Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Christmas Remembered

As the year draws to a close and the holidays are near, I am often reminded of memories of Christmases past.  Like most children, Christmas for me was a magical time.  In our family Santa always decorated our tree, as a result the first time we saw the tree was on Christmas morning.  On Christmas eve we children would sit around and put hooks on all the ornaments and check all the lights to make things easier for Santa, after all, he had a lot of ground to cover.

I think my earliest memory of Christmas morning is waking up before everyone else, I was maybe 4 years old, going into the livingroom which had been transformed into a magical Christmas wonderland.  One of the thing that I think made our tree so special was the use of Angel Hair.  If you're not familiar with Angel Hair, it is a form of spun glass that is stretched over the tree giving the lights a very magical glow.  That first vision of the tree, surrounded by presents made an amazing impression on me as a young child.

Christmas was also one of the very few times that we were able to gather with my mother's family.  A rift in the famly caused by my father made this impossible at other times.  However, Christmas eve was always the exception.  My mother would pack us into the car and we would drive the few miles to my aunt and uncle's house, where my mother's parents, siblings and their children would gather for the evening to catch up and exchange gifts for the children.  Odd that although we all lived within 5 miles of each other, except for Aunt Mally and Uncle Sep, we were virtually strangers to each other.

I remember the year I wanted white go-go boots (American Band Stand). I was so thrilled with them that I wore them everywhere.  Also, the year I got my first Barbie, a red head with a beehive type hair style with the latest modification, bendable legs.  My mother also spent many nights up late making tiny outfits for both my Barbie and my sister's.  So she had to make two of everything, business suits, party dresses, hats, etc.  My sister still has many of these in her attic.

Then there was the year my father came home with the latest and greatest  in Christmas trees.  It was silver aluminium with plain round ornaments and a color wheel.  Back then it was all the rage, that must have been 1967.  Unfortunately, during Hurricane Camille a tornado took the roof off our attic as well as the silver tree, strewing the branches far and wide.  For months afterward people were bringing us silver branches of our tree.

As my sister and I moved into our teenage years, we often got "shared" Christmas gifts due to financial constraints.  One year we got a little green record player.  My first album was Elton John, Don't Shoot Me, I'm Only the Piano Player".  Along with the record player came several funky Christmas albums with funny and uncommon songs.

My mother always made us Christmas outfits, although I sadly must confess that I can't remember a single one.  I remember some of our Easter outfits but when it comes to Christmas I am totally blank.

In March 1979 my mother passed away after a long battle with breast cancer.  Even today, I miss her like it was yesterday.  She was the bravest, most selfless person I have ever known, my older sister is a great deal like her. It saddens me that she never had the opportunity to know her grandchildren.  It is usually this time of year that I miss her the most because of all that she did to make Christmas special for us, including spending the days before Christmas at church decorating for Midnight Mass.

Thanks for all you did Momma, I miss you.

Posted via web from BJ's posterous

Saturday, October 31, 2009

A wonderful ride and great group of people

Wow, I didn't realize it had been so long since I had updated my blog. Today Deb & I rode down to Florence to attend our first Motor Maids meeting. It was a pretty chilly when we left home but by the time we headed home it was a tad warm.

The ride was uneventful and we arrived in Florence early. So we decided to stop at the local Circle K, get something to drink and pass a little time before our scheduled lunch. We finished up our drinks and went to gas up so we wouldn't have to do it afterwards. In the process of putting my key in the ignition, it jumped right out of my hand and down into the engine of my bike. Wouldn't you know it? Out in the middle of nowhere, well, not really nowhere but Florence is a very small town.

I can't see the key anywhere. Deb ran down the street to the NAPA to get a telescoping magnet thing but that didn't work. I ended up having to loosen the cover over the clutch to get it out. In the end it was a good thing we got there so early, by the time we got my key out and to the lunch we were only about 10 minutes late.

The women there were an interesting group, several from Tucson, a pair from the Grand Canyon area, another pair from Mesa and Deb & I. One of the women there has been a member of Motor Maids for over 50 years. Listening to their stories was a real treat.

Anyway, we had a great time and a great ride.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Weekend Ride & Party

We left Saturday morning around 7:00 AM to meet Chelli for a "day ride" to Sierra Vista, to help Jackie unload, then Tombstone for lunch, then home. A bit much for a "day ride" we really should have planned better and anticipated needing to spend the night someplace. South of Tucson we got a bit chilly then when we got close to Sierra and it started to rain. We didn't get to Sierra Vista until after 1:00 and spent a great deal of time at Golden Corral eating and getting warm. We helped unload Jackie's trailer by then it was too late to head to Tombstone, not to mention we were still wet and cold. The fine rain continued to fall.

