Thursday, February 26, 2009

Patience is a Virtue

I have often lamented that my patience could use improvement. Being patient means waiting out the tiresome habits of others. My husband tries my patience. It often seem deliberate to me. When I need assistance with something, I had better be ready to wait as help will not arrive until he has completed whatever task is currently occupying his time. As a young mother, I was often frustrated waiting for little ones to finish a chore. Children are so easily distracted by the world around them. If an ant crosses their path, you can be sure it will be followed; its body studied and the purpose of its mission discovered.

In my more pious days, I often prayed to the Lord for more patience. What the Lord bestowed upon me were more ways to practice at being patient. “Lord” I would lament, “just bless me with patience as I don’t have time for practice.” But practice it was to be. So that I would get plenty of it, the Good Lord saw fit to set me down with 130 people for whom I would need the ultimate practice in patience. They are all very fine people, but they never seem happy or satisfied. They are too cold. They are too hot. There is a hum in the ceiling above them. My in-box fills daily with complaint upon complaint. It is part of my work to iron out their complaints. It’s never ending. I cease to have compassion for their plight.

Recently I came upon this definition of patience:

Patience is quiet hope and trust that things will turn out right. You wait without complaining. You are tolerant and accepting of difficulties and mistakes. You picture the end in the beginning and persevere to meet your goals. Patience is a commitment to the future. *

I’m supposed to picture the end in the beginning? Persevere? A commitment to the future? What a revelation! If I had understood this definition of patience sooner I would not have wasted so much valuable time with being frustrated at my circumstance. In my personal life, my friends are finding me critical and annoyed at their every word. In my professional life, I’m intolerant of what appears to me to be half hearted efforts.

It seems I have been looking at this patience thing all wrong. Recently I decided to wait out a situation rather than demand a result immediately. I will wait to see how it unfolds. I didn’t know that was being patient! I thought I was being self-disciplined. I recognize that I do have a goal in mind. I will try this perseverance thing. If the definition above is correct, I will be gratified when my goal is met.

The waiting without complaining will take effort. I complain to vent frustration. I will need a plan to overcome my habit of complaining. Possibly holding the goal before me will help me focus. Reason seems to indicate that your focus will drive your actions toward that end.

In motorcycle training courses you are told again and again to look where you want the motorcycle to go. If you do so, the motorcycle will go there without fail. Once you focus on the object you are trying to avoid, you will surely hit it. This seems a good analogy to use for patience as well!

Author's Note:

A few years ago, I wrote the piece above during a trying time I wished to overcome. In my frustration over the hurdles I am now encountering in bringing home the new bike, I dug this out to help me persevere. Maybe it will help you too with a circumstance in your own life.


Saturday, February 21, 2009

Seek and Ye Shall Find

It has been months since the search began. I spent hours upon hours of reading specifications, doing research and understanding each make and model. Then the endless weeks of visiting this forum or that forum, asking questions and reading reviews. Every weekend hour not occupied by duty had us visiting dealerships or motorcycle shows so that I could sit on the saddles, lift motorcycles off their kickstands, test the weight and balance. In the end I was sure of what I wanted.

Next I logged into eBay to watch selling prices, looked up values in books of blue, brown and black. Made sure I understood the model, its idiosyncrasies, and the current value. Knowing full well that when talking with sellers, being an educated buyer is the first order of business. What I didn’t count on was the stubbornness of sellers, gripping at their perception of value with an iron fist.

The haggling war is brutal! There is clearly overpriced stock on the market and despite the best evidence brought to them, the sellers hold firm and unrelenting. They believe spring will bring out the buyers paying any price. The year 2008 was their best season ever they claim, despite being reminded of gas prices and the desire by commuters for affordable transportation. Clearly, I needed help. Who better than my New England Rider friends to turn to advice, information and yes, even help finding the perfect fit! They did not let me down.

A good biker chick is tough, holds her chin high and keeps her emotions in check. Right? …Then why am I filled with sentiment for the good folk in the background scouring the country, literally, for the perfect bike for Pat. In my dismay at the overpriced stock, the non-haggling dealers, and the private sellers who place tour model prices on their stripped down versions, it was the New England Riders who came through for me. The New England Riders always come through in the end. Not only did certain individuals search out bikes, they talked with the owners, did research of their own, and always, always, without fail, helped me with any question or problem I encountered.

I am currently working out logistics for a purchase in Pennsylvania. We are agreed on the price, yet there are hurdles to overcome. I am thinking of it as my own already, and scolding myself against those thoughts. Any number of unforeseen problems can arise. Still, as if a new baby is on the way, I have Andy getting things ready. Can a woman be any more blessed than to have a spouse who will go out in the biting wind to dig away a snow bank and uncover a motorcycle trailer? Then spend his day off repairing the damage from our vacation, and making modifications needed for a single bike. To top it off, agree to drive her 320 miles to complete the transaction. Do I have a tear in my eye? You bet your ass I do buster.

