Sunday, November 25, 2007

Riding Light

The world of motorcycling has quite a few safety rules. Good rules, like checking your tires and your chain and head light and so forth. They are not simply convenience checks; they are life and death items. Should one or more of these things not be right or within 'operational parameters,' fact of the matter is, the operator could die.

And so goes for loading a bike for a long trip. The more things placed on a bike, the more its handling will be effected. Sure, there are saddle bags and sissy-bars one can strap things to. But, that is not what the bike was really intended for.

From the 2007 Honda Rebel CMX250C Owner's Manual, page 29, “Your motorcycle is primarily intended for transporting you and a passenger.” There you have it, straight from the manual.

Perhaps on a trip, one should travel lightly, only bringing along a bare minimum. Traveling with too much cargo, or baggage can easily cause handling problems and quite possibly send you and it into the ditch at the side of the road.

Riding with too much baggage is no fun, even if you do manage to not crash. The balance of the bike is off, handling can be sluggish and aerodynamics can be all out of whack. Just when you think your baggage is stable and you have a grip on the handlebars as you buzz down the highway, that thirty pound bag of stuff strapped to the rear fender bounces loose, falls over and starts rubbing on the tire.

In short, excessive baggage can kill.

And, how does a passenger ride with all that baggage? Hop on top, grab a bungee and ride along? That is certainly not the safe way to go. Any operator who would allow this is quite remiss in his or her responsibilities.

Ride safe, ride happy and ride light.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Flowers and Memory

Three things and that's my limit. When I go to a grocery store, that's the number of things I can remember without having to write a little list. That's it. More than three and I run the chance of forgetting something.

It is interesting the things I can remember easily and those I can't. Birthdays? Holidays? Events? Forget it! Even if they are written down, my poor little brain has a difficult time remembering them. Heck, I can't even remember to look them up after writing them!

However, there are some things that I remember rather easily. Not sure why; I guess my brain is just wired that way.

I remember flowers.

My friend in LA likes sweet peas.

My friend in Louisiana likes columbines.

My friend in North Carolina likes daises.

My mom likes violets.

My grandmother likes roses.

A woman at work simply adores birds of paradise.

A fellow I used to know in Colorado was a HUGE orchid aficionado.

Me? Orchids and sunflowers.

I find it interesting that simply by looking at an orchid, I can generally determine the species. It doesn't matter if it is flowering or not. I can simply tell. The orchid; how strong yet fragile. How varying yet similar.

And sunflowers; how noble in stature. How strong and varied. Sunflowers blooms are really rather complex. Each large sunflower bloom is actually hundreds of small blooms. They feed birds and bees and other wildlife. They provide oil and a great snack food for us human folk.

Now that I have stated my favorites, I must admit that I love all flowers; Geraniums or tulips or cherry blossoms or daffodils or iris.

Such function and beauty. The procreatory device for nearly every plant on the earth can be so varied yet related to all others through function. So soft and supple and complex.

Very few other things can touch skin so lightly yet have such a large effect.

Yes. I remember flowers.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Motorcycle Maintenance

Motorcycle maintenance is far more than checking the oil once a month and maybe looking at the tires once they start squealing. Polishing a fender or cleaning a rim is a portal to concepts of mortality.

Operating and maintaining a motorcycle is much more like an airplane than a car or truck. Car or truck drivers seldom think of their oil or coolant levels. Infrequently the tires are checked for wear and typically lights are ignored until a police officer issues a ticket.

With a motorcycle, as with an airplane, it is different. Low oil can cause a motor to seize up, in a matter of moments. Tires with insufficient air pressure or excessive wear can be a catastrophe waiting to happen. Lights are SO important. A single missing tail light on many motorcycles, means they are virtually invisible at night.

On vehicles such as these, the little things are vitally, if not mortally important. A loose brake caliper can mean near instant death to a motorcyclist. To a pilot, a broken brake caliper can throw the plane into a ground loop or even cause the entire landing gear to separate from the craft at touchdown or take-off.

