Monday, December 29, 2008

Tips for the Two-Up Passenger

I thought I'd start a recurring post about all the things I have learned while being the passenger riding two-up. This picture is an entirely different type of two up from what I am thinking but some of the same principles might apply. There are certain things you automatically realize you should or should not do.... and there are things you learn by doing.

I will try and write as many tips as I have learned over my years of being the passenger.... one tip at a time.

Two-Up Tip No. 1: When the bike is coming to a stop, abruptly or otherwise, learn to use your stomach muscles and upper body strength to control the speed with which your helmet goes forward (if at all) as not to strike the front rider's helmet and "ring his bell". Often times this can only be learned from experience. You will know when it occurs as if done hard and fast enough, can ring your bell as well. Please engage your stomach muscles and slightly lean back to avoid any cranial disturbances for the front rider.

-Au Revoir

"Stubbornness is also a determination. It's simply a matter of shifting from 'won't power' to 'will power'." - Peter McWilliams

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Random Cat Pictures

Over the years Brad and I have come to the conclusion that we are cat people. I know there are dog people and cat people and those that enjoy the company of both. We are unequivocally cat people. 

As cat people we have taken a lot of random pictures of our cats over the years, some amusing, some serious, some downright laugh-out-loud funny. I thought I'd start a series of posts containing these random photos. Some will be of Sir Baxter (who passed away in September this year) and others shall be of Squire Basil - the current ruler of our humble abode. Occasionally we'd catch the two hanging out together, although they would never admit it.

' Sir Baxter on our office chair'

-Au Revoir

"Cats seem to go on the principle that it never does any harm to ask for what you want." - Joseph Wood Krutch

Monday, December 22, 2008

Ice Capades

Ice capades, snow capades, we've had a little of both this last week or so. Woke up to rain this morning then it was snowing again. Luckily it has all melted now.

I thought I'd share a few of the pictures I've taken this last week of the snow covered trees in the beautiful sunshine. All of these pictures are views from our house. One towards the back, one towards the front and the side. It sure makes me think of growing up in British Columbia and all the snow we would have every year. At times we had snow as early as Halloween and you couldn't see the costumes because of the winter coats and ski pants. I think we were all dressed as Olympic skiers back in those days.

I can honestly say that I do not miss shoveling snow, but I do however, miss long walks in deep snow on a nice sunny day. The winter before moving to Corvallis we had quite a bit of snow in Penticton. I remember New Years day 2000 walking several miles in the snow just to get a New Years newspaper with the Y2K date on it. I miss those walks. We don't get enough snow or the right conditions around here to do that type of thing. It either freezes and becomes a sheet of ice not conducive to walking or turns into brown slush. 'Sigh'. I guess we could venture into the hills to go for a walk but who wants to fight the unsuspecting traffic.

Since we moved to Oregon I've never owned a pair of winter boots or a winter jacket. It just doesn't seem to get as cold down here. Mind you that was a major factor in moving here. One of these days I may cave and buy some waterproof boots as we seem to be getting more and more snow every year. For now I'll have to make do with my water resistant Keens.

Appreciez les images.
-Au Revoir

"Kindness is like snow - it beautifies everything it covers" - unknown

Sunday, December 21, 2008

All Hail Solstice!

The Winter Solstice is upon us and this time of year makes me think of Stonehenge. It has fascinated me for as long as I can remember. To me it is awe inspiring and one day I hope to visit the mystical ruins.

Most people wouldn't imagine Stonehenge in the snow but this picture definitely makes you think of winter.

Winter Solstice would have been of great importance to the builders of Stonehenge, people who depended on the longer warmer days ahead to heat the ground and make their crops thrive. Summer Solstice sunrise is observed at the ruins and also Winter Solstice sunset.

Most people do not know of the other awe inspiring monolithic site, this one in Ireland and called New Grange. It is estimated to be centuries older than Stonehenge and was thought to be built with the sole purpose of receiving a shaft of sunlight deep into it's central chamber at the dawn of Winter Solstice.

I know there are a lot of people out there who do not observe the solstices. I however do not observe the hijacked commercialized buying frenzy known as Christmas. I believe that people should be free to believe what they want to believe or in many cases free to not believe without being looked down to or frowned upon by others. The greatest thing about an opinion is just that, it is an opinion. It is not right, it is not wrong, it is what it is and it is okay to have different opinions.