From 2009 season

From 2009 season

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Be Seen

Visibility is everything. Jade sports a number of modifications that help us be seen by other drivers more easily. Over the years I have installed a modulating break light, a front light bar and even a modulating headlight. I tend not to use the headlight feature much anymore because others have indicated that, on my particular bike anyway, the high beam is more noticed.

The rain gear I own is generic. It keeps me dry and is durable enough for use on a motorcycle. The colors are blue/gray. Not a good color to be wearing on a gloomy day. Therefore, I use reflective tape on my back and across the chest. Typical riding gear is usually piped with reflective material as well. All of this is essential if being seen on the road is important to you. Friends have made modifications to their own bikes that I admire from time to time. Extra light sets front and back, anything legal to make sure no one misses their presence on the road.

I have seen reflective tape on the backs of helmets too. Some wear the bright reflective vests over their jackets. The vest selection seems to be more a personal choice, and I have seen this more among women then men. My personal preference is my white riding jacket in summer. Bright and reflecting the sun enough to give me a bit of comfort. I’m sure many of you have made modifications to motorcycle or clothing you feel helps make you visible. If so, please feel free to share these ideas here.

Maintaining visibility is true for both my passions; riding and writing. I explore various types of media by which to present my craft to the world. Here on this blog in the side bar are a few links where you can read more of my work. When I step away from motorcycle topics I use Helium as my venue. If you are curious about what other thoughts cross my mind check my articles at Helium. Also, I have recently been accepted and published on I am pleased that Ezine bestowed me with their “expert author” status too. Take a moment to check it out. As always, feedback is welcomed.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Polar Extremes

Saturday found us at the Northeast Motorcycle Expo in Boston with friends. The show seemed rather subdued compared with last year’s event in my opinion. Nevertheless, any day out that involves motorcycles is never a waste of time. I came away with the impression that this was a day to observe extremes, from mild to radical. A few of my favorites are below.

I have a thing for tail lights. Maybe because I have been nearly victimized by a number of modifications folks have done to their bikes. Once, while following a VTX, I nearly rear-ended the woman because her tail lights were nearly invisible. She had great Beetle Bags with the build in tail lights. Unfortunately, these lights were so tiny and dim it rendered them nearly invisible.

Next is my dear friend and riding buddy who has added upper and lower lights to the left and right lights on his Nomad. When he brakes, they all flash including the standard center light. He has also tied these left and right upper and lowers to his turn signals. Unfortunately, if he brakes, and then signals, they are all flashing leaving you with an understanding that he is braking but sometimes unaware that he is also making a turn. On one ride, the confusion left me unaware that he was making a left turn. I managed to avoid colliding with him, but Andy could not avoid hitting me. Now that you have a better understanding of my fascination for tail lights, check out two of my favorite extremes at the show.

From Boston Bike Show

From Boston Bike Show

Anyone who rides will understand how important a comfortable saddle is, especially if you like to put on the miles. Looking at this saddle left me sympathy pains.

From Boston Bike Show

Before I get to the next polar extremes let me tell you about Lee and describe his riding style. Throttle full on, lean on the hairpins ‘til sparks fly from the floorboards. Mr. Lee is no Sunday rider. Fast and furious taking the Nomad on turns that would give the most seasoned racer goose bumps. Knowing this about him, it tickled my funny bone to see him test out the feel and balance of these next two rides. Polar opposites for sure!

From Boston Bike Show

From Boston Bike Show

Then of course, if your spouse in not in the mood for yet another motorcycle outing, you can always remind them of the eye candy waiting. It’s a bargaining chip I know, but I do what I have to do.

From Boston Bike Show

Friday, February 6, 2009

Short Fiction Completed

My distasteful experience these past two week with a non-haggling dealer put me in a funk. Whenever I’m blue, I find solace in writing. To feel better, I picked up my short story manuscript and put on the finishing touches. That is to say, I consider it polished enough for a second go-round with my two mentors.

Last month, while attending a meeting of my writer’s group, my lady mentor asked if she had been too brutal in her critique of my draft.
“It was a cake walk,” I told her “compared to my writer/editor friend.”
Indeed, her comments and critique were of great value to me. While I had a good grasp of manuscript preparation, I needed more direction with how to present dialog. She gave me information about reference material and resources I could use. Mr. Mentor on the other hand did not frost the cake at all.
“Some of your sentences are too punctuated.”
By that comment he did not mean punctuation, but rather he thought them too staccato.
“You transitioned too quickly and need to give more detail following this paragraph.”

Yes, I did take some liberty with the advice that you should not spell everything out for the reader. In doing so, I left much out that had the reader confused and having to guess at too many details. The staccato sentences were a result of being cautioned against long and rambling sentences.

This advice was given to me over a month ago, but as in most of my writing, things happen in my head first before they end up on the paper. My first problem is in the more detail that is needed. If I add the detail, I will end up with more words than is the definition of short story. What to cut? Every writer feels their every sentence a gem. However, I knew there would be culling. My main character would have to give up a treasure or two I had put in his mouth.