Preparing to take a bike out on a ride is much more than turning the key and hopping on. It is like a plane's preflight check. Turning signals; lights; front brake; rear brake; throttle; clutch; tires; oil; brake fluid; gas; chain; and constantly checking for loose items. If any of these are not operating correctly or within tolerance, they can easily be the direct or indirect cause of death.
Polishing the fenders and forks and suspension and gas tank provides ample time to think of these things.

I have never been one to buy things because they are “new and shiny.” I typically prefer function over form when it comes to my vehicles. This is an interesting case.

The bike's sharpness, the shiny suppleness of the rubber hoses and cables and fenders, are simply not for show. They are functional. Part of a bike's purpose is to draw attention. This is not for some self aggrandizing reason; simply an important purpose. Shiny and bright -equals- more noticeable and less likely a car driver will fail to see it.

I can't help but think of these things as I carefully ensure the hoses are clean and check for loose bolts and connectors and cables. And while thinking of physical mortality for a while; I think of emotional mortality and of my friends who were shiny and brilliant and caring and protected my emotional mortality.

The next time you see a red motorcycle being ridden by a guy with long hair, please pause. If you are my friend, and it is I on that bike, be prepared for a hug or twelve. Life is too short for one to not show a friend their thanks and appreciation.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Solitary Life

Solitude vivifies; isolation kills.
Joseph Roux

I yearn for the road less traveled and a comfortable ride; the clink of a tequila bottle on a wine glass; the laughter of a good friend; the view of an open field of wildflowers on an April morning; the salty intermingling of tears and spindrift while looking out to the ocean's horizon; the palpable quiet of a snowfall in a Midwestern wood; the crackling of a fireplace; the scent of coffee and a woman's hair first thing in the morning; the intimate tranquility of two people quietly walking down a peaceful country road, hand in hand.

Living alone is not necessarily a function of a solitary life. Being comfortable within oneself is outright necessary.

The road beckons for my embrace. Near infinite miles and combination of paths echo their siren song to my soul. There await friends and experiences and places and family and solitude beyond my meager estimation. Beyond the mountainous prison gates of this place.

Left or right, high or low shall be my choosing. Concrete or asphalt, gravel or dirt; these shall be my choices for I am the pilot of this two wheeled machine and of my life.

Endless fields of flowers before me. Sweet pea and daisy and sunflower and columbine and lily perfume my universe and indelibly place their gentile marks on my soul. Fragrant memories dance on the periphery of my consciousness as I follow my path.

Indefinite ways and intersections lace my future into a patchwork quilt, finally converging into a single point over the horizon in a direction I know not. I shall know it only once I arrive.

Sunday, November 11, 2007


Long hair, as dark as a warm humid night, draped down over her firm bare breasts, barely perceptible in the midnight summer moon. The scent of sweet skin and green grass blend with the opus of a whispering Midwestern night. We embrace. Skin touching skin. Bodies intertwined in the enveloping darkness.

We kiss. We hold each other. We caress. The ethereal touch of the moon's light and a brief cool breeze yearn to become one with the young lovers. Nighthawks flit overhead while the owls stand their nocturnal watch. The gentile cooing of the rain doves foretell an oncoming summer storm.

Our bodies wrapped in a blanket of heated passion, merge with the rising wind. Clouds build to the west as thunder echoes in the distance, vibrating the ground with a primal energy. Leaves rustle and the woods come to life, awakened by flashes of nearby lightning. Simultaneous crashes of electrical energy introduce the clearing to a much needed gentile quenching rain.

Quickly recovering our damp clothing, blanket and empty bottle of wine, we quickly make our way out of the clearing to the protection of a nearby abandoned farm building. Without a word, we stand in the barn door's ample threshold quietly kissing, rain and sweat mingling. The scent of passion and hay and the woods and rain press against our souls, making their tender but permanent marks in our memories.


