A friend of a different sort…

Asked what chore I find the most challenging to do I’d have to say all of them! To me, a chore is a mundane task that must be done but isn’t exactly fun. Usually, the most challenging part of completing a chore is in summoning up the motivation to start it! But the question reminds me of a friend whose company I was lucky enough to be able to enjoy about 20 years ago.

I had an Australian Shepherd/Chocolate Lab mix named Strutter and we walked in a nearby public park each morning before I went to work. If you have a dog you take out for walks, you know you meet a lot of people depending on how friendly or curious your pup is about investigating new humans and/or other dogs. Once Strutter decided to befriend Molly, a Black Lab that was often out walking the same trail at the same time we were, I was blessed to meet her owner, George.

George was in his early 80s and quite a character. Any time we ran into each other, we’d stroll along chatting while the dogs played and socialized. I loved his stories, wit, and perspective. One morning as we shared our plans for the rest of the day, I whined that I had to do laundry. George asked why I dreaded that, as he considered it one of the easiest of household chores to accomplish.

He pointed out, “You just put the clothes in the washer then when they’re done put them in the dryer and that’s it!”

“Yeah, but it’s having to sort everything; whites, darks, colors, it’s a pain”, I replied.

“Sort?!” His blue eyes sparkled when he exclaimed, “I gave that up 30 years ago!”

I laughed along with his infectious chuckle at that response and still smile when I think of George. And now I realize I’m around the age he said he gave up the annoying aspect of sorting laundry. Do I dare? If you see me wearing a pink sweatshirt that obviously was originally grey, you’ll know I decided the answer is yes!

“Sneaky sneaky, Sir”

Many factors determine what makes a gift memorable. For example, sentimentality. Years ago, my dad gave me a rain suit to keep me dry when caught on my motorcycle in wet weather. He laughed when I thanked him and told him it was a truly appreciated gift that I hoped I wouldn’t need much. I still think of him when I make sure it’s packed on the bike for a trip, even more so since he passed away.

Another gift prompts a memory I’d like to share because of the element of sneaky surprise. I was Christmas shopping and spotted some hummingbird suncatchers. My mom and I both enjoy feeding and watching hummingbirds in the summer, and we’d talked about how we miss them when they leave for the winter. She likes bright, warm colors so I bought her a red one, one that would be around through all seasons.

I saw a blue and green bird suncatcher I liked at that time but didn’t buy it because I decided I should stick with gifts for others that close to Christmas. I knew my mom would like the one I chose for her, and excitedly showed it to my boyfriend when I got home and described the colors of the other birds I liked. A few days later, I decided I just had to have a permanent hummingbird too, so I went back to the shop that sold them. The one I had wanted was gone, so I picked up a green suncatcher to hang in the window.

Imagine my surprise when I opened my gift from my boyfriend a couple weeks later. There was the blue and green hummingbird I’d wanted! It wasn’t at the shop when I’d tried to go back for it because he’d secretly gone sneaking back to pick it up for me. Both hummingbirds are hanging in the window to this day, and I remember the effort my boyfriend made to surprise me that year. It still makes me smile when I look at them.

A Magical Medium

When I’m asked why I write, three reasons come to mind. First, I write to express myself. It’s satisfying to use the written word to explore my thoughts and feelings without interruption and hurry. Also, since written communication is constantly used for work and other areas of life, it’s nice to use it as an outlet for my own creativity and enjoyment.

Additionally, I write to describe and share experiences. Whether it’s to record an occasion to reminisce over with someone who was there or to explain to another what an event was like, it’s a fun medium of fellowship.

Finally, I like to write to entertain others. I’ve loved giving and receiving the magic of storytelling my whole life. Given my love for reading, it’s a huge compliment if something I’ve written evokes emotion in another person. Especially if it’s my favorite reaction of laughter.

To brave or not to brave…

As part of the Bloganuary Challenge, the question has been asked, “How are you brave?”

It’s a thought-provoking inquiry, especially when comparing textbook definitions of the word brave to my own perception of its meaning. Any mention of bravery is typically associated with the heroic actions of an individual who defies fear and danger, one who takes risks to win some sort of challenge.

I’ve noticed that given the types of hobbies I enjoy, one person might call me brave while another is  calling me crazy. To each their own, I’ve reciprocated the same thought about other people regarding their pastimes. In these references, there is usually a physical activity involved. For example, some call me crazy for riding a motorcycle. I think rock climbing is crazy and yes, still consider those who choose to participate as brave.

Personally, I would describe bravery as venturing out of one’s comfort zone, especially to provide assistance. And helping oneself counts as much as that of aid given to other people as far as I’m concerned. Quieter tasks such as applying for a better job, taking a class you’re interested in but intimidated by, or just going out to dinner by yourself could all be thought of as brave.