Before I added or cut, I gave the manuscript to a few friends. This is a gut wrenching ordeal. Once you release your treasure, it is no longer the glimmering thing you believe it to be. To date, I have only a one-third response from these friends. The feedback from the one-third is positive, with commentary on particular points. This is encouraging and helps me believe I am on the right tract with the story line. The silence from the other two-thirds is what sent me back to the drawing board with post-its of the most brutal feedback from Mr. Mentor.

Writing fiction has been an interesting exercise. While developing the story line the characters came alive. Their dialog began to flow from them in ways that surprised even me. At times I found that I was no longer in charge of who said what, and that the characters themselves were directing the show. I’m going to continue to polish the story and find a place to have it published. My lady mentor has already suggested I read aloud an excerpt of dialog between two characters she particularly liked. You can’t get better feedback than that!

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Time Out

I take a break from all that is motorcycling to delve into the world of women. I wrap up the gifts and head to a baby shower for my niece. My daughters are there with grandkids in tow, a bonus in my book for any family event.

Aiden and Paulina are sitting by each other when I arrived, just in time to witness a debate over just who’s toy it is. Not a problem. When you are three and almost two, these things resolve quickly. Soon Paulina is feeding Memere bits off her plate. I suspect she feeds me the items she does not want. I realize that she has tasted them first before feeding them too me. Oh well, not big deal.

The kids are then enjoying kiddy music and Paulina is doing her best dance. She so loves music! Aiden moves on to the trucks. While I’m distracted by the next gift being unwrapped, Aiden is tugging on my pant leg. I look down and he is holding up his little hand. I see a set of teeth marks on the back near his pass stamp to tumble bus. He is not crying but has a serious pout going. I kiss the booboo all over, then rub it and since it is still red, give him a wet paper towel to hold over it. He accepts the wet towel, and walks around the room so that everyone can notice his suffering, hand held out, with the other little hand holding the paper towel firmly in place. After a while, he puts the paper towel down. However, each time it catches his attention, he reapplies it for good measure.

I sit with Paulina for a bit and draw for her on a little writing board that erases quickly with the flick of a leaver. She erases them as quickly as I draw them, and then indicates I should draw another. We are all distracted once again by the gifts being unwrapped. Paulina takes the opportunity to nab one or two of those little self contained creamers for coffee, and I chase her around the room trying to get them back before she figures out how they open. She’s a clever one for sure! The coffee creamers retrieved, she finds the extra bottled drinks stored under the table and begins to hand them one by one to her mother. All is quiet for now.

Meanwhile, it seems Aiden has had just about enough of a room full of ladies. He digs into his bag and pulls out his blanket. Then he lies on his back, pulls the blanket over himself and closes his eyes. He looks angelic with the lashes fluttering his cheeks. He doesn’t stay long because the cake is being passed around, and even little boys will tolerate a room full of women for a piece of cake.

I’ve had my family, grandkids and women bonding fix. Now let me get back to the motorcycle hunt. The sun is staying up later each day, I’m beginning to hear sounds of spring, and my throttle hand is getting itchy.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Saga Continues

To say it has been an interesting week would be an understatement. A few of my acquaintances, who found it odd that a dealer would say his prices are "firm" decided to begin negotiations as though they were an interested party. Hence began a week long exchange of correspondence that turned into an eye-opener.

One friend in particular managed to make headway. However, the price negotiation was so negligible it was not worth the haggle. Despite holding up various other listings of the same make, model and year that were posted below the dealer's own motorcycle, he would not be swayed. Then came the insult to injury.

While checking the listing on eBay, I found several of the model I am interested in, and with shipping even came in below the dealer in my own back yard. Then when I visited the site toward the end of the week, low and behold, there was the very bike I have been trying to open conversations about! How many ways can you say "pissed!"

I wanted to blast an e-mail that very moment to the local dealer. I know only too well what it takes to list on eBay. You have listing fees, then final sales fees, and other fees associated with being a merchant on eBay. The person could have saved himself all the trouble if he had been willing to talk. I held my typing fingers in check...until Saturday morning.

In the morning, I reviewed all my facts, checked the listing again, and then typed a pointed message in response to the very last "the price is firm" message in my in-box. To my shock and amazement, the phone rang not long after that. It was the proprietor of the dealership.

He was polite and let me recount the events from my side of the fence since I sat on this bike at the show on January 25th, how much I felt insulted that he would not talk with me (a woman perhaps?) but would talk to my male friends. He listened to it all. Since he was making the effort, I listened in return.

He explained his side of the coin, and although I may take some of it with a grain of salt, I will give him the benefit of the doubt on certain points. Our conversation ended cordially, I believe, and a bit more respect for each other. In addition, he even help sooth my wounds with telling me that he will be heading to an auction this week. If he sees the make and model I'm looking at, at a good price, he will keep me in mind.

I'm calmed down for the moment. My acquaintance was quick to point out to me that I now have a dealer shopping on my behalf. Having someone on your side doing some leg work can't be all bad. The lesson too, is this. There are always two sides to every story, however, considering that the reserve price on eBay is lower than what he would negotiate with my friend, I am not going to hold my breath.