Chelli elected to leave her bike because she and Drew didn't have rain gear and ride home in the car. Deb & I headed back toward home but ended up staying the night in Tucson. Because it was a "day trip" Deb & I didn't bring our cpap machines, but we a room any way. I took some benadryl and we took turns telling each other to roll over. This morning we got up to a beautiful sunny morning with temps in the 70's, got a little breakfast and headed home. This trip was the opposite of the one down, where we ran into a huge dust storms.

It was great to get the new bike out for her maiden voyage, we did 300 miles on Saturday and another 139 on Sunday for a total of 439.2 miles.

Got home around 1:00 PM, had three hours before the boy's birthday party at Chuck E. Cheese. The party was a huge success all the way around. Thanks to everyone who joined us and help celebrate. It was also a great opportunity for us to meet some of Amanda's friends we had been hearing about for months. After a couple of hours of intense sound, stimulation and play time the family finally headed towards home...exhausted...and looking forward to enjoying some peace and quiet.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Hard Headed Me Does Something New

I've always been pretty hard headed and motorcycling has not been any different. I've always ridden standard bikes, upright seating, lots of plastic and very little chrome. The seating position kept my feet under me and my arms close to my sides. Sitting on a cruiser always with my feet out in front of me and my arms spread apart always made me feel out of control.

Standard motorcycles can be great around town and for short trips. Unfortunately, unless you go up to a large sport touring bike, they aren't very comfortable on long trips. Knowing I didn't want a large top heavy touring bike, I started looking at ways to make my Bonneville more comfortable for the touring we are planning in the next year or so. For years, my friends and partner had been saying "you need to try a cruiser". But noooooooo..........

After our return from Durango a couple weeks ago, Deb again suggested a cruiser as being more comfortable. This time, I must have been more more receptive to the idea because I started looking at them and sitting on them and ..... hey, this wasn't so bad after all. It's different but just a matter of getting use to it.... maybe. In my head I could feel the shift as I started to consider this as a real possibility.

We were planning to visit a local dealership where I could ride a couple of bikes I had seen online. But before we took the bikes anywhere they really needed to be washed since they still bore the road grime from our trip to Keystone. I was home early so I decided to go out and get things started. In order to do that I had to move Debbie's Mean Streak first. In the past I had been intimidated by the bike and had never moved it. There's a first time for everything, so I threw my leg over the seat, stood her up and cautiously started to back her out of the garage. Whoa.....this is much easier than I thought.....easier than the Bonnie even. I think it was in that moment that I knew the wind of change was truly blowing.

Saturday we head over to the dealership where I had identified a couple of 1100 cruisers to try out. They were having an grand opening celebration and when we got there the bikes I had in mind were all gone. The sales guy shows me a VTX 750, really sweet already decked out with bags, shield and stuff but I didn't want to go down in size. The other option was a 2007 VTX 1300, a real beauty, bigger than I wanted but I decided to give it a try. I was a little anxious about the size but I knew that if it felt too wrong, I would know immediately and I would just make a quick turn around and bring it back. I wasn't quite ready for the "yeah....yeah" feeling of knowing it was right. I took the bike down the street a few miles, pulled into a parking lot to turn around and headed back to the dealership.

Debbie did exactly what she was supposed to do, by making sure that I wasn't acting in haste and that the I really felt comfortable and good about the bike. That's one of the reasons I love her, she always looks out for me. When it was all said and done, we said farewell to the Bonnie and hello VTX.
I can't wait to start putting miles on her. The different riding position is going to take some getting used to so, I'll be taking it easy for a while. We will be getting to know each other, learning each other, becoming a team.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Bring Back My Bonnie To Me

So, my Bonneville, which broke down in Cortez, CO on the way home from the AMA conference in Keystone, CO, was finally repaired and ready to come home. Last night Deb & I drove up to Cortez, spent the night at our favorite Super 8, then got up early this morning to pick up my bike at Handlebars in Durango.

We were there almost before they opened the doors. The folks there were really nice and very helpful. We even looked at highway pegs, unfortunately there weren't any available to fit my bike. The woman who works there was very friendly and said she was interested in learning how to ride but wasn't quite ready. We chatted about the taking the MSF course, first bikes, Woman Rider Now and it's section for new and potential riders. I ended up giving her my email address and offering to forward information.

It was a bit chilly as we headed back toward Cortez on our way home. As I got my wheels under me and a few miles down the road, I was feeling better and better. We took a brief bio and check in break in Cortez. Then off we went, it was a great ride. We turned off towards Kayente and Four Corners. Earlier we had discussed stopping at the Four Corners monument since we were right there. For some reason, it wasn't what I expected, for some reason I thought it would be somewhere in a city, or something like that. Instead, it was in a little cul de sac surrounded by dozens of native american booths, most of which were vacant since the tourist season is pretty much over. Of course, the low number of people visiting the monument worked in our favor. We cruised a few booths, took some pictures and were back on the road again.

