Friday, November 28, 2008

A Memere's Thanksgiving


Ate some turkey
Ate some pie
Got some kisses
From my favorite guy
Tickled tummies
One and Two
Then watched them
Jumping to the moon
Dimpled cheeks
And Curly locks
Now sit still
When Thomas talks
The story done
Their off to play
When grandkids visit
It’s Memere’s day!

Monday, November 24, 2008

“Just Living is Not Enough"

A few people are raising a stink about a tattoo parlor moving to the Oval in Milford. (Stink about Ink). They are very concerned about the undesirable clientele that patronize such establishments. I’m not going to rehash the article as you can read that for yourself. However, I am going to tell you about a few of these “undesirables” I know personally.

A few years ago, I noticed a beautiful tattoo on a young man that worked in our office. I asked if I could inspect it more closely. The young man was pleased that I asked and extended his arm. Woven into the design was a man’s name. Now I could have made a number of assumptions. Instead I asked about the name. It was the name of his brother who had passed away. His brother had suffered from a heart defect since birth. With love and care his brother lived to early adulthood. He had been his best friend and confidant. The tattoo was to honor his memory.

Another not so young man has recently acquired a tattoo of his own. It is on his forearm. I recognized the name on this one. It is that of his son who lost his life in a tragic ski accident earlier in the year. His son had been a great athlete, an all around good American kid. The tattoo was to keep his son near. He will willingly speak about his son to anyone who asks. This beautiful tattoo, a tribute to his son, certainly encourages that.

An elderly woman celebrating her 90th birthday was asked what she wanted for a gift. “I want a tattoo of a Unicorn” she said. “I have always wanted one.” She went on to explain that all her life she had always done what was expected of her, and sacrificed that which she wanted for others.” The tattoo was a gift to herself as there was no one left to tell her “no.” I listened to her with great interest and knew there was a message here for me.

The old woman’s words awoke long held desires of my own. I had raised three girls. Bathed, fed and cared for each one. Took them to church every Sunday and tried to be a good example of Christianity. I had given of everything that I am and everything that I had. What I had forgotten to do was give something back to myself. The old woman’s words kept reverberating in my ears. There were plenty of years for me between now and 90 to enjoy my own tattoo. One I had dreamed about for years. That and the words of my own offspring who said,” who is stopping you mom?” propelled me forward.

So who are these “undesirables” that some Milford folk want to keep out of town? Is it the young hard working man moving through life without his brother? Is it the grieving Dad? Or is it the 90 year old woman who has been well respected in town for many years? The fact is this: One in four adult Americans have a tattoo. I am sure many of them are well respected hard working citizens. Their reasons for having a tattoo are as varied as there are people in this world. I could write another blog post about why I have always wanted mine. However, I think this expresses it better than I ever can.

“Just living is not enough" said the butterfly,
"one must have sunshine, freedom and a little flower."

Hans Christian Andersen

From Misc

Friday, November 21, 2008

Are You Still Drooling?

The landlord stopped by today with the HVAC guy. After a few short sentences to take care of business the HVAC guy asks if I’ve put the bike away for the season. I’m digging back in my mind to remember when last I saw this guy. He isn’t our regular guy. The fog lifts and a sunny summer day is recollected. The AC is down; HVAC guy to the rescue. We may not know each other’s first name, but I know how much he loves his Harley, and when he looks at me, vStar lady pops into his head.

We nod to each other in sad understanding at the passing of another season. We talk battery tender and Sta-Bil. The landlord chimes in. “You buy a new bike yet? Or are you still drooling.” Still drooling, I tell them. With that, I click the icon on my desktop and up pops the latest drool producer. It’s a Suzuki Boulevard all chrome and polish. Studded saddle and back rest, studded bags to match. There is a 360 view of photos and we scroll through them all. The heads bent over my shoulder are nodding. “Fine looking bike!” says the landlord.

I’m wondering if 800 is enough spread for me from a 650. The husband thinks not, a friend says “it’ll break a 100 easy.” He means miles per hour of course. Andy just wants me to have enough power so he doesn’t go through this again next year. He suggests we head out this weekend to a few dealers and sit on a variety of motorcycles to see which is the most appealing to me. I like the idea a lot! I may not find the bike that says “take me home, but I predict a lot of drooling this weekend.

Monday, November 17, 2008

The Airbrushed Model

During the course of a week I spent a considerable amount of time looking online at motorcycles for sale. Specifically, I looked at every Honda VTX 1300 out there. True, fall is not the time to look for a new bike, but considering the economy, I thought they would be out there. I was not wrong. There are a number of 1300 models on the market.

As I scrolled through page after page of motorcycles, one caught my eye. The photographs were beautiful! “Look at this baby!” I pointed out o my husband. “The description says ‘metallic red’ and it has the windshield, back rest and only 1300 miles. I want to go look at it.” With that came two days of convincing my spouse why I needed to look at this motorcycle NOW! This is how we came to travel for two hours one way to look at a bike for sale.

