Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Too Darn Hot

When Troubadour and I decided to move south from British Columbia, one of the reasons we chose Oregon, aside from my having been born here and having family here, was the weather / climate. We were leaving Penticton, which is situated in the only natural desert in Canada. We did not like the extremes in temperatures between winter and summer. We did not enjoy -20 degree cold in the winter and 100 degree heat in the summer.

Reasearch states that the warmest month of the year in Corvallis is August with an average maximum temperature of 82.40˚, while the coldest month of the year is January with an average minimum temperature of 33.60˚.

Right now as I write this the temperature outside is allegedly 106˚. I beg to differ. My thermometer out back in the shade is reading 104˚, which to me says it is way warmer in direct sunlight.

Now, if we were living in Southern California, Arizona, Nevada or even Texas I might expect the heat. But this is Oregon. Our heat wave of 100˚ days started Sunday and isn't supposed to let up until the weekend. Not good when most people do not have air conditioners in their homes as "it is Oregon".

With the heat you must have humor and for the past few days I cannot get the song "Too Darn Hot" out of my head. Written by Cole Porter and performed by Bianca in "Kiss me Kate" in 1948, it has also been performed by Ella Fitzgerald and I am sure many others. My favorite verison is by UK artist Stacey Kent. Here is a video, hopefully it will work...

If you do not know Stacey Kent I urge you to listen to her music. She has an amazing voice. My favorite CD of hers is "Boy Next Door". Her version of "The Best is Yet to Come" will give you goosebumps.

For now I shall listen to some cool tunes and sip some cold iced tea and try to imagine igloos to cool off cuz it's ...too darn hot.

- Au Revoir

"I'd like to coo with my baby tonight, pitch some woo with my baby tonight....but it's too darn hot" - Too Darn Hot.....lyrics by Cole Porter

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

To Be or not to Be.....

I am going to attempt to articulate my thoughts of late. Here goes.

While I've have the Ninja for about 2 weeks now I've still only been out on it once. It seems that we have plans every weekend so riding on days off is out of the question. Week nights are a toss up for me. After working all day, coming home, making dinner, doing the dishes, etc., I just don't feel like getting suited up in "full battle regalia" as I like to call it, to go for a 20-50 mile ride before dark. It is especially hard when it is over 90˚ outside and my new Scorpion mesh jacket is on backorder..... until September. Bugger.

At this point I almost feel guilty for having spent the money on the bike. Could that money have been used elsewhere? Sure it could have. Should I be making more of an effort to ride it? Probably. Could I go out every evening if I had the inclination? I am sure Troubadour could be pursuaded to lead me around more often than not, but I am having trouble getting myself out there.

This brings me to my ponderance of late. I like to call myself a motorcycle enthusiast. I am enthusiastic about motorcycles. I enjoy motorcycling and being on my own bike. I like reading motorcycle magazines. I belong to more than one motorcycle forum. I like riding pillion with hubby, etc, etc.

On the other hand motorcycling is not something I need to do every day. I do not have to ride. I do not start to twitch if I haven't twisted the throttle in a few days. My hand doesn't hit the drivers window in a subconscious 'wave' at riders when in the car. I can get motorcycle overload when too may things are centered around riding and motorcycles for too long of a stretch. Too many days of suiting up and riding out in the heat make me long for my little Versa with air conditioning that I can wear my comfy shorts and sandals while driving.

So does this take away from my enthusiasm? Heck no. I still love motorcycles. But I think you can love the bikes and the sport without actually "loving" the bikes and the sport. Wink wink nudge nudge know what I mean.

Could this be the difference in being a motorcycle enthusiast and being passionate about motorcycles? Am I not passionate about them because they do not consume my world? I don't know. Is the passion that consumes some people and what they feel for motorcycles something that is nurtured and develops the more one rides? I don't know. The more I ride, the more I'll find out if my enthusiasm for riding turns into a passion for riding and all things motorcycles.

As I sit and write this Troubadour is out on a ride with a small group over to Albany for the first of many monthly Albany Bike Nights. I could have gone, but alas, I did not feel like it. He is passionate about the sport and will take almost any opportunity to ride as shown by him commuting on his bike year round. He has over 20 years of riding experience to back up his passion.

