Monday, February 28, 2011

Ahhhh Mother Nature

When suiting up this morning for my commute in the pouring rain, I decided I wasn't being stubborn by not taking the bus or a ride from someone else while the car is in the shop.

No, I decided I was "thumbing my nose at adversity while giving Mother Nature the finger." Much more satisfying than being stubborn.

It was raining when I let the cat out at 3:30 this morning, but by the time we woke at 6:00 it had stopped. By 7:00 it came back with a vengeance. Heavy rain and some cross winds thrown in for good measure.

My commute is only 3 miles so I didn't have a chance to get chilly. People at work thought I was crazy for riding in this but it felt pretty good. My route didn't have much gravel and only two stop lights were red. Okay, I admit, I only have a total of 4 stoplights on my commute so I was running at 50%. Pretty good for Corvallis, home of the red light.

I enjoyed the ride this morning more than I thought I would. I almost felt like skipping in the rain by the time I got to the office....

I wouldn't be near that graceful wearing full battle regalia. Sure it was an inconvenience getting suited up for such a short distance and I had to have my visor open a bit to keep from fogging up, but I was enjoying myself and it got me back on two wheels, which I haven't been for several weeks.

I was already out and wet, too bad I couldn't have just kept riding.

On a side note, my Rev'it Siren jacket and First Gear pants kept me totally dry. Even my wallet and cell phone in the outer pocket of the Rev'it were dry. After this week I'll have to post up a review of my wet weather riding gear. It is supposed to rain every day this week, but I think I can handle it.

Hooray, less than 3 more weeks until spring. Oh wait, doesn't it rain in Oregon in the spring?

-Au Revoir

"How can something bother you if you won't let it?" ~ Terri Guillemets

Saturday, February 26, 2011

This helps.

As Bobskoot recently commented, only 9 more sleeps, well hopefully only 7 more now. The weather is certainly helping with the wait. Wednesday morning we had a bit of snow at home which melted by early afternoon. However, Thursday morning we woke to 30˚F and this.....

Considering how much snow other parts of the country have been getting, it doesn't seem like much, except that we hate snow. One of the reason we moved out of the Okanagan was the amount of snow that fell. Of course every winter we have lived in Oregon we've gotten snow. Some years more than others. Sure it looks all pretty, but only until the roads turn a slushy brown and most people in Oregon cannot seem to drive in it.

As the sun came up (somewhere behind those clouds) it became lighter and I was able to take a picture without using the flash.

(Poor little fireplace, ready to go)

It was decided that Troubadour shouldn't ride to work that morning so he took the car and dropped me off at the office on the way. We sold his truck a few years ago as it had become a lawn ornament since he rode everyday.

The weather service was saying to expect flurries off and on all day with highs in the mid 30's. By noon the sun had come out with not a cloud in the sky. The roads were all clear but remained wet. We didn't have anything on our calendar at the office Thursday afternoon so my boss drove me home about 1:30 or so.

The yard looked like this by 2:00 pm.

The temperatures were to dip into the 20's Thursday night and we were worried the roads might be slick Friday morning. We woke to 23˚F yesterday morning but the roads were dry. Troubadour road the Tiger to work, which made him a happy camper after having to take the car for two days.

I left for work just after him and stopped by the post office on my way to the office. I got back in the car and started it, but when I put it into reverse, it stalled out. I thought it was odd and maybe I didn't quite have it in reverse, but between gears. Put it back in park, turned it off and tried starting it once again. It tried to turn over but would not start.

I was not a impressed. It was 23˚ outside, I was parking in a 15 minutes parking spot and my 2007 Nissan with only 36,000 miles on it had left me stranded. I quickly realized my cell phone was at home on the charger. Bollocks. We have AMA membership but the phone number and membership number are programmed into my cell phone.

I gathered my things, wrote a quick note to leave on the dash, "Car won't start, waiting for tow truck, please don't ticket." I walked the almost 3 blocks to work wishing I had worn a warmer coat. Got there, cursed and swore some more, and called Troubadour and left him a voice mail to call me when he got to work.

Troubadour to the rescue. He took the shop truck from work and came and picked me up to see if it would start. He tried and it started right up. I went to put it in reverse and nothing. Stepped on the gas pedal but petrol was not flowing where it needed to go. More bad words were said. A lot more. He called AMA and they had a flat bed tow truck out within 20 minutes. While waiting I called the local Nissan dealer and gave them a heads up.

We have read on the internet that Versas have a lot of trouble with fuel filters and were expecting that was the problem. The guy I talked to on the phone at Nissan asked me if there was a light that came on on the dash while trying to start it that looked like a car with a key shape inside it. I told him I had no idea. (Little did I know he'd just diagnosed the problem - must happen often)

We followed the tow truck to the dealer, checked it in and Troubadour took me to work then hurried back to his work. Once again my boss was nice and drove me home. He even bought lunch first. It was another gorgeous sunny day, which was starting to warm up. I think we actually hit 35˚F yesterday.

Nissan called me about 3:30 and let me know it was the BCM - body control module. It faulted due to an immobilizer error in the system. Apparently the car was not recognizing our keys. WTF? The keys unlocked the car and initially started the car. The same keys we've had for almost 4 years. Turns out we need a new BCM and the fix, including parts and labor, is $480. Ouch. Of course it came with a 36 month/36,000 mile warranty. We've had the car 4 years next month so that did us no good. At least the darn thing is paid for.

