Friday, September 28, 2007
Life on the Edge, as I like to refer to it, will be a wiki site where members can add and modify content. Linked to the companion sites "http://www.flickr.com/groups/nh" and "http://nh-photo.blogspot.com", it will be an integral part of the whole. Tim, a fabulous photographer, posts his best work at these sites.
The intent of Life on the Edge of New Hampshire Granite is to present snippets of life as experienced by those who make their home here. Contextually, we hope to limit the stories to personal experiences only so the collection captures life in the Granite State. In May, we collected a considerable volume of snippets by simply scouring our personal e-mail files. It was a great place to retrieve stories that we shared with friends and family.
The Wiki format is new to me. Collaborating, contributing and learning are all the features that attract me to this project. I have the time, talent and desire to work and make this project a success. These days, time is what I have of most. There are those who are not so fortunate.
Thursday, September 27, 2007
Tuesday, September 25, 2007
I was pleasantly surprised to find there are many of us in the world that are bored at work. There is a unique web site dedicated specifically to this genre. The title, of course, is “Bored at Work.” When you access the link there is nothing there but links to other sites. “How insightful!” I think. If you’re bored, there is no way you want to read some introduction that will make you yawn even more. Just click the darn link for some amusement.
My favorite is the link entitled Fast Food: Ad vs. Reality. Not a lot of wordiness here either. The author has simply posted photos from fast food chains of some item they are promoting, and beside it is a photo of the ordered item on your tray. My two most favorite are the burrito and the egg and cheese croissant. Looking at the photos side by side reminded me of the days I did art project with the kids. There is a product on the market called Modge Podge. You dip your art project into the white glue like substance, pull it out, and let it dry. The stuff dries clear, and whatever you dipped into it is set forever as you intended. I think that is what they used for the burrito ad. The egg and cheese croissant looks flaky, the egg and cheese balanced perfectly within. In the photo of the item served the customer the item looks squashed with contents dripping off the edge of the pastry.
I suppose I could pass the time composing my next short story, or better yet, the masterpiece novel that will make the best sellers list. I have noticed an anomaly with boredom. The more you are bored, the less motivated you actually feel. It is a no win situation.
Sunday, September 23, 2007
I leave early because I have to get fuel. I can never tell if there will be lines or if the roads will be busy. It turns out there are no lines at the pumps and the traffic on the roadways moves right along. The spot we have chosen to meet is the rest area just north of the Hooksett tolls.
I pull up at the toll to hand the attendant my change. I pull each quarter out of my coin holder, one at a time. It’s tricky with gloves. I don’t want to drop any coins, or stall the bike. That would be an embarrassment. The toll attendant is a woman. I judge her to be older than I am. She looks wistfully at Jade as I pull each coin one by one and proclaims that I’m sitting on her dream. I take it as not Jade specifically, but that she hopes to get out of the toll booth one day and ride for herself. I smile politely, but my thought is “dreams are what you make them. Just do it.”
I get to the meeting spot thirty minutes ahead of schedule as a result of leaving home early. My windshield is covered with mist, and the temperatures are not that warm. My leather pants are in one saddle bag and the rain gear in the other. I also have an extra long sleeve shirt and a fleece dickey for my neck. I don’t really want to use any of them today.
I settle in for the wait, and sit side-saddle against Jade. I’ve chosen my spot carefully, at the curb near the facility. The location is perfect for people watching and it’s not long before the show begins.
It is quite busy at the rest stop this morning and I wonder what could be going on when I spot a kilt clad young man walk toward the restrooms. The tartan is one that resembles the Cunningham Green, but I’m no expert. “Oh yes! It’s the Scottish Highland Games this weekend.” I fondly remember a few highland games I’ve attended and think maybe I should make a suggestion of my own when the friends arrive.
There are plenty of motorcycles coming and going. Some arrive solo, some are two up, and there are small groups of threes and fours. One group of older men is taking photos of each other. They throw their leather sheathed arms over each other and snap away. Those that have hair are sporting locks that are nearly white. All except one appear to enjoy the diners along the routes their motorcycles take them.
