Friday, February 26, 2010

Living in New Hampshire is not for Wimps!

My cell phone is what gets me up this morning. Sometime during the night, when I realized the power went out, I set the alarm. Now I’m lighting candles and hurricane lamps to see in the morning gloom. I’m glad we never boxed these up after the ice storm of December ‘08. They are still strategically placed around the house. I light the burners on the stove for some heat. Switching to propane cooking was the smartest thing we’ve ever done. At least I can boil water for instant coffee. I’m counting on the battery backed-up CO units to keep me alerted for fumes. I know the batteries are new so I’m not worried.

I boil water first, and get a gallon jug of water from the kitchen. I make my way to the bathroom sink with both and give my self a PTA bath. Please don’t ask me what PTA stands for, I think you can figure it out. I change my mind about what I’ve decided to wear for today, and put the blouse back and pull out a sweater instead. Then off to the kitchen for instant coffee.

Then I call the 800 number for the electric company. Typically when the power goes out, you can listen to a recording that will inform you of which towns are experiencing trouble and an estimate of when power will be restored. A chill runs down my spine when the voice tells me there is “wide spread power outage in New Hampshire.” No town listings, no estimates. This means only one thing. Disaster has struck! Memories, still vivid in my mind of the days without power, the cold nights, warming my feet by the space heater, climbing into a bed as hard as a rock (remember this if you’re thinking of buying a Temprapedic) and lugging changes of clothing to the office to shower before work.

At first, I think about dragging out the battery powered radio to hear just how bad it is, but decide against it. I’ll know soon enough. My plan today is to head south to the Lexington Massachusetts office as I can’t be certain the Merrimack office has power, so why bother? There is a plus side to a long ride. I can warm up in the car, listen to all the news, and be sure to find the lights on when I arrive. The news on the radio is not good. The reality is much worse than I imagined. Roofs blown off, devastating fires that wipe out blocks, and trees and limbs down everywhere.

When I get to the Massachusetts office, I’m rewarded with warmth, hot coffee, bagels and internet connection. I put my head down to work and try not to think of the long cold weekend ahead. At noon, I cover the lobby for the receptionist. There’s a nice set of windows looking out over the area from this third floor suite. The employees passing by and I can only watch out the window with slack jaws. The Lexington blue sky has become an ugly dark gray, the rain begins to fall in torrents, then mixes with snow. While we watch a flash of lighting streaks past, with a resounded BOOM to follow. The Massachusetts folk complain about no umbrella. If that was the least of my concern, this would be one fine day. I’m heading home in a few hours to no lights, no internet, no TV and not heat. I have no idea how long I will have to endure this circumstance. The only thing I am certain about is that living in New Hampshire is not for wimps.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Focus: Obstacles vs Path

It has been nearly a week since our visit to the Northeast Motorcycle Expo in Boston. While there I found myself focusing on the finer detail rather than the bigger picture. Amidst the hustle and bustle of crowds, rows of vendors and a kaleidoscope of colorful motorcycles, it was the detail that caught my attention. Sounds of milling people became as background white noise, and peripheral vision more tunneled.

As the week progressed I found myself looking at my life from the motorcycle perspective. Motorcycling teaches me more about life than I once realized. When applied to my current circumstances, I find that I am learning so much of value. For instance, in motorcycling it is important to understand the road conditions and anticipate the obstacles seen and unseen. Yet, it is not the obstacles you should focus on, but where you are going. You can’t look at your fender and hope to get to your destination safe and sound. In the motorcycle safety course, you are grilled about “looking where you want the motorcycle to go.” If you do that, you will reach your destination. I can assure you, that if you are looking at your fender you will not be traveling far.

I am traveling a new road these days, figuratively and literally. Yet, while I am dodging the obstacles left and right, my sights are set well ahead. I can see the twists, and bends, the uphill battles, and the places ripe for coasting. I still have time to enjoy the scenery, but not let it distract me from my destination.

Not long ago all I could see was the fender, and I sat waiting for the impact. Then these words of wisdom were spoken to me by my dear friend Lee.

“Pat, what are you doing to strategize your position?”