I am trying to figure out if by putting more miles on the Ninja I will be more comfortable and confident in riding and thus more engaged /passionate about the sport.

We are hoping to get out for a ride tomorrow evening or maybe even Sunday so we'll see if a few more miles will encourage me a little more. Don't get me wrong, I like to ride and will continue to ride and hone my skills and build confidence, I am just waiting for the passion to kick in to get me off the sofa in the evening and on to the bike more.

On a side note.... It is physically possible to kick ones self in the butt, but somehow it doesn't always motivate.

-Au Revoir

"If you ride like there's no tomorrow, there won't be." ~ Author Unknown

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Off to See the Wizard


Okay, there were no actual wizards in attendance so far as we knew, but we did attend the 40th Anniversary of the Oregon Country Fair in Veneta last Saturday. If you click on the poster to make it larger you can see a depiction of the crowds wandering through the vendor booths. By the afternoon it really does look like this. According to their website the Fair "creates events and experiences that nourish the spirit, explore living artfully and authentically on Earth, and transform culture in magical, joyous and healthy ways."

Translated that means there are a lot of free spirits mulling around, some dressed in costumes, some not dressed at all unless you count body paint.

We were able to watch one topless women get her breasts painted in a really neat pattern. Troubadour took a few pics, but we thought it best not to put them online as we weren't sure how she would feel about it. Trust me, we weren't the only ones taking pictures.

We have heard about the Fair for years and always wanted to go. This year we bought tickets early so we knew we'd go. Friends and coworkers warned us of the sights we'd see and how "far out man" it was. Although the consensus was you have to go at least once. We knew that Utilikilt always has a booth and Troubaour was really interested in seeing them. Read on ... we saw more of them than we needed to.

We parked at a local mall in Eugene and took the free shuttle bus. Packed into a standing room only bus (and yes we were standing) we rode to the site of the Fair. It was a nice overcast day that started out in the low 70's so it was perfect temperture. No sunscreen required.

We arrived at the fair site about 11:00 am and we were greeted by many costumed stilt walkers (think wigs, corsets and stockings) as we entered the gate. Everyone was friendly and wished us a good fair. It is a 280 acre woodland setting with vendor booths lining both sides of many paths. The vendors sold wares ranging from wood flutes, leather carnival masks, fairy wings, and kilts to pillow furniture, leather belts, and more jewelery than you can shake a stick at. Here are a few pics of us having fun with the carnival masks....

We wandered the different paths looking at all the booths smelling all the yummy food vendor smells. Stopped for a nice decaf vanilla latte from Valentine's Coffee. That kept us going while we wandered some more. Windsocks sewn to look like kilts attracted us to the Utilikilt booth. We kind of circumvented the line and were able to get right up to the kilts and a nice man started talking to Troubadour about the Celtic Warrior Kilt he was wearing. As he was talking Troubadour into trying one on he tried to make him more comfortable about changing in front of everyone. Before we could blink the kilt salesman faced the line-up and completely ripped off his kilt and started shaking his thang while shouting "Hey everyone there is a naked man over here...wooohooo". I think he did this twice. I don't know who was embarrased more Troubadour or myself. I am sure we were both blushing. Troubadour did buy a drab olive Utilikilt and wore it the rest of the day. It is his new favorite and looks damn good wearing it. Unfortunately we don't have pictures of it yet.

Later in the afternoon we found the Greek Food vendor. For $8.50 we had a huge combination plate that consisted of a spanikopita (phillo filled with spinach and feta) and a greek salad. We washed it down with an almond soda which I'd never tried before but now recommend. Tasted like club soda mixed with a little almond syrup like what you would use in a latte. Of course we had to get a picture of the food. A tradition that has carried over from our motorcyle rides.

More wandering ensued. Here are a few more random pictures taken of the sights:

I don't think this was the Travelocity Gnome but it was fun to see. I wonder if he enjoys a stinky cheese.....

Her complete dress was made from film reel strips and her hair was woven to look like a film reel....

This guy looked like Doug Wilson from Trading Spaces on TLC.

And last an impromptu costumed musical parade though the pathways....