After some of the hardships everyone has persevered through since covid became a part of our reality, I hope everyone recognizes the bravery inside themselves. Credit yourself for the courage it takes to keep going and rock on with your brave self!


Happy New Year! I rang in 2023 with family and as we all speculated on what the future might bring, we also shared many memories of times past. We entertained my 14-year-old niece with funny stories from her toddler days. That included a video my brother shot of her at his desk with a pad and pencil trying to write. As she seemed to mimic her dad at work, he teased her by “just happening” to suddenly rearrange items in her space and place obstacles in her way. She ignored him at first but as her attempts to continue her composition were blocked, she became frustrated at his interference and yelled, “No Daddy, need WRITE!”

A few days before this recollection, I’d decided to participate in the WordPress Bloganuary Challenge to motivate me to spend more time writing. After all, I haven’t posted to my blog in almost two years! And so, when the first prompt questioned what I’d like to achieve this year, I found it timely that I’d been reminiscing on my preschooler niece’s declaration that she need WRITE!

I do too.

This year for my goal, resolution, or whatever you want to call it, I’ll strive to accomplish more writing. It’s been taking a backseat to other obligations, so actively scheduling time to write and giving it higher priority is an achievement I hope to reach.

Elusive N spot and other quirks…

If I’m not out riding, I like living vicariously and reading about the experiences of others on their adventures. Foster Kinn is a biker/author whose outlook and stories I enjoy. He does a great job at highlighting funny or unique interactions with people he meets while on the road. Check out his book, Freedom’s Rush: Tales from The Biker and The Beast, as well as his FB page for yourself to see what I mean. A particular observation he made a couple of years ago stuck with me, because it’s hilariously accurate:

“Saw about a dozen and a half bikers pull into a gas station. After watching them stop at the pumps, start up their bikes and ride to the front of the convenience store, stop, then fire up their bikes again and take off, I’ve come to the conclusion that the most time consuming activity bikers engage in is finding neutral.”  -Kinn

I might not have understood how funny his comment is, if it didn’t turn out to be true when trying to get the Heritage into neutral. I think of it as this bike’s particular quirk. Once I’ve come to a complete stop with the bike still running, forget about finding neutral. It’s a waste of time unless I kill the engine first. That leaves me with a just a quick opportunity to shift into neutral as I’m coasting in, before I put my feet down.

I didn’t have this issue with my last bike, the Sportster. Neutral was always easy to find, but there were other little problems to deal with, lovingly or otherwise. The most annoying quirk developed on a soggy return from Myrtle Beach Bike Week. At the time, I still lived in Virginia and what should have been a somewhat quick seven hour blast up the interstate turned into a much longer ordeal.  With no rain in the forecast, I’d headed back early in the morning along with a friend. As we approached the South Carolina/North Carolina border, what we thought was a short thunderstorm hit. We’d hoped to wait it out at a fast food place, but the weatherman’s notoriety at being wrong rang true once again, and it turned out this shower was in to linger for a while. The constant soaking on the ride up through the state of North Carolina wreaked havoc with my turn signals.

At some point, I realized my left turn signal was blinking and wouldn’t cut back off. When I hit the switch on the right side, they both stayed on. I figured letting them run as hazards would be less confusing to the drivers around us, and added a bonus visibility to traffic coming up from behind. So we continued north, our own little 2 bike, flashing yellow parade. Once home, a mechanic buddy went through the lighting system and fixed it. We thought so anyway. The next time I was caught in rain, the blinker came on again. And the next time I washed it, blinking! After a while, I didn’t even have to get the bike wet for the flashing to start again. If it rained, the left signal turned on and would continue for a few days. Another friend went through the wiring, and couldn’t find anything wrong. It was a quirk I came to deal with, and plan my state inspections around as I knew it would never pass if there had been recent rain!

I’ve come to think of these quirks as something that makes riding interesting, and even makes the bike more endearing to the rider. After all, don’t we encounter quirks with our friends, family, and significant others? As far as people go you’ll find loud ones, squirrely ones, those that are hard to kick into gear, and those who are full speed ahead all the time. I love them and am thankful they love me too, quirks and all!


Rally On…

Mild December ride in Gettysburg

Things are…different. That seems to be the understatement of 2020. Especially when discussing the COVID-19 pandemic. Those conversations tend to involve a more thorough description with a sprinkling of expletives not suitable for print here. Frustrations over some of the safety requirements are certainly understandable. To me, it seems the restrictions we’ve had to follow have not only had a negative impact on the livelihood of so many, but tend to stifle human nature itself. Take masks for example. While they may help to limit the spread of the virus, the inability to see and share smiles with others is really starting to wear on me. I miss hugs, and although I enjoy riding on my own, I’m looking forward to the day when bigger group rides and in-person gatherings are possible. One of the joys of riding that I’m most drawn to is the feeling of freedom. On the bike, I’m not too fat, thin, rich, poor, old, or young. I’m just me, living in that moment, free from being categorized and judged. I think most riders are attracted to not only that sense of freedom, but the actual freedom to move about and travel at will. The lockdown and social distancing have cramped that style and led to the cancellation of many events. I was stunned and saddened to hear Gettysburg Bike Week had been called off for 2020.