What indeed? I began to look up, ahead, and down the path. Once I started to look where I was going, things started coming into focus. I’m looking where it is I want to go, overcoming obstacles, enjoying the ride, but never losing sight of the destination. Enjoy the scenery of where you are going, and as in the photos above, appreciate the finer details, but never ever forget where it is you want to be.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

What We Think About

I have a few friends and acquaintances whose intelligence astounds me regularly. Information and knowledge oozes from them, and they are limitless resources to me. I watch them with fascination and wonder. “How do you do that?” I might ask one, as he spouts a quote, and remembers lines and lyrics with little prompting. Their technical knowledge ripples on the surface, and I often think of the abyss in Yellowstone Park wondering at the bottomless depths of their human intelligence. I wonder what it’s like to be them to remember things with ease. For they seem to understand not only the who and what, but always the why a thing is or isn’t. These are the thoughts that occupy my mind in quiet moments.

These days I have more quiet times to muse as my commutes are considerably longer than they once were. It isn’t technical issues, lyrics or famous quotes that bubble to the surface on these long winter drives. What I find myself doing is navigating the roadways, watching my fellow commuters, judging their moods, anticipating their moves, and always driving with the eye of a motorcyclist. I have selected lanes, watched traffic patterns, judged distances, watched the angle of the sun and squinted through the solar glare. “You will not want to take the bike to work on that route” I’ve been told. Yet, I’m doing my homework. I want to be my own judge of what is, and isn’t something I would care to do.

I’ve discovered some interesting parking at the “other” office. It’s a pad just for motorcycles complete with carport like roof. Why would I turn away from such plush accommodations? Just thinking of Blaze protected from the sun’s baking rays, or pop-up thunderstorms gives me motivation to find alternate routes, or at the very least, understand the route I travel now. The New England Riders will never suggest a long commute is a bad thing if you are on your bike. “More miles of smiles” they’ll tell you. It may still be February, but already I can feel the effects of the sun’s strengthening rays. Blaze’s hibernation is nearly over and I must be prepared.

Tomorrow, for Valentine’s Day, Andy is taking me to the bike show in Boston. I have some shopping to do. My first order of business is to become more visible. I’m shopping for a florescent vest that will out do the solar glare and wake those sleepy drivers. Maybe some reflective tape for the back of the helmet is in order too. I’ll be scanning the vendors for any and all ideas that will result in a motorcycle commute that is enjoyable, keeps me alive, and brings smiles to this face.

I still wonder about the workings of those master brains. What makes them tick and tock or what things they think about when they commute to work. It’s possible they have the same mundane thoughts the rest of us do about the bills that need paying, what they might eat for lunch, or where the cheapest gas is sold. These days, that mystery is taking the passenger seat to thoughts about what makes the best of this commute on a motorcycle, composing prose in my mind, and how to blend the two into the best of both worlds.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Envy is Such an Ugly Word

Last night found Andy and me enjoying the company of our fellow riders at the Annual New England Riders Holiday Party. The usual casts of characters were present to offer some great verbal banter, not to mention the typical tickling of the funny bone a few of them are noted for. Lunatic Tim has a great sense of humor and if it’s not coming from the lips, he’s wearing it boldly on his chest.

Phat Pat surprised me in that he one upped the Lunatic.

Then there are those who are genuinely interested in news and keep up with each and every individual. With my new duties at work, I posted on the board the reason for my infrequent visits as of late. True to form of the caring nature of the NER, many asked about the details of my new working adventure. The NER has a way of being all inclusive and making you feel like family. What a great bunch of riders!

While this year’s event may have taken place a bit later than in past years, it served to instill keener anticipation for the upcoming season. However, it took one lady to trigger in me an envy that is going to have me scheming for my own adventure this summer.

Come June, Kate, also known as the Bee because of her bright yellow Harley, will embark on a solo trek across the country that will take her from Massachusetts to the Puget Sound in Washington. She is incorporating Spot, has Scorpion USA lined up as a sponsor, and is looking for someone to sponsor lodging. Her trip will include stops in Wisconsin, an extraordinary road along the Mississippi, the HD museum (of course) Yellowstone, Glacier National Park and the Canadian Rockies to mention only a few. She’s finished with a few engine modifications and a new set of handlebars for greater comfort.

Bee will be traveling for a month and anticipates clocking 9,000 miles by the time she returns. Since I can’t budget a month of time for myself this season and am relegated to a much shorter trip than I’ve enjoyed the past two years, you can bet I’ll be following her on Spot. (The green eyed monster will probably be sitting right beside me.)

Want to know more about Kate’s adventure, follower her progress on Spot or just learn more about long distance travel, visit the links I have below. You might want to visit her shop on line too. If you or someone you know can sponsor lodging, use the contact information at her website, The Bee Hive.

Kate's own words.

The Bee Hive

Kamala Boutique