It is often said that on the reservation, speed limits are strictly enforced but I've never seen too many on the road and those I have seen were usually occupied by other things, accidents, road construction, etc. Well, I'm feeling really good on my bike, enjoying the ride when I looked in my mirror and saw one of the reservation officers come flying around Deb with his lights flashing. Now I know that I am going about 20 mph over the posted limit, so I am mumbling a few choice words, expecting the officer to pull in behind me and signal me to pull over. Obviously he had more important fish to fry because he went flying past me too. Several miles down the road was a terrible accident that appeared to be a small sports car which had rolled over.

When we arrived in Kayente we had lunch and I asked Deb to spell me a bit and ride to the next gas stop in Tuba City. On the road again for another 70 miles or so. When we got to the first gas station in Tuba City Deb pulled in and exclaimed "I have got to get off this bike." It seems that the Bonneville just doesn't fit her well and the seat, well, the seat is less than comfy. We had already planned to stay the night in Tuba City and head home in the morning, neither of us got much sleep the night before and were exhausted.

Word to the wise, if you stop in Tuba City, be safe and eat at Burger King, McDonalds or Taco Bell. The place we ate dinner was not the best in the world. I was tired of sandwiches so I ordered meatloaf, but they were out of that, so then I went for the lasagna. I swear, I have never seen, much less been served a loaf of lasagna. If it wouldn't have made a scene, I would have taken a picture. Unfortunately, it didn't taste any better than it looked.

We also took a brief drive around Tuba City. The economy here is so bad, many of the houses are boarded up and those that aren't barely look fit for human occupants. I swear, I don't know how these people survive.

Tomorrow it will be on towards home.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Free Water, but is it needed?

Each morning on my way to work I pass a nice middle class public high school. Since school started this week there's been a great deal of activity around the school which is located at a major intersection. This morning on two of the corners of the intersection there was a group of teenage boys wearing fluorescent green shirts which said "Free Water" on the front and the name of their christian academy on the back.

It actually took me a minute to realize that these boys were actually handing out bottles of water to the students going into this school with air conditioning and water fountains, at the very least. Now, I respect that these students from the christian school felt they were doing service work, however, wouldn't it make more sense and have a bigger impact if they were giving away water downtown where the homeless people could really use it? A bottle of water isn't going to save a teen walking into an air conditioned school where there are water fountains and possibly soda machines. On the other hand, a homeless person on the streets of downtown Phoenix might just have their life saved by someone handing them a bottle of water.

I have to wonder, what exactly is this christian academy teaching their student? It's OK to do pseudo service work, just don't get your hands dirty? It's much safer to give water to these middle class kids down the street, those bums downtown might contaminate them. Hmmmm.... Jesus didn't hang out with the middle class, he surrounded himself with all the undesirables and ministered to them.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Responding to Online Classified Ads

Online classified ads are one of those things that have made it possible to buy and sell almost anything to or from almost anyone anywhere. Ah, the wonders of technology. More often than not, things go fine - seller posts ad, potential buyer contacts seller, seller responds and buyer either buys or advises the seller that they are no longer interested.

Sometimes, things don't quite go that way. You respond to an ad for something and you wait..... and you wait..... and you wait. The seller doesn't respond for several days. Now maybe they are out of town, sick, or have some other reasonable excuse for not responding to my email which is absolutely more important than anything else they could be doing right now. Seriously, I know I have a bit of an instant gratification issue. However, how long is reasonably long enough?

Maybe it's because I have recently responded to four different online ads from 3 different online sources several days ago. Not one of those people has responded. How long would it take to a) remove the ad if the item is sold, b) mark the item sold or c) hit "reply" and type SOLD? It's all about closure, I need closure people. Wouldn't it be common courtesy to respond? You know their mamma's taught them better.

Impatiently yours,

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Female Urination Devices

So, last night on the 10 o'clock news they had a piece on this product www.go-girl.com. One of the comments in the piece was that other countries have been using FUDs for years. As a result, I decided to poke around a bit.

Of course there is the www.freshette.com which has been around for a while, now there is also the P-mate www.p-standingup.com, My Sweet-P www.mysweetpee.com, SheWee www.shewee.com, Urifemme www.urinationfunnel.com and several more. Who knew?

With so many to choose from, how is a girl to know which is the best? I wonder if Consumer Reports has considered doing a report on these. After all, wouldn't it be helpful to know which one is easiest to use, sturdier, less likely to leak, etc?

I can see where these would come in handy during camping or road trips, even at the doctor's office when you are kindly requested to pee in a cup. Maybe I'll have to try one of these before my next motorcycle trip. For the most part, our bio-breaks resulted in reasonably clean restrooms but a couple were, well, in sore need of cleaning.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

What to wear to the Grand Canyon in August?

The answer seems quite obvious to most people, the coolest thing possible, like maybe shorts. That's what I would wear, I'm betting that's what 80% of the people visiting the Grand Canyon in August wore. But wait! If you happen to be Michelle Obama, mother of two, on vacation with her children and husband, who just happens to be the President of the US, it seems that shorts are a huge faux pas.