We were disappointed that we could not get close enough to any of the stages to see the musical acts. This is how close we could get to the main stage:

All in all we had a great day. Our legs and hips were sore from walking on the uneven ground for 6 hours without sitting. I could have done without all the pot smoke and cigarette smoke but I think we'll still go back next year. Maybe on a Friday though so there aren't as many people. One thing we did notice is that it wasn't as wild and risque as people told us. Maybe it takes a lot to shock us. I image 20-30 years ago it would have been a sight to behold. Now we just have to figure out if we should go to Faerieworlds in Eugene in two weeks. We're heard it is really cool. Now where did I put those faerie wings?

-Au Revoir

"I believe in everything until it's disproved. So I believe in fairies, the myths, dragons. It all exists, even if it's in your mind. Who's to say that dreams and nightmares aren't as real as the here and now?" ~ John Lennon

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Stop and Smell the Flowers

The other day while puttering outside while Troubadour was washing his bike, I wandered through the yard and looked at all the plants we have in bloom.

I decided to grab the camera and take a few pictures to share. Here are a few flowers/shrubs from our yard.

Tahitian Sunset Rose:

Blooms on the "Milky Way" Dogwood tree:

Blossoms on the Portuguese Laurel tree complete with buzzing insect:

Lime colored Continus "Golden Spirit" (aka Smoke tree)

And last a simple rose blossom lit by the afternoon sun. I did not black out the background, the shrub was in the shadow of a fence except for the blooms on top.

Not everything is in bloom yet, but as they decide to flower, I will take more pictures.

-Au Revoir

"The universe is one great kindergarten for man. Everything that exists has brought with it its own peculiar lesson. The mountain teaches stability and grandeur; the ocean immensity and change. Forests, lakes, and rivers, clouds and winds, stars and flowers, stupendous glaciers and crystal snowflakes--every form of animate or inanimate existence, leaves its impress upon the soul of man." - Orison Swett Marden

Friday, July 10, 2009

Out with the old, in with the new

It has been a busy week or so for Troubadour and I. We decided to sell my little Nighthawk as it was just too small and buzzy or shaky at highway speed. Troubadour had ridden it to work a few times and understood what I meant. I don't think it was as bad for him as he outweighs me and has more upper body strength. A few rides ago Troubadour was more than nice and let me take his Triumph for a ride when on a long straight stretch of the back roads we travel. I couldn't believe the difference in the two. Like night and day. Before riding the Nighthawk I wasn't confident enough to try his bike. But even after a short distance I didn't really want to go back to the Nighthawk.

Last Tuesday, June 30th, we took the bikes out for an evening ride and I put another 52 miles on the Nighthawk. That pretty much made the decision for me that I would be more comfortable on something a little bigger and more stable. Troubadour is teaching me the fine art of counter-steering and I have the concept down, now just need to try for a smooth execution and a higher speed. That is why we took a longer ride that had lots of curves. No twisties per se, but curves. Troubadour would like me to lean a little more when turning at stop lights and such (and not cut corners) and I think it would be easier on a bike with a smoother throttle. The Nighthawk's is so choppy in first gear. That ride helped with our decision to sell and find something else.

We listed the Nighthawk on craigslist. Luckily after a few days it sold. Troubadour always browses what is for sale on Craigslist under motorcycles and so we had been keeping an eye on what was out there. The hard part was weighing fiscal responsibility with the "oh boy, I have to have it" emotional factor.

We looked at the 2008 Suzuki SV650 but cannot find any dealers with them still in stock in a tri-State area. Cross that off the list. I do like the looks of the Suzuki Gladius but didn't want to pay that much. Ducati Monster? Love it but way too expensive.

We put out a thread on our Pacific Northwest Riders Forum looking for ideas and our friends and bike night buddies did not let us down. We received a lot of friendly advice and ideas and, as always, some good natured ribbing.

I kept going back to one Craigslist ad that I had initially dismissed. A 2006 silver and "flame persimmon red" Kawasaki Ninja 650R. It looked awesome and had the "woohoo" factor I was looking for and from the reviews it was a smaller bike that wouldn't get me into too much trouble. It was lady owned (she wanted a Ducati) and was complete with heated grips, Zero Gravity windscreen, Arrow exhaust, and fender eliminator w/LED tail light - rear signals.