I do wonder why it is that stores sell Christmas cards by the thousands if not millions but I can't find one store I can walk into and buy a Happy Solstice or Yule Celebration card to send to friends and family. Good thing we have the internet. I wonder if in my lifetime all celebrations will be readily accepted or will we continue to be dominated by religious celebrations and holidays? Time will tell.

Des jours plus chauds en avant
-Au Revoir

"Oh wind, if winter comes, can spring be far behind?" - Percy Bysshe Shelley

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Ptarmigan or Milquetoast?

This particular post is about motorcycles. Now the title doesn't seem to make much sense right now but bear with me and it will.

You know from my previous post that I am married to the Troubadour which means motorcycles are a big part of our lives. Do I ride you might ask? Well the answer to that is not black and white. More of a lavender grey I'd say.

When the opportunity arises to join Brad on the bike for a ride I go along as long as I don't mind where we're headed, how long we'll be gone, and how big the group is we're riding with or if we're just headed out for a solitary ride. I admit the solitary rides are my favorite. I did more riding with him this season since he has the America as opposed to last riding season with the Sprint ST.

Have I ever thought about my own bike? Sure I ponder it often. In 2002 I went through the Motorcycle Safety Course through Team Oregon (highly recommended) and I am officially a licensed motorcycle rider. Have I ever ridden on my own? I am sad to say that 6 years later I have not. The State of Oregon trusts me to ride on my own, I however, do not.

That is where our story of ptarmigans and milquetoasts comes in. Why haven't I ridden on my own? Am I like the humble ptarmigan, also known as a chicken? Or am I like a milquetoast - a fancy name for a sissy? Lets delve further into my grey matter and find out.

Troubadour patiently taught me the basics of riding on his old KZ900 riding around the local High School parking lot. I was comfortable even confident. He wanted me to have some basic skills before taking the class. I went to the class and was given one of those very low to the ground Suzuki 250's with the forward controls. I think I have sat on toilet seats that have been higher off the ground. I am not an overly tall woman at just under 5'8" but my legs are the greater part of that height. It took some getting used to in the class but I nevertheless was used to that bike by the end and was actually confident on it. Of course I took the class in September in the pouring rain - note to self, do not leave your rain pants in your car. They do not keep you from getting wet when they are in the trunk. I choked during the testing and laid the bike down and ended up going back in November for a re-test. No shame in that, I aced it next time around - in worse weather conditions in November, maybe because I wore my rain pants.

The problem started after getting endorsed. I went from that low center of gravity Suzuki with forward controls back to the KZ900 that is taller with sportier located controls. I didn't feel comfortable at all. My confidence was shaken and in no way did I want to drop the Troubadour's only bike. A second bike wasn't an option at the time as we had only been in Corvallis about 18 months and were still getting settled.

Priorities change, we bought our first house. I believe we did buy a Honda Magna in there thinking either one of us could ride it and it was still newer than the KZ. For whatever reason I still didn't ride it. Maybe because I didn't want to drop the newer bike, maybe because it had been a few years since my course? Maybe I was just chicken?

We then sold that house and bought the one we're currently in and renovating. Could I get my own bike right now? Sure, but I'd rather have a new kitchen. Those damn priorities and being fiscally responsible get in the way.

Do I ever want my own bike? Most definitely. For now I shall continue to make excuses for "not right now". Why expend double the cost in bikes, double cost for insurance, and double the cost for gas when we'll be headed in the same direction at the same time anyway? Maybe I am being environmentally friendly and lowering our carbon footprint by riding two up? Sadly, maybe I am just a ptarmigan. Time will tell.

Je suis un poulet humble.
-Au Revoir

"You are a coward when you even seem to have backed down from a thing you openly set out to do" - Mark Twain

Friday, December 19, 2008

The Mystical, Lyrical Trobairitz

What is a Trobairitz you might ask? Well.... one could say it is the female counterpart/version of a Troubadour. Since I am married to Troubadour on a Triumph I couldn't not in good conscience call this blog anything else.

This blog is a new venture for me in uncharted territory. I know people who have blogs, or have a myspace or facebook page but I have resisted their urgings to start one of my own. Being a nonconformist I was reluctant to start a blog or social page, but alas here I am. I can only try to make the blog something out of the ordinary and push the envelope. I shall endeavor to think outside the blog.

I do not know how often I shall post or even what the topics will be. I shall use this venue as a virtual writing tablet for my random thoughts, beliefs, griefs, views, opinions, impressions, dreams, ideas, ponderings, reflections, ruminations and anything else that flits into my head on any given day.

-Au Revoir

"When the fabric of the universe becomes unknown, it is the duty of the university to produce weavers" - Gordon Gee