I guess since I was traveling, I missed this HUGE event of national importance, the First Lady wore shorts in Arizona in August. God forbid! Not only that but some people think her shorts were too short! Really now, isn't that pretty petty?

When visiting the Grand Canyon in August, or anyplace in Arizona in August, most people are going to wear shorts. Face it, the days of women being covered neck to ankles is long behind us, even for the First Lady. Wear what you want, Michelle, you are the first First Lady who actually acts and dresses like someone the average Jane might run into at the PTA.

Those of you who have a problem with Michelle's shorts, get over it.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Back to Normal Life

After the trip to Keystone, broken down bike and going back to work with no down time, I finally feel like my life is returning to normal. Last night I slept like a log and was able to sleep until I work up naturally, well until the baby woke me up, which was still later than normal, so that's a plus.

I spent a large part of the afternoon in the pool with Ian. Mostly it was just he and I but Amanda was there off and on too. We had a great time, playing in the pool and tossing water balls back and forth. He is such a doll and a joy in my life.

My bike is in Durango until further notice, probably about 2 weeks. I really miss having her here. Even though it is ungodly hot here and riding during the day is pretty much out of the question, not having my bonnie in the garage is a real bummer. Instead she is sitting in a strange shop, road weary and dirty waiting to have her electrical system repaired. Looking at the pictures everyone has posted and the videos, wants to make me go back and do it all over again.

Anyway, one thing this trip did was to make me realize how badly I need to get into shape and lose some weight. So this evening I joined a gym. Hopefully in a few weeks the results will begin to show.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Back to Work

Made it home Tuesday evening and back to work on Wednesday. (Note to self: always include a recovery day before returning to work.)

Talked to the bike shop yesterday, the culprit is a bad voltage regulator which then fried the battery. Parts need to be ordered from NM, probably going to cost $500 - $600 repair, not including the towing ($70) and rental car to get home ($175). Probably two weeks before I can go get the baby and bring her home.

When it is all said and done, it could have been worse, no physical damage to the bike or me.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Finally Home

Monday we were unable to find an open shop or one that would take work on a Triumph. MoTow called 13 different places. Deciding there was nothing we could do before Tuesday, Chelli & Jo headed for home and Scuter, Deb and I went to look for a snake pit that had closed, stopped at a really cool trading post where the owner also tried to help us find a bike shop. That didn't work so we did shopping therapy.

We were going to go up to Mesa Verde but the rain, loose gravel and sign saying "motorcycles use extreme caution" changed our minds. Instead we ended up going to the local movie theater to see "Inglorious Basterds" an interesting, if bloody and nonfactual movie and dinner.

Tuesday morning we found someone to take the bike and had the tow truck come and get the bike. Then to the Cortez, CO airport to get a rental car. Finally home home around 8 PM last night.

For what it is worth, if you happen to end up on Cortez needing a hotel, check out the Super 8. it may not be the swankiest but the staff was also helpful with late checkouts, discounted rates and other suggestions.

All in all it was a great trip even if we did have to leave my baby behind in Durango.

Well, now it is time to hit the shower, get dressed, return the rental and head to the office.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Trip Home Day 1 (aka I should have stayed in bed)

Some days you should just stay in bed and today started and ended that way. First off, yesterday Deb & I changed rooms at the hotel to share a room with Scuter after her other room mates left. Knowing that we were going to leave early we tried to get everything packed up before going to bed. That is when I realized that I couldn't find the ROK straps for my bag. I figured they had been left in the old room so I checked with the front desk to see if they had been turned in by housekeeping. They said that housekeeping wouldn't be in until 8 AM and they would check with them then.

This morning when I started packing, I couldn't find my new camera. Again I checked with the front desk and discovered that housekeeping had not come in yet. While we waited for breakfast in the hotel restaurant, which while decent was slow as Christmas, they did find out that housekeeping had found my camera, straps and a few other things. Yay!

We did almost 300 miles and took Highway 550 (aka OMG Highway). Amazing views and hair raising hairpin turns. Got cold going up to about 11,000 feet, then it rained, so we were cold and wet. Really an amazing trip but also very technically challenging.

By the time we hit Durango it was starting to get dark but our reservations were in Cortez so we pushed on another 50 or so miles. Chelli and Scuter had hauled butt because of a problem with her headlight, Jo followed them and we were bringing up the rear because we can't see well at night and were going a little slower. About 10 miles outside if Cortez my bike started surging periodically. Then it started bucking and jerking and spitting like it was running out of gas, but we had just filled up. After several stops along the side of the dark highway. we finally made it to Cortez. Scuter & Jo came to the gas station where we stopped so that they could cover me from traffic as I bucked and popped down the road.