The dog breed of the day is a Golden Retriever. Good thing dogs have a keen sense of smell, as I can’t keep track of which dog came from which car. The dogs however, know just were they belong. One of these dogs has odd behavioral body language compared to the other Goldies. As I watch the interaction from this vehicle, it soon becomes apparent that of the three occupants, the woman passenger and the dog are ill at ease. The man struts around with a stogie clenched between his teeth. The woman stands at a distance from the car, holding her sweater tightly around her. She is extremely thin and her clothes are ill fitting. The man marches around to the back, opens the hatch, looks at the dog and points to the back of the car. The dog, on trembling legs makes two attempts before she makes it into the back. At each attempt she keeps a safe distance from the man, and one eye on him at all times. The man gets into the vehicle and startes it up. The woman makes a few tentative advances toward the car, but doesn't actually get in. When the car begins to roll away, she grabbes the door handle and jumpes in. Off they go and the whole scene that has just played out left me very uncomfortable.
A fifteen passenger van pulls into a handicap spot and a passel of teens spill out onto the pavement. At first I think it might be a church related outing. I soon realize by their interaction that it is one very large family. The kids all head off to the restrooms and the man I presume to be Dad, helps a woman out of the van. She is one large woman! I estimate her weight to be at least four hundred pounds. She is wearing shorts and a top. I watch the fabric flutter in the breeze. She steps aside and there is a duplicate of her inside the van. I am reminded of my mother’s humor. Having put on a few pounds in her later years, she would often proclaim that she was off to see “Omar the Tent Maker” when she went dress shopping. As I looked at these women, I chuckle to myself thinking that Omar is keeping busy these days.
The parking spot beside me has vacated, and soon three bikers come rolling in. Two Road Kings and a Softail pull up beside me. The man on the Softail is closest to me, and as he removes his helmet I can see that he must be in his late sixty’s. He looks over to me, points to the sky and in good humor, asks “What the heck is that?” All three examine the mist on their windshield trying to determine if it’s a result of fog, or if it is indeed beginning to rain. We each discuss what we know about the weather forecast. I tell them that there is a 30% chance of rain and it doesn’t seem to get any better going north. They don’t like the sound of that, but I remind them that it also means there is a 70% chance of staying dry. They chuckle and admit they never thought of twisting the percentage to suit them. I have just made three new friends.
Despite their admiration of the 70% prediction of staying dry, the youngest rider on the silver Road King pulls a small black zippered pouch from his saddle bad. The price tag is still attached and fluttering in the breeze. He holds it up for the buddies to inspect and says that when he bought the rain gear enclosed in the pouch, he told the sales girl he would be back after he used it so she could get it back in the tiny pouch. “I hope you got that in writing” I say. “After I opened my rain gear, it has never fit into anything smaller than that.” I inform him as I point to my left saddlebag. They are all silent for a moment and silver Road King shoves the packet back into his gear. Red Road King looks on and pronounces that if it should start to rain, not to expect that he will stop. The other two grunt acknowledgment, knock back the kickstands and start their engines. “Keep the shine side up!” I yell as they wave me goodbye.
The friends pull up. We decided to have a big breakfast in Concord and see how things look out the window while we eat. The pea soup thins, the temperatures begin to rise, and we decide to head north. At the next agreed-to stop, we can see that things are improving and the day unfolds as planned. Canopied scenic roads, sun dappled lakes, and enough open road to satisfy any wanderlust.
Thursday, September 20, 2007
So I don’t know why I was so surprised to dream that I carried my thoughts around on my flash drive. You techies know what this is of course, but for those of you who don’t; this is a small portable memory stick you can store information on just like the hard drive on your computer. Some MP3 players are essentially these portable flash drives. It is also affectionately referred to as a thumb drive or jump drive. They are so handy! I am currently carrying around my entire career on my flash drive, including my thoughts, articles and blog notes. Essentially, my life is stored in a 1-gigabyte drive the size of my pinky finger. Sad but true.
In my dream, whenever someone asked a question that required me to dig back into my memory for the answer, it wasn’t my brain I would use. I simply held the flash drive in my fist and lifted it near my head. The thing would light up (some drives do to indicate they made a connection) and I would search the files for the correct reply. No one in my dream found this odd! They all waited patiently for me to retrieve the information.
I actually like this dream! Can you imagine the scientific breakthrough this would be! To be able to transfer your thoughts and memories onto such a device would open endless opportunities. First, there is the global need to record the memoirs of people who influence historical events. Or, imagine being able to store vivid visual memories of eyewitnesses from such events as 9-11, to the more mundane recording of what your kid said to you that they later deny. Witnesses in court could just plug in their flash drive and get the scum convicted. We would have to write protect the files of course to prevent manipulation. This could open up a completely new segment in the technology industry. We do after all have prosthetics that operate through electrical impulses from the brain so I don’t think it’s so far fetched. I wonder if someone has a patent on this yet?