Whew. That has been rolling around in my brain for a few weeks now. Sometimes ideas just do that; roll around in there and just push and prod to be released. This was definitely one of them.

While this is for the most part fiction, it is based on a real event. There was no clearing or woods or bottle of wine. The altered details and extrapolations not withstanding, this is an event I will probably never forget.

And I wonder about it. Will I ever experience this sort of passion again? Will I ever kiss a woman in the rain or maybe a lightly falling snow? Is young love or passion relegated only to the young?

And I further wonder, for me, does it matter?

Thursday, November 08, 2007


It is Snowing!!!

Well, not here in Vegas but in the upper midwest; Michigan, Wisconsin and a little in New York, Indiana and Maine. Some people have opined that I must be slightly masochistic. I love snow. I love winter. I love the shoveling and blowing. I love to see the snowplows on the road. I love to go for walks, feeling its unique crunch under my feet. I love to hear the absolutely tangible nothing as it gently falls in a field or woods. And I love the contradictory, melancholy beauty of a barren landscape after the snow has melted.

The snow and cold are like some primeval energy source. Walking out in the chilled, snowy winter air, to me, is like connecting my soul to a battery charger.

Ah, the memories... Memories of walking out to feed the cattle and hogs and chicken in a moon-filled early winter morning. Fresh virgin snow, never touched by a human, yielding yet supporting me. Unforgiving to stupidity or inattention yet that gentle white blanket protecting the earth from the killing cold of winter.

Sitting for hours next to a stream carrying a babbling flow of freshly liberated water from a winter's collection of snow. It's seasonal job now complete, it transforms to liquid beauty and tumbles away without complaint to its next job. The stream, performing it's duty with nary a whimper or whine, decade after decade. As its liquid passenger, it does not tire of its duty; it simply transforms.

Kissing in the falling snow is, for me, a sublime experience. Lips pressed together, passion melting the tiny snowflakes even before touching skin.

Watching a gentle day-long snowfall in solitude, feet propped up next to a blazing fireplace, good book in one hand and cup of coffee in the other. In my life, there are few other things that rival a day spent like that.

I was born a Midwestern farmer and lover of nature, and I shall remain one in my heart and soul until the day I die.

Monday, November 05, 2007


You can only miss something, if you know what that something is.

As a child I never missed quite a number of modern day conveniences. I never missed color television; cell phones; central heating or air conditioning; being able to run out for something at the local 24 hour store; reliable utilities; and... well... inside toilet facilities.

I certainly knew they existed; they simply were not part of my daily childhood life.

Am I missing something? It certainly feels similar to missing something. But, I am not sure what it is. One must know what is missing to miss something. So, what am I missing?

One that misses an unknown is a seeker. At least a seeker should know a rough direction to travel. I haven't a clue. The fog of the unknown embraces me in its lifeless arms.

So, there is some empty place somewhere in there. Somewhat like the lingering vibrations of a long forgotten favorite song. The tune is gone and all that is left is a shadow of a vibration. There was something there, once, I simply have no clue what it was. The void is at time seemingly tangible. A physical and mental weight of nothingness.

A forgotten song? A book I read?

Solitude, I think, may be part of my path. I need time for quiet reflection. Please though, if you have my phone number, do not hesitate to call, or e-mail, or PM, or IM me. There is something more specific in my mind. Perhaps a trip.

I have in my garage a small motorcycle. At work I have more than three weeks worth of vacation. Perhaps, once my life starts to settle down, and I get a few hundred miles under my belt, I will go for a little ride. Nothing but a few day's worth of clothes, a little cash, few books, map and an emergency-only cell phone.

Three weeks on the road. It may not make clear what I am missing. It may not help me figure out what I am seeking. Minimally, it will clear away a bit of that fog.

Friday, November 02, 2007

Expect weirdness... I am going to attempt an upgrade to the newer blogger interface.