Tomorrow we'll call MoTow.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

AMA Conference Day 2

Yesterday was registration after a ride of about 200 miles of interstate that is just too beautiful to be an interstate highway. I-70 through Colorado is amazing. After registering we were starving but the only thing we could get was pizza by the slice at a little place in the basement of a building called Pizza 101 and seats 3. Guess it was a good thing it was only Scuter, Deb & I at that point. I will say that it was darn good pizza.

We found Susan, a little later we found Kim and Rose who had been storm chasing across the Midwest. Allison and Lori pulled in after arriving in Denver and picking up their rentals. We gathered for a dinner ride into Dillon. Laughed a lot and gabbed about times old and new. Leaving was a bit of confusion. When you're in a group of riders all going the same direction but different places, at night they all kinda look alike. I thought Deb was behind me, she thought I was behind her and with so many motorcycles in the dark we lost each other. So we both stopped at different gas stations. By the time I got back to the hotel Deb had already been there and when I didn't pull in a few minutes behind her, thought I might have gotten lost and went back to look for me. Finally ended up at the same place at the same time and found places to park the bikes.

This morning we went over to the vendor area and to the seminar on making your bike fit you. One of the speakers was Athena, owner of vagabond motors. Great ideas on modifying bikes from one of the top female custom bike builders in the country.

Browsing the vendor area I ran into Peg from Boston. Just a couple of weeks ago I found out that Peg had made several trips to Waveland MS, my home town to help after Katrina. So we chatted about that and our mutual friend Woody who recently passed away. Later that afternoon I found other Violators, Marjorie, Darryl, Amy, Loocie, Sue, and Gin. It was like a family reunion.

This evening there was a barn dance at the stables where we were served bbq, beans, corn on the cob and cornbread. The band was pretty decent. Several of us, myself included tried out hand at roping hay bale steers, others tried tossing horse shoes. It was a lot of fun.

Back in the room, a bit sunburned, content and all is right with the world.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Day 4 - Green River, UT to Glenwood CO

Today was a bit different that the previous ones. Chelli wanted to go back to Goblin Valley, Jo and Scuter decided to go with her. Deb & I were having a road weary day and decided to skip the extra 100 or so miles and go on to Glenwood.

I have to say that although we did nearly 200 miles on I-70 almost every miles was breath taking. We road along the Colorado River for many miles, through the mountains, saw a couple of eagles and a prairie dog standing on the edge of the road waiting to dash across. We also saw lots of bikes on the road, most heading west, so I'm not sure where they were heading. Last night at dinner we did meet a couple of women from CA heading towards the conference and saw a few women riders heading west.

When we got to Glenwood, Deb & I checked into the hotel and awaited the arrival of the rest of the crew. After Goblin Valley, Chelli elected to go a more scenic route and Scuter & Jo hit the highway. They arrived in Glenwood about 2 hours after we did. Chelli hasn't made it in yet and it is nearly 9:00 PM local time. So we expect her to pull in any time now. Guess we had had enough "together time" and needed a little break from each other for the day.

Tomorrow it is into Keystone for the start of the conference. We are only about 150 miles out so it will be an easy ride. All of us are excited and looking forward to seeing other people from the DOB list as well as other long distance friends. Personally, I'm looking forward to seeing some of my sisters from Moving Violations. Also looking forward to all the motorcycle and accessory eye candy.

There is something intensely spiritual about traveling this beautiful country by motorcycle. The power which created this world has truly blessed us all.

Well, guess that's it for today. Tomorrow is going to be a really exciting day, registering at the conference and meet & greet. I can't wait.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Day 3 Bryce Canyon to Green River

We had an awesome ride today through Escalante UT, twisties and breathtaking scenery. Awesome rock formations and mountains, at one point we were on a two lane road with canyons on both sides.

Chelli really did a great job mapping this route out for us. The scenery has been so beautiful, there were petroglyphs at one stop, beautiful overlooks and some wild life that thought about dashing in front. Scuter and Jo did a lot of fast runs up the hills then would pull off to the side waiting for us to catch up.

We had a great time, no major incidents other than a bee getting in my buff and stinging me 2-3 times. Thankfully there was a pull out right there.

Great day, great ride.

Pictures later, I'm too tired tonight.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Day 2 - Page to Bryce Canyon

Our day started out with breakfast at Denny's, back to the hotel to pack and off we go. We headed across the dam and had a nice winding road toward Bryce Canyon. No mishaps, no craziness except for the dumbass who tried to pass us all and damn near took out Deb because he couldn't make it all the way passed us. Then a bus tried to take out Jo & Scutie because he didn't know what he needed to turn right although he was signaling left.

We had an awesome ride to the top of the canyon and a great dinner at the restaurant here. We're staying in the Best Western that has the best customer service ever. We're all exhausted and settling in for the night.

