.

What was I saying?  Fatigue has made me a bit punchy.

Anyway, we made sure the cabin was stocked up with snacks and Cokes for late night cribbage and towels for swimming and fans for the incredible sticky wilting summer heat, and we had Family Camp.

On the last night we had a very fun campfire with lots of singing (I have become a Camp Song Dork) and s’mores, and then we coerced the camp counselors to hang out in our cabin while the children slept so that we, the alleged grown-ups, could sit in the lodge and play games.  This was super fun, made even more so by the fact that when we broke out the modest array of snacks that we had remaining, the response was so enthusiastic that we dispatched The Lovely Rhonda back to the cabin for more, and then watched as everything that was offered was devoured nearly instantly.  I think it is safe to say that neither of us expected these people to eat cheese doodles and peanut butter M&M’s, after seeing them eat salad all week, but they did, and with considerable gusto.

Camp is this place with singing and crafts and really, really nice people, and for all that it is an hour from home it’s a magical hour such that when you drive out to town to get something it’s like you’ve re-entered civilization.  We love it.

However, we’re not as wild about the mounds and mounds of funky camp laundry that we have to wash when we get home.

Still worth it though.