Wednesday, September 19, 2007
It isn’t only those I know that have encouraging words, some are from total strangers. While out to dinner on Saturday, the waiter who came to stand before us was none other than the personal trainer who encourages me to smile. His recognition of me was instantaneous. I made sure to give him my best smile. He had some philosophical words to say about how smiling affects our health in ways that exercise alone cannot. He seems to have a grasp of my state of mind in a way only those who know me well would understand. It was a surreal experience. He then remembered where he was and stood up straight and announced, “Hello, my name is Michael. I will be you server tonight!”
When Michael proclaimed his name with dignity and pride, I felt the hairs rise on the back of my neck. I had recently called upon Michael the Archangel to help me in the belief that the angles of the Lord are near, waiting for us to call upon them for assistance.
“Ask and you shall receive.” We have all learned this from our childhood, but how often to we practice asking for help or guidance. I intend to make it a regular habit making sure to express my thanks.
When next I saw Michael, he was quick to ask for a copy of my magazine article. I found delight in his request for my signature as well. I am far from a celebrity, but Michael reminds me that we are all special in our own unique way. It’s good to be me!
Sunday, September 16, 2007
Jade isn’t just a motorcycle to me, she is my companion. She talks to me and we share moments together that only we can understand. When we are out together, she communicates with me in many subtle ways. I try to always treat her with respect and in turn, she lets me know when I misstep. So this day, when I slide the door open to show her off, I can feel her energy and I know that I am looking at something that no one else can see. Jade has a pride that radiates and affects me on an emotional level. The friend is polite and inspects her up and down. As I watch, I realize that Jade has a dignified presence as well. We find ourselves standing before her with the respect that is her due.
I have often felt such energy in the presence of what others would consider inanimate objects and wondered at the tingling sensations I felt when standing in close proximity. I had no explanation for this until I stumbled upon the principles of vibrational energy. Everything in the universe emanates from the ethers and has varying degrees of vibrational energy. Thus all matter has its own level of frequency. All life emits this energy, some at a higher rate than others. Other sources of creation, such as the elements of the earth, also posses their own vibrational energy. It may be at a lower frequency, but it is energy none the less. If you have trouble with this theory, think about the fuel in your car or the power of wind or water. We harness the energy from these sources without a second thought.
Jade is not biological, but designed from elements of the earth. She has a vibrational frequency that can be felt for certain and by which she communicates with me. One of my children, when very young, needed a bit of speech therapy to help her train her tongue. I can remember many times when I was the only one who understood her words which baffled many in her own family. It could be that I understood her because I spent so much time with her, or it could be that I chose to be in tune not only her words but her body language as well. So it is with Jade.
It took me a while to understand the ways that Jade “spoke” to me. When I fire up the engine, does she cough and sputter or does she roar to life? When we ride together is there a vibration that I haven’t felt before? When I test her limits, how does she tell me of her displeasure? At times, it is none of these things at all. I will be clutching the grips and I feel the life beneath me and give her the respect she demands. We have kept each other from trouble in this way. When next I introduce Jade, my guest may not realize it, but I know that Jade lives!
Saturday, September 15, 2007
Today’s emotions and yesterday's are as far removed as night is from day. Yesterday found me arriving home to a bulky package in the mail from a motorcycle magazine. To my elation, there are five issues of the magazine enclosed. There is only one reason why I should receive five copies, and I quickly scan the index. My heart skips a beat. There, listed in the index is the title of the article I submitted. I flip to page ten to see my headshot along with the other photos and my article nicely wrapped around all. The thrill is intoxicating!
With such a range of emotions in such a short period of time, it’s no wonder I have hives. The only way I have found to prevent hives is to have a good cry. That is not an option at work. I’m relegated to following seven people around, one at a time, to look over their equipment. They have each prepared an inventory sheet for me to sign as witness. I don’t mind doing this for them. It will save a lot of headache should something be misplaced.
The ancient Greek philosopher Heraclitus, who lived in 500 BC, is credited with saying, “The Only Thing That Is Constant Is Change.” It is also evident that all things new are all too soon old. Why then does change cause us so much unnecessary anxiety? We usually adjust, the change is soon old hat, and something else comes along to replace it. Simple, right? Not so simple for me or for any of us, I imagine. With change comes uncertainty. With uncertainty, sometimes fear.
We all have our coping mechanisms. Hard work, dedication to our goals, perseverance and faith that all will be well, are some of the ways we keep from losing hope or succumbing to fear. I too do all these things, but sometimes there is nothing like a nice itchy red rash to distract your mind from your worry and help you get over yourself.