More pictures from Day 1 Just outside of Page

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Scenic overlook south of Page

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Day 1 Phoenix to Page AZ

We were up bright and early to meet everyone at the IHOP only Chelli was 15 minutes late, Scuter and Jo were at Waffle House and Deb & I were 30 minutes late. Oh well. The idea was to beat the heat getting out of the valley and we were well on our way to doing that when we got into stop and go traffic. It seems a truck jack knifed at Carefree Hwy. Ugh... So, we did a little lane splitting to get out of the traffic. Necessary evil and I hope I never have to do that much of it again.

We got off to get gas and in leaving there, it was U turn number 1 when we turned right instead of left. Up 17 we continue to Flagstaff where we should go EAST on I-40. Well, Chelli and Jo when East, Scuter Deb and I went west. Stopped for gas, got text from Chelli telling us where they were and off we go. Except....Scuter took us West on 40 again. We get off and the next exit and U turn number 2.

Chelli and Jo wait for us at the Connoco on 89 and we get all broken up looking for a Subway. Never mind that Wendy's was right in front of us. Finally we all end up at Subway and cool off and eat. An older biker dude asked if we were heading north, we said yes, he said to be careful and give each other plenty of room because the wind and dust was some of the worst he had seen. Let me tell you, he wasn't lying. There is something very odd about leaning left in a right curve to keep your bike upright and in your lane. We had about 60 miles of that.

Finally, we make it to Page. Get a couple rooms and when Jo, Chelli and Scuter decide to go out for dinner we opt to stay in. We got almost no sleep last night because our AC went out and we're exhausted. Jo was kind enough to offer to bring dinner back for us.

After Jo leaves, a little while later I look out the window and they are still outside. This can't be good, they are on the ground looking under Chelli's bike. Her ignition fell apart. We went down to lend moral support. Of course it is 10 minutes to 5 and we had no luck getting a bike shop that was open. However Chelli fixed it right up. We are now disaster proofed for the trip.

Guess that is about it.

Friday, August 14, 2009

It's Vacation Eve

Well, everything is ready, the bikes are loaded except for the last minute things. Tomorrow we are up early to meet the rest of the gang at IHOP for breakfast at 6:30 AM so we can get out of the valley before it gets too ungodly hot.

As if we didn't have enough going on, the AC went out today also. We actually got someone out here but they need a part so they will be back in the morning to fix it. Thankfully Amanda will be here so we don't need to delay our departure.

Keystone here we come.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

48 hours and we're on the road

Final preparations are in process for departure on Saturday morning. Last evening I spent time at the local nail salon getting a pedicure and nails done in a nice chrome and blue to match my bike.

Tonight the packing will start in earnest, laundry will be done and trial packing.

Keystone here we come.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Preparing for the ride to the AMA Women and Motorcycling Conference

We've been planning for months to make the trip to Keystone, CO for the AMA Women & Motorcycling Conference. This will be the 4th one that I have attended, the first in Ohio, Buckhannon VA in 2002 and 2006 Athens, GA. This will be the shortest trip in miles but we are taking several days to meander up there.

Saturday morning early five of us will be leaving Phoenix, hoping to get out of the Valley of the Sun before the temperature gets unbearable. I'm going to do my best to blog something about our trip every day.

Until Saturday I'll be spending my time trying to get ahead of the game at work during the day and in the evening getting all my gear gathered and packed so we can leave quickly and easily on Saturday.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Health Care....Or Not

Recently I overheard someone remark that the idea of the government forcing people to have health care made them so mad it made them want to cancel their company subsedized health care plan. It seems this person didn't like the government telling them that they HAD to have health insurance.

Of course, my first thought was to tell them to march right down to HR and drop their coverage. It's amazing to me how easily people who have always had good coverage from their employer take that for granted. They don't want the government telling them they "have to" do what they are already doing. It makes me wonder, have this people ever been without health care? Do they know what it's like to have a medical condition and being unable to go to the doctor because you can't afford the office visit much less any medication or treatment required?

According to an article by ABC in October 2007, the overall cost for treatment of a typical breast cancer can top $50,000 or even $100,000. Imagine facing that when you don't have medical coverage. Also, according to the same report, one in five cancer patients WITH insurance will use up most if not all of their savings during the course of the treatment.

This doesn't even touch on the topic of perscription drug costs. A few years ago when I underwent a 6 month course of chemo for a non-cancerous disease, the retail cost for the drugs I took were > $600 month for a daily medication and > $1500 per month for a weekly self administered injection. Those were the self pay costs. Fortunately, I had prescription drug coverage. So for the daily medication I paid $300 for 3 months supply, the injection copay was $300 per month. Total cost to me $2400 over a 6 month period. As a single mother making $16/hr, you know I had that much cash laying around - NOT. I financed the treatment via credit cards with an ungodly interest rate.

For those who believe that we do not need some sort of health care plan that requires coverage for everyone, I challenge you to cancel your own and your family's health care plan for one year and pray that none of you have any serious illnesses during that time. If at the end of that year you still believe that mandatory health care is not a necessity for American, so be it. However, I believe you will change your mind long before the year is over.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Who is afraid of evangelism?