I have been considering moving up in size all season. Jade is a great bike, but like any child outgrowing the training wheels, I am ready for the change. Jade is not getting any younger either. It’s time. I have several specifications in mind when looking for a new motorcycle. A few of the items on my list are great suspension, fuel injection and tubeless tires. Now the VTX 1300 is carbureted, but considering that how it handles feels so great to me, I’m willing to forgo this option. When looking at the various models, the 1300 R is the one for me.

“But this is not the R” says Andy. “I know, but look at it! It’s the custom look I like, and the guy has some extras on it.” I protest. So we call and make arrangements to take a look. We travel the two hours by car to make the visit. We make our hellos and introductions and follow the seller to the motorcycle. As he opens the doors and reveals the bike something happens. Or should I say, nothing happens. I can’t put my finger on it, but I don’t feel anything. Should I? I sit on the bike. I roll it outside. The engine fires readily, the clutch is responsive and yet, there is no personality. Then I know what is wrong. When Jade and I met for the first time, it was love at first sight.

We spend about an hour there. We have after all traveled two to have this visit. So I take my time and check out all the specs. I look down at the spokes. Do I really want to clean spokes again? Didn’t I say I want tubeless tires? I can hear me talking myself out of it. I hear Andy begin negotiations. I’m giving him the eyeball from behind the seller, but he continues. Oh well, we are here and counter when the first offer is rejected. My offer is discussed with Mrs. Seller. “No thanks” they say. In a way I’m relieved. I get in the van before Andy indicating we should leave.

We take the two hour ride home discussing what I really want in a motorcycle. I have just begun the search and the right bike will come along I tell myself. “This bike did not scream ‘take me home’ to you did it?” Andy asks. “Nope.” I reply. It occurs to me that the photographs I saw online were like airbrushed models. They are beautiful to look at but they are not the reality. In person these models probably have no substance. So it was with this bike, all airbrush and no substance. We are home only ten minutes when the phone rings. “My wife and I have decided to take your offer” the seller is saying at the other end of the line, but it is too late. I am holding out for true love.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Big Red

Back when I was shopping for my first motorcycle I must have spent 100 lunch hours sitting on bikes in various dealerships within driving distance of the office. There was always one motorcycle that called me back time and again. Alas, I felt it was too much bike for me. Then I met Jade and we have been pals for the past five years.

During our Western vacation I put Jade through more than a 650 should have to endure. Always wanting to please, Jade gave me every ounce of energy she had within her cylinders to give. Desert heat in Arizona, to oxygen deprivation at 14,000 feet in Colorado, nothing kept her back. We have traveled more than 9,000 miles together this season alone. Each year, I push Jade to do more and more. Alas it is taking its toll.

Last weekend a friend of mine introduced me to Calypso, his magnificent Honda 1300 VTX. The memories of all those lunches sitting on this same model came flooding back. “Go ahead, sit on it” I was invited to do. “Start it up! Put it in gear!” The sound of the engine, the rumble of the pipes, my hands on the grips, it was too much. I was infatuated all over again. Calypso did not feel as big as I remember. He was well balanced, the clutch was responsive, and the height just right. I went home that evening and began my on-line search.

Page after page of photos scrolled through the screen this past week. Today, as one scrolled up it captured my attention. There before my eyes was the most magnificent looking 1300 VTX a person could behold. Windshield, saddle bags, floorboards front and back, the list went on. “Hello!” the photo said to me. “I’m Big Red.”

Oh dear.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Gel vs Acid

For the second straight year in a row, the first week in November is proving detrimental to Jade’s gel battery. In the future I will stick with good old fashioned acid batteries. Gel cells are touted for maintenance free operation. They are sealed so as not to leak, and can be used upright or sideways. The industry also claims they are less susceptible to freezing. OK, so the gel does not freeze, but as soon as it’s cold, it looses its charge. If not noticed soon enough, the gel battery cannot be recharged. I have discovered this first hand. I can see how they are better for the environment. First they don’t leak acid. Second, you can’t start your bike in cold weather, so you are not polluting the atmosphere, wasting fossil fuels, or leaving tire residue along roadways. You are also not having a lot of fun. Lead/acid batteries have more power are much heavier and can leak. Leaking acid is not a good thing. Not having your bike start on a cold day isn’t good either.

Today felt like Groundhog Day as once again, we rolled Jade out of the shed during the first week in November only to find the battery not holding its amperage. We hooked up the charger and thankfully the engine turned over. There I stood, scratching my head, as last weekend there was no trouble whatsoever. On top of that, it has not been all that cold this week. With the bike running we headed out. Twenty five miles later, we stop for coffee. Back at the bikes, helmets and gloves on, I turn the key, hit the starter and click click click….nothing! With Andy pushing, I jump start the bike and off we go again.

You would think that after 25 miles the battery would by now have a good charge. It is déjà vu. As long as the engine is running, things are fine, but I need gas. You need to take the key out of the ignition to open the gas cap. Crap! Oh, I have the spare key with me. Problem solved. We leave the bike running while we fuel. (I don't recommend this.) However, now we are hungry and want to stop and eat. We park the bikes strategically. I disconnect every non-essential electrical item, even the light bar. We enjoy our subs and back at the bike I turn the key, hit the ignition and click, click, click. Crap again! This time Andy has help from a patron and as they push I jump start the bike again.