Wednesday, September 12, 2007
If there are 2 of you, you will meet some interesting people.
If there are 3 or more, you will only meet each other,"
~German man traveling alone in Dunedin, NZ~
quotes from the Open Road
I am starting today’s blog with a quote that I came across a few years ago. I had been to a motorcycle event solo. What I expected and what I discovered were so very far from each other that when I stumbled upon this quote I felt compelled to save it. In traveling alone, I found that people approached me and engaged me in conversation unlike when I travel with other people. I made many new acquaintances and the trip turned out to be quite memorable.
There have been some interesting people popping up around me these days and I feel it is a direct result of going about the world solo. My lunch hours, errands, the gym or even just a walk around the block is alone, unlike the days when the company was teaming with life. In those days, we only saw “each other” and the world carried on around us. I find that I am grateful for these strangers. They reach out in ways that make me feel a part of the bigger picture and help me realize that I am not isolated or alone.
In the past twelve hours, I have interacted with individuals who seek to engage me in conversation. I always feel special after these short encounters. Last evening, while waiting for the stock clerk to return from the back of the store, a young man knocked over a display. The boxes tumbled about and one even bounced off the young man’s head. I half notice this as I was watching for the clerk. The young man, possibly embarrassed, looked me squarely in the eye and pronounced how he had intended things to tumble just that way. I looked around and complimented him on the box bouncing off his head directly into the basket. “You must play soccer,” I said. “And if you don’t, you should begin.” Thus ensued a lively conversation cut short by the clerk’s return, but we both left with smiles on our faces.
During my short break today, I carried a roll of paper towels and some glass cleaner outside to the parking lot. This morning when I decided to ride the motorcycle, I had forgotten how much splatter it had accumulated from riding in the rain on Sunday. It bothered me so much I wanted to clean the windshield and polish off the chrome to maintain my biker dignity. From around the corner comes a Suburban that screeches to a halt right beside me. “Now that’s the way to spend a lunch hour!” the man announces. He has one of those long mustaches that reach to the bottom of his chin and he is grinning ear to ear. On his head is the typical scull cap riders are so fond of wearing. I realize I’m speaking with a kindred spirit. He then hears my riding-in-the-rain story to which he asks many questions. This pleases me, as there is nothing I like more than bike talk.
It is his turn to tell me his bike story. It seems his teenage son has decided school was not an option today. As a reward for the son’s good judgment, this man has assigned his son the task of polishing all the chrome on his own motorcycle at home. If the chrome does not gleam when the man returns, the son will have the pleasure of repeating the task. I suggest that since his son enjoys staying home to polish chrome, maybe he could add my bike to the list for good measure. The man’s eyes twinkle with devilish pleasure at the thought. We exchange a few more words as bikers often do, lamenting at the waste of such a fine day indoors instead of out riding.
As he drives off, the quote above comes to mind. Although I am not traveling on vacation, I am traveling the road of life. How fitting it is that my handle is Sojourn. It suits me well as I travel each day and meet many interesting people. I may be alone, but I am far from lonely.
Sunday, September 9, 2007
We have been on the road for a while and stop to refuel. I’m wearing the rain gear over the riding gear which makes everything feel too bulky. However, the layers add warmth. Soon we are off again picking our way along the back roads of Maine, inching our way home to Southwestern New Hampshire. The rain has been steady and at times heavy, which makes visibility poor. My concern is not so much for seeing where I am going, but for those behind me. One small tail light can be overlooked in a downpour.
We stop again for lunch. I have an ache that begins at one shoulder, radiates across the back just below the neck, and ends at the shoulder on the opposite side. My gloves are clinging to my flesh and it is an effort to pull them off. As I twist to wring them out, I notice the wet leather has turned my hands black. I take a step back and I not only hear, but feel the squish of my soggy boots. Those looking on may have pity on me. Am I uncomfortable? A bit, but I am hardly miserable. A few hours in wet boots can’t overshadow a memorable weekend with friends riding the glorious roads in Maine.
Thursday, September 6, 2007
I have been going to my girlfriend's hair stylist for the past year. Over the course of our friendship, this woman’s virtues have been touted repeatedly. I eventually became one of her clients. My one instruction to her was that my hair had to look good when I pulled off my helmet. I was sure she wouldn’t be able to accommodate that request. I was wrong.
Not long after I had been going to Rose, I received compliments on more than one occasion, while on group rides. No one is sure what is different. “Did you cut your hair?” Or, “What is different with your hair?” Or simply, “your hair looks great!”