While sitting in church this morning, one of the points made during the sermon is that members of our denomination are afraid to invite people to church. Members of the United Church of Christ, tend to be liberal and progressive individuals. We are the type of people who are among the first to protest civil rights be it racial rights, health care for the poor, immigration situations, LGBT concerns and dozens of other issues. Fearlessly we stand for the welfare and rights of those who cannot stand for themselves. Yet, we hesitate to put ourselves out there for our own church.

Why, I wonder, is this so? Maybe because many of us came came to UCC through the side door. Perhaps over the years we lost our faith and began to explore church as a path to something we knew we needed but weren't sure what that something might be. Or maybe after hearing some of the atrocities performed in the name of religion we have a bad taste in our mouth for "organized religion" and going to church seems an oxymoron. Maybe after being hounded by others to be "born again" we are a bit embarrassed to be going into church. Or maybe, after being told by others that we aren't good enough and don't deserve the love of God, we are afraid to be caught slipping in where we don't belong.

Many of my friends have been turned away and turned off by conventional religion. They have been bombarded by conservative religion in the form of relatives, friends, televangelist, politicians and churches telling them how bad and awful they are for not believing the religious flavor of the month. Because we have been in the same place at different times in our lives, we dread the idea of becoming another one of "those" people.

How do I tell people that my church is different? We accept you just as you are, you don't need to change, you don't have to believe exactly the way I believe or practice religion exactly the way I do? How do you tell your friends that no matter who they are, no matter where they are on life's journey, they are welcome here at the United Church of Christ?

Friday, June 26, 2009

Icons of the 70's & 80's Pass Away

If you were a teenage girl in the 70's or early 80's you wanted two things, the first was Farrah Fawcett's hair. Who didn't want those wonderful windblown locks that adorned the fairest of Charlie's angels? When she married Lee Majors, you just knew they were going to have a brood of bionic angels. She seemed to live a charmed life, the Marilyn Monroe of our generation without the tragicly early ending. Instead, she and Lee divorced and Farrah spent the rest of her life with her partner Ryan O'Neal. When cancer struck she suffered in graceful silence while speaking out to support funding for a cure.

The other thing you wanted if you were a teenager (boy or girl) in the 70's and early 80's was to be able to dance like Michael Jackson. From the age of 5, appearing on amateur night at the Apollo, it was clear that he had talent and charisma beyond his years. And while years later the Michael Jackson who did Billy Jean and Thriller bore little resemblance to the child who sang "One Bad Apple" the genius of his music was undeniable. Over the years Michael had many ups and downs, was the subject of speculation on many topics, charged with child molestation and experienced financial problems. His passing was unexpected. His musical genius will be missed.

For the teenagers of the 70's Farrah will always be Charlie's Angel and Michael will always make us want to get up and dance, even if we can't moonwalk.

Rest in peace Farrah and Michael, you have both left your mark on this world.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Losing a friend

We all knew for along time that Woody (Donna Woodward) was going to die. Women with ovarian cancer usually do, even with aggressive treatment. Woody was an amazing woman, a true biker in every sense of the word, an activist for LGBT rights and some one that when you met her you never forgot her. It was the morning of Boston Pride when she drew her last breath, nothing could have been more fitting. The entire community morned her passing as did those of us who are far away.

What a great loss for everyone.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Catch Up

Wow, so many things I've wanted to address but so little time.

CA supreme court ruling on Prop 8 sucks. Someone please tell me how same gender marriage affects opposite gender marriage? Look at the divorce rate for heaven's sake, it's not like straight people are messing up "traditional" marriage all on their own.

Health care - when did money become more important than the health of a child? Recently we had a friend whose young daughter was diagnosed with bone cancer. Like any responsible parent, our friend wanted a second opinion. When she tried to get the results of an MRI to take to a different doctor, the facility refused to release the results until she paid the full balance of the bill, nearly $700. She didn't have the money so we wired it to her. How can someone in good conscience act in this matter?

More later

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Budgets and Cuts and Taxes, Oh My!

If your car was paid off last year, would you continue to make the monthly payments to your lender? If you comissioned an architect to design and build your house and you loved it when it was done and couldn't imagine anything that might be missing; Would you continue to pay the architect to design and build an alternate home that you already told him that you didn't want and no intention of living in? Of course not.

So please tell me why the US continues to pay $465 milllion for a jet engine that the Pentagon said two years ago that they didn't want, didn't need and had no intention of using?

Would you continue to pay your cable bill if your cable didn't work month after month? So why does our government continue to support programs that do not show results?

Looking at the proposed list of budget cuts recommended by President Obama and hearing politicians belittle the effort and the amount as being only 0.5%. BFD just because it isn't huge does not mean we should continue to pay for these things. Their dismissive comments imply that we should just give up, that they aren't worth the effort. Maybe it doesn't affect their pocketbooks enough.