I initially dismissed it as it had a fairing and I thought I wanted naked. Apparently I didn't because I kept going back to it. Troubadour made the call earlier this week and before I knew it we were driving north of Portland after work to take a look. It was in great shape and he took it for a quick ride to check handling and if he thought I would like it. It appeared to be a good size and the seating was a little more upright than most sportier bikes. I sat on it and it seemed a good fit and I can put both feet flat on the ground. We did a little haggling and suddenly Troubadour was riding it home.

It is a sweet looking little bike. I finally got to take it out for a ride last night and it was great. So much smoother than the Nighthawk. It will take a bit to get used to the brakes and throttle as they are quite different but it will come with practice. I will have to be careful in parking lots and low speeds as it is about 100 lbs heavier than the Nighthawk and gravity can be a bitch. Frame sliders have been recommended more than once (usually with a warning that says "Ask me how I know") so Troubadour already has them on order. I am looking forward to many more rides getting to know the bike and gaining confidence.

Here are a few more pics......

-Au Revoir

"Well-trained reflexes are quicker than luck." ~Author Unknown

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Happy Independence day - Be American


Happy Independence Day America!!

Since it is Independence day I must ponder the label of "American".

Why do people have to differentiate and divide themselves by their racial history? I find it irksome when people say they are "Mexican-American" or "African-American" or "Indo-American". To me that seems to divide us further. If you were born in this country you are an American, no matter where your parents or grandparents, etc were born or the color of your skin. I understand that people are proud of their heritage, but they are still "Americans".

If we all think of ourselves as Americans, we are all the same and maybe someday the racial divide will close, but to continue to separate does just that - separate us as a nation. Don't get me wrong. I don't believe we should all act the same, or look the same or even pretend to be the same. As Americans we should be equal and treated as such without the differentiating prefix. Didn't our ancestors fight the Revolutionary War so they didn't have to be "British American"? They simply wanted to be Americans.

I saw this quote today and had to put it in a blog as it rang true for me:

'The one being abhorrent to the powers above the earth and under them is the hyphenated American—the “German-American,” the “Irish-American," or the "native-American." Be Americans, pure and simple! If you don't act on the theory that every man who in good faith assumes the duties and responsibilities of an American citizen in a spirit of true Americanism is an American, and is to be treated as such, are yourselves unfit to take part in managing our government and you are bound to make a failure if you try to better the condition of our cities." -Theodore Roosevelt, Before Liberal Club, Buffalo, N. Y., September 10, 1895

Now go forth and celebrate your patriotism by setting off some air polluting, noise polluting pyrotechnics made in China. Sorry, I never did understand the tradition and it scares the hell out of our cat.

-Au Revoir

"The name of American, which belongs to you, in your national capacity, must always exalt the just pride of Patriotism.... It should be the highest ambition of every American to extend his views beyond himself, and to bear in mind that his conduct will not only affect himself, his country, and his immediate posterity; but that its influence may be co-extensive with the world, and stamp political happiness or misery on ages yet unborn." - George Washington

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Happy Canada Day! - Summer's Over

First, I must say Happy Canada Day to my wonderful hubby Troubadour and also to all of our Canadian friends and relatives. I hope you have a great day off, you all deserve it. Sorry you have to work Troubadour.

Now, I must explain the rest of the title of this post - "Summer's Over". When we lived in British Columbia it always seemed that time went by so quickly that the minute it was Canada Day, summer was over and it was Labour Day already. Yes, I spelled it "labour", it is Canada Day after all.

It still seems to be true today. So enjoy summer why you can, before you know it, it will be over. In fact the days are getting shorter already. Somehow it doesn't seem fair that the days get longer in spring, but when the nice weather hits, they get shorter.

Have a wonderful day everyone, whether you are enjoying the sunshine and a day off or working and watching the sun through the window.

- Au Revoir

"As always, Canada will now bury its war dead, just as the rest of the world, as always, will forget its sacrifice, just as it always forgets nearly everything Canada ever does. It seems that Canada's historic mission is to come to the selfless aid both of its friends and of complete strangers, and then, once the crisis is over, to be well and truly ignored. Canada is the perpetual wallflower that stands on the edge of the hall, waiting for someone to come and ask her for a dance." - Kevin Myers (The Daily Telegraph, London)