Dec. ride resize
My ol’ Sportie in Gettysburg

A favorite rally in the Mid-Atlantic Region, it’s traditionally falls over the weekend following Independence Day. It offers the usual attractions of a motorcycle event, meeting others who love to ride, games, music, and vendors. In addition the town is of course full of history, restaurants with fantastic food, and the surrounding areas provide gorgeous views to ride through. Another unique aspect in Gettysburg, the residents seem to enjoy the event as much as the bikers. I’ve always felt welcome, and discovered that the Saturday evening parade of motorcycles through downtown is yearly entertainment for a lot of the locals.
Luckily, the pandemic restrictions are easing in Pennsylvania and it appears the spirit of freedom can’t be cancelled. From what I understand through word of mouth as well as online communication, most people who were planning to attend bike week are still going. This is news that lifts my spirit more than I could’ve imagined. There are businesses like restaurants, campgrounds, and hotels that are reopening and need the patronage. After all, safety precautions are nothing new to motorcyclists. They’re considered in how we ride, the way we maintain our bikes, and what types of gear we choose to wear. I’m confident everyone is capable to make their own choices about what is safe for them regarding the virus too. So while things might be…different in that there is no “official” event scheduled, I have a feeling Gettysburg is still going to be full of fun the second weekend in July. Be safe, and Happy Independence Day!

A Wave

I’m waving at you! Not the casual, graceful, outstretch of the arm as we pass each other type of wave. It’s that YOU’RE-ONE-OF-THE-FIRST-RIDERS-I’VE-MET-ON-THE-ROAD-THIS-SEASON-AND-WE’RE-BOTH-SO-HAPPY-TO-BE-OUT-WE-LOOK-LIKE-WE’RE-ABOUT-TO-DRUNK-JOUST-EACH-OTHER kind of salute.
Because I’ve missed ya! I haven’t been writing much lately…well in this way. I’m taking a class on business writing and it’s so different than what I’m used to, it’s hard and taking up a lot of time. Add that to an already busy phase in life and THEN! Suddenly there’s an undercurrent of attention circling around a new virus that has the same name as a beer. They start referring to it as COVID-19 which I can’t seem to get right until someone points out that you can sing it to the Dexy’s Midnight Runners tune “Come on Eileen”. And that undercurrent of information swells to a daily drenching as you take in more stories and statistics and find out people are building toilet paper forts or something like that.
Before you know it, we find ourselves treading water in a dangerous global pandemic and life is completely different. In the grand scheme of things, so far I’m okay and feel very blessed for that. Everyone is facing some sort of struggle as we all try to stay safe from this virus. For me, the most difficult requirement is staying away from my dad. He lives in a senior/memory care facility that recently locked down in order to protect the residents. In-person visits are prohibited which can frustrate me to tears. He also loves to shoot pool and while I might have to remind him whether he has solids or stripes every turn, he’s still a good shot. We talk on the phone often, but I miss taking him out to play. How do I explain this change in our routine to someone who doesn’t fully understand? Hell I don’t really understand, I wake up each day feeling like I’m living a Stephen King story!
Still, I find myself counting my blessings even more than usual. Included in that count, is the ability to ride. Thank God it’s spring and warmer temps will become the norm! Feeling teary a few days ago, I took a break from stress and went for a quick scoot on the Heritage. By the time I was out of my neighborhood I could breathe easier, then once I hit fifth gear I felt every muscle release tension and relax. Not only did the ride lift my spirits, but it helped to see evidence that folks are still supporting each other through tough times. These days, regional restaurants have been forced to close for in-house dining, but can deliver or offer curbside pick up options. I rode past a local establishment that under normal conditions would be a fun stop for good food and a cold brew. It made me feel better to see they were still doing business as there were quite a few cars in the parking lot while customers waited on their to-go orders.
The more you look, the more you see these sorts of examples. When small businesses are hit with restrictions, their supporters find ways to lift them up. People are actively looking for more things to do to help each other. Efforts are underway to take care of the elderly, children, hospital workers, and truckers. I think this is going to continue. If this pandemic is a situation that is going to get worse before it gets better, I feel our positive reactions are going to increase and we’re all going to make it through this. Not only will we survive, but we’ll get to the other side even stronger.
In the meantime, remember to find ways to comfort yourself as well as others. Go for that ride, count your blessings, and find a way to lend a neighbor or a stranger a hand. We all know any road trip is full of highs and lows; this phase in our lives is the same. Be as safe as you can be, and keep in touch along the way.