I went to Rose on Tuesday for my three-month haircut. Why do I go only every three months and not more often? I am following a routine for growing out hair that encourages trims at three-month intervals to prevent splits from destroying the whole hair shaft. The only resolution for split hair is to cut it all off. That would be counter to my plan. Rose is very accommodating and tolerates the three-month interval plan.
While Rose is cutting my hair, she stops suddenly. With both hands, she envelopes my head, smoothes it all down slowly and exclaims what a joy it is to work with such nice soft hair! She then explains that most of her clients have treated hair, and she is accustomed to the straw feeling that results.
I have a flashback from high school. Gym is over and we are all in the girl’s locker room changing. As I’m leaning over to untie my shoes, a classmate runs her hands over my hair and exclaims how soft it is. She wants to know what I do to make it so soft. I of course am too busy wondering if she is gay to appreciate the compliment.
Is my hair perfect? Hardly! It’s unruly and has a mind of its own. However, it is soft, and it’s nice to know I have something of envy to others.
Then there is my smile. Smiles are something people just do, but for some reason, people remark about mine. The first time I recall having someone comment on it was at age six. My bad eyesight became evident at that age. Mother began taking me to an eye doctor for treatment. He was a gentle gray haired man who loved to refer to me as “smiley”. Over the years, this has repeated itself in many variations. Still today, I often hear from others about my great smile. Lately, however, I have been hearing comments about its absence from my face. “I really miss that terrific smile you used to have.” one employee said upon arriving one morning.
Yesterday, after I finished the cardio portion of my routine, I stepped over to see if a bench is available in the weight room. As I approach, I step around a few folk and look through to check the benches. I wasn’t paying attention to the two directly in front of me. I realize one of them is trying to get my attention. I pop the headphone off my ear. “Excuse me?” I say. “Things can’t be all that bad? Smile! You have such a pretty smile!” says a personal trainer who is working with a client. He then looks at the client and says “Doesn’t she have a great smile?” I smile for the client; he nods and continues his repetitions. “Oh, sorry.” I say, “I guess I’m just into my tunes.” The trainer calls me on this. “Well, they're your tunes! They should make you smile.” He looks at his charge and says, “I’m still counting.” The young man grimaces and continues his reps. I decide to ‘fess up. “OK, well, I’ve had a bad summer” He doesn’t let up. “What could be so bad that you can’t smile anymore?” I tell him that on June 10, I worked with 130 people. On June 11, I worked with 20. He tells me that he has worked four jobs this summer. He lost his job while in a foreign country and he couldn’t speak the language. “OK, you win.” I tell him. I look at his client and say, “he’s still counting.” We all have a good laugh. I see an empty bench. I’m anxious to extricate myself from this conversation. “I’m going to grab that empty bench!” I say with my most pleasant smile. He nods approval and waves me off.
I have a long weekend planned with lots of people around. I think I will practice smiling. I want to reclaim my smile along with my inner and outer beauty. I’ll bring the Mojito mix and bottle of rum. That’s always good for a smile or two.
Tuesday, September 4, 2007
My friends have been there by my side giving me guidance and encouragement. Yet despite this, I have let myself become despondent and swallowed up in my own self pity. To make matters worse, I began to lash out at the very friends who have been so supportive. I realized this last week in the words I was saying to a dear friend. I felt ashamed of myself, but instead of apologizing, I cut them all off. Better they I stay away from them, than to insult and hurt them. I have never felt so alone.
My cell phone rang today and it was my friend Steve. We chatted and then agreed to have lunch. Why did I go when I had decided to cut everyone off? As I mentioned before, Steve’s advice is always sound, so when he speaks, I listen. So I accept the invitation. It has been a few weeks since the last time we got together. He described me as “barking” the last time we had lunch. Wow. Barking. I have been barking at my friends. “You become what you think about all day long. Monitor your inner dialog.” * I had never considered how self fulfilling such a thing could be. I am giving myself so much negative talk that is has infected all that I do, think and say. It manifests in my demeanor, body language and facial expressions. And now I bark.
My friend Steve has helped me see what the words of Dr Dyer alone could not. I came back from lunch with a lot on my mind. Not about poor me and my lack of progress, but how I have begun alienating people who care about me. After all, the world will not end if I don’t get my way now. Things usually work themselves out eventually. When they do, it will be a lonely place if I have no one with whom to share the good news. Toward the end of the day, I extend my first olive branch. It is readily accepted. “I am one lucky girl!” I think with joy. Dr Dyer would be proud.
*Dr Wayne Dyer