I have an idea! Why don't we just divide the $17 among those who are opposed to and/or acting dismissive about it and take it out of THEIR paychecks?

Monday, April 27, 2009

An Affirming Weekend

This past Saturday, April 25, 2009, the Southwest Conference of the United Church of Christ voted overwhelmingly to become the newest ONA conference within our denomination. What an emotional time for everyone regardless of which side of the vote they were on. The air was definitely emotionally charged. With the guidance of the Spirit, our conference minister and conference moderator, we were able to travel this road with grace and compassion.

One of the opponents made the point that UCC welcomes ALL people, thus this resolution was not necessary. While that may be true in an ideal world, we do not live in an ideal world. We must step out and proclaim our support for all who are treated unfairly for any reason, whether it be immigration status, sexual orientation, religious, or race related. It is our duty, right and privilege to speak out for those who cannot or will not.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

What were they thinking?

Come on, we've all done it, looked at what someone else was wearing and thought "how on earth did they ever think that could look good on anyone?" Even some haute courture designs can make you go "WTF?" Anyway, recently I've come across a show called What Not To Wear. The basic plot is that the hosts ambush some poor woman who has been nominated by her friends and family to have her wardrobe trashed and to spend a week in NYC shopping by the guidelines set down by the hosts.

Now, most of these "guests" aren't really that bad and they have a good time stretching their fashion boundaries and comfort zone. Yesterday there was a young woman on the show, early 20's, mother of two children, single and she certainly did not take kindly to having her "style" criticized. Some of her favorite outfits included a skirt that, she admitted, was too small when she bought it (for $250) and a pair of sandals where all her toes hung off the ends (but they were on sale). Over the years each of us has probably made one or two foolish purchases, but this child's whole closet was full of them. She thought she looked stylish, young and sexy.

Note to self - next time family and friends pay a surprise visit, pray there isn't a camera crew with them.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

One Simple Joy of Living in Phoenix

There are many simple things about living in the Valley of the Sun that can bring a quick smile to your face. This morning driving to work I witnessed one of those simple things - watching a couple hot air balloons rise and fall around the mountains to the north.

Once of the things I've noticed since we moved her 6 years ago is that when you start seeing the balloons in the morning Spring has sprung and Summer is close on her heels. How could one possibly be in a less than good mood watching the balloons float along? It doesn't matter how grumpy you are, it is going to bring a smile to your face and improve your mood.

My first experience with the hot air balloons was just after we first moved here and were living in the far west valley. We were on our way home from somewhere when we notice a balloon bearing the name of a well known fast food chain coming very close to the ground. Only a few blocks from home and finding this quite interesting, we followed it. We watched as the ground crew tried to guide the balloon down into a vacant field without success. The pilot only has so much control over the balloon, sometimes wind and other factors also exert their force. So, the ground crew chases the balloon until it is able to touch down, in this particular case, in a wash behind the subdivision where we lived.

Over the years, I've see a few balloons in real life, one that sticks out in my mind is the Energizer Bunny. Never have I seen so many so consistently as I have here. It's like a little drop of "feel good" medicine. Too bad we can't bottle it.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Riding Quads or Creative Ways to Bonk Your Head

So, for months, no, at least a year, our friend has been telling us how much fun she has out on her new ATV. She entertains us with breathtaking photos of her off road adventures. This past weekend we finally decided to join her and another friend for our first experience on a quad.

We were very eager to try this new to us motor sport. As experienced motorcyclists, we figured it would be no big deal, we'll be on four wheels, in the dirt, not even going very fast. Gloves, boots, extra layers of clothes, helmets? we don't need helmets with 4 wheels we should have no problems staying right side up.

We started out rather slowly, a bit of a problem with one of the rentals that was quickly rectified. Boy, this is not at all like riding a motorcycle, the clutch is a brake, the throttle is a little thumb lever. Shifting is done by buttons with up and down arrows.

Ok, so I'm getting the hang of this, slowly but getting there. building up some confidence going a bit faster. Someone might actually mistake me for someone who knows what she's doing. There I am, zipping along coming up to a corner and I'm thinking I'm coming in a little too hot. Reacting like a biker, I lean, lean, lean to the left while hauling the the bars in the same direction. The rear tires slide to the right, no big deal, I've been seeing my friends do that all morning. I'm sliding, sliding, sliding hitting the right shoulder, then sideways to the left. I'm thinking, I'm going to pull out of it, I've turned not quite 180 degrees when I hit the small gully and then the mountain causing the quad to flip while depositing me luckily into the gully.

As I am falling to the ground, I hear my co-worker's voice from the day before "you're not wearing helmets?" thunk...goes my head. My friends are there before I even realize that I'm under the quad, which is being kept from actually being on me because I'm in the gully and it is resting on the road and the mountain.

Thankfully, though shaken, I suffered only some bruises and very sore muscles. Moral of the story? Wear a freaking helmet.