Back home, I roll Jade into the shed. I take off the seat and side panel to remove the battery for winter. We notice that one of the terminal screws is a bit loose. Our eyebrows go up. Maybe there is hope after all. We carry Jade’s life giving heart into the house and put it on life support. Last year, while attempting this same operation, we experienced nothing but red lights on the trickle charger. That battery was indeed dead at only two months old. We connect the terminals, adjust the settings, and hold our breath. The amber lights come on! One by one, the amber lights are showing the battery is taking a charge. We will sit vigil and monitor with care, hopeful that this gel battery, just barely one year old, will be able to attain the green zone one more time.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Pop Culture and Digital Life

Living in the boondocks has its advantages and disadvantages. Let’s look at the plus side for a moment. The nights are peaceful and free of light pollution and noisy city traffic. The stars twinkle brilliantly in the firmament so that it seems possible to reach out and touch them. The wind whispers through the leaves and creatures great and small are likely to cross your path. They appear suddenly as if visions, and then are silently gone. At such times, we pause to admire these beautiful creatures that share the world just beyond out doorstep. Your morning alarm may be the wild feathered friends, or the rooster across the intervale. There is no travel to pick wild berries and you are likely to have fruit trees on the property. From season to season you are surrounded by beauty, and the sweet scent of nature.

On the other hand, there are inconveniences. You have to travel to work, to get services, or go to market. You learn to plan your time and consolidate your errands. You are often responsible for basics such as water and sewer in the form of well and septic system. When you are snowbound, you are quite literally cut off from the world. Other niceties of the modern world often arrive long after everyone else has enjoyed them for years, such as high speed internet, caller ID or even cable TV.

Out in the country, television reception is poor. Despite this, I have never found a need to have more than the three snowy channels I currently enjoy. The downside of this however, is the joking references that go over my head on a regular basis. The pop culture that generates from such shows as South Park for example means nothing to me. How do I know about South Park then? I needed to educate myself via other media outlets so as to understand if what I heard was an insult, complement, or just a joking reference. It can be quite time consuming trying to keep up with the current trends. Sex in the City? Never watched it, but you can get full season episodes on DVD. None of it timely enough for me to stay in the loop. Thank goodness DSL finally came to town so I could ditch dial-up.

Enter in digital TV. I start to imagine myself actually having a broader choice of what to watch should I choose to turn on the television. I send away for my government card worth $40 and pick up my digital converter. Once plugged in, the unit scans for signals. Nothing! How can that be? We have someone out to the house to put up a new antenna. “Sorry, you are not ideally located.” We have a second opinion. “We can put up a tower, but that might cost ten grand.” I write to the television stations as suggested by the FCC. Only one station writes back. It is the education I need. VHS and UHF are on very different bands, one narrow, and one broad. The snowy channels have been coming from the broader band. The narrow one can’t find us. It is on this narrow band that digital television will be delivered.

I’m having trouble convincing the cable company to come down my road, and I don’t like the monthly cost of satellite dish television service. It’s a hard enough pill to swallow that something once free must now be paid for. It looks as though I will not be catching up on the pop culture any time soon. Come February when the TV goes blank, so will my face with the next pop culture referenced joke.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Black Shoe Brown Shoe

A few years ago, a friend in the office stopped by my desk. “You’re flying low” I whispered. To my astonishment he became agitated and on the edge of anger. “Sorry!” I said, “but I thought you might like to know.” “I do want to know!” And with that he started to vent. He concluded with “a true friend will tell you your fly is down. People who really don’t care about you will let you walk around like that all day.” This story came flooding back to me yesterday when at 4:55 P.M. I reached down for my gym bag on my way out of the office and noticed that I had been wearing one brown shoe and one black shoe all day long.

The black shoe and brown shoe stayed on my mind all evening. “Do people in the office not care that I look like an idiot?” I began to wonder. “Do people in the office even look at me when I step away from the desk?” my mind continued. It is true that I spend most of my time behind the desk and not wandering around the office. However, the two shoes were so blatantly different that how could no one notice? I was beginning to feel invisible. Didn’t I speak to a lady or two in the women’s rest room? Did they look under the stall and snicker? I’m sure one or two of those ladies would have said something!

Now I know this is another shoe story. I am wondering at the significance of a story about shoes dropping and my wearing two very different style shoes. My feet never noticed the difference. If I had forgotten to wear one shoe would someone have noticed? I imagine they would because it is not an accepted practice to walk around wearing only one shoe. Also too, it may have been more of a bigger deal if I or someone had pointed it out.

I am sitting watching the election results and I think my shoes are trying to tell me something. Has this election become a big deal because it is? Or is it a big deal because we have the media telling us it is. If we were not having our eyes pointed so often at this issue or that, would the American people really feel the difference? Should we be looking at what is different? Or are we having our eyes redirected away from what which is blatantly missing. I believe we are being scammed by the idea of the first this or that and the word "change." We may soon all be walking around with only one shoe. That would be change. The sad part is, no one will say there is something wrong with that, but you can be sure they will have us believing it is perfectly normal.