More ranting and raving and bad words were said. Not to the service person who called, but after I got off the phone. You know, when I found out the part won't be in until Tuesday and that the Nissan tech is out until Thursday. They are also a VW and Volvo dealer but those technicians cannot install the Nissan part.

As a result we are on two wheels until next Friday at the earliest. Wouldn't be too bad except we woke up to a balmy 15˚F this morning (-9.4˚C). It was a chilly ride to Saturday morning coffee. I felt like the Michelin man in all my layers. I opted to ride pillion with Troubadour, as I knew it would be warmer than me on the TU. Not only does he make a great windscreen, but I can also hide my hands between us so they don't get too cold while in my gloves.

The snow is slowly melting. It is supposed to get up to 38˚ this afternoon and 50˚ and rain tomorrow. Weather report states there is over 2 inches of rain on the way. Of course there is. It will be a wet commute to work this week. I don't like getting all geared up for a three mile ride in the morning, but we do what we must. At least they don't have to use gravel in the rain. Hopefully they have already started sweeping up the tons of it they used this week.

Sure wish I had that Gladius to ride. Oh well. This gives me at least another week to say my goodbyes to the TU.

Hope everyone gets out for a ride, weather permitting.

- Au Revoir

"Every path hath a puddle." ~ George Herbert, 'Jacula Prudentum'

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Trying to be patient....

I am trying to be patient, waiting for the Gladius recall to be fixed so we can pick it up. Have been checking out the Gladius forums and looking at all the farkles and mods people seem to be doing.

So, rather than boring everyone with that, I thought I'd post up a gratuitous food post.

Yesterday was President's Day here in the USA. I was lucky enough to have the day off because the Courts were closed, but Troubadour had to work. I went in to the office and did an hour or so of work while it was quiet and then went to a hair appointment for a cut (hadn't had one since October). I knew I had to put it up in a ponytail to cook dinner so I took a picture in the mirror to show Troubadour when he got home. The face under the helmet.....

(C'est moi - I'm never without my Oakleys)

After that I ran a few errands and went home and did a few hours of yard clean up. We have some tall grasses out front that needed to be cut down for spring as well as some Autumn Joy Sedums that needed deadheading. After 2 hours of using the Felco pruners my right hand was so sore (and still is). The yard looked better though. Was nice to get out and enjoy some sunshine.

I had a few minutes to putter on the computer and then it was time to start dinner. When I have the day off and Troubadour works I usually have extra time to prepare a nice dinner that is more time consuming than our usual weeknight fare.

I opted for a Ratatouille of sorts. About 3 years ago I found a recipe on the net and have modified it to suit our tastes. I like to make it during the cooler months as it is nice for a chilly day. While this is not a traditional Ratatouille recipe by any means, it is still one of our favorites. If I had of been thinking, I would have gathered all the ingredients together and taken a picture before I started.... next time.

First you take 1 eggplant (aubergine) and chop it and cook it with a little water and salt until it is soft.

(chopped eggplant in frying pan)

I also add at least 3-4 garlic cloves into the mixture when almost done as well as a teaspoon or so of Herbes de Provence. Once cooked, I spoon it into a large casserole dish I have sprayed with olive oil.

Then sprinkle the eggplant layer with Celtic sea salt and fat free feta cheese.

(Celtic Sea Salt - did I really need to label it?)

If you don't like eggplant, I am sure you could substitute some other yummy vegetable.

(cooked eggplant mixture in casserole dish)

There is a lot of slicing involved in this recipe. I am lucky enough to have a nice Microplane mandolin I was given for my birthday a few years ago. It makes the job easier as well as keeps the veggie slices uniform in thickness.

(the mandolin)

Slice 2 zucchini and layer on top of the eggplant mixture. Sprinkle with the sea salt and feta. (I took the pictures prior to the feta and sea salt so that the layers would show better. And yes I do layer it like that even when not taking pictures)

(zucchini layer sans salt & feta)

Slice 1 white onion (I used a Mayan sweet) and layer on top of the zucchini. Sprinkle with sea salt and feta.

(onion layer sans salt & feta)

Slice 4-5 large brown crimini mushrooms and layer on top of onion. Sprinkle with salt and feta.

(mushroom layer sans salt & feta)

Slice 1 green pepper and layer on top of mushrooms. Sprinkle with salt and feta.

(green pepper layer sans salt & feta)

For the top layer, chop 5-6 large roma tomatoes and layer on top of green peppers. Sprinkle with salt and feta.

It looks like the following pictures when assembly is complete:

Place uncovered in a 350˚ oven for 45 minutes. The aroma while it is cooking is wonderful. While the veggies are cooking you can fix rice or couscous to accompany it. With the juice produced in cooking it is nice to have something to go with it. I usually use couscous but chose to serve it with a Bhutanese Red Rice I found at our local Market of Choice. It takes about 45 minutes to cook so was timed just right.

(bowl of cooked Bhutanese red rice - still steaming)

After 45 minutes remove the Ratatouille from oven and let rest for a few minutes before serving. The vegetables will be al dente cooked in the oven, as opposed to turning to mush when cooked in a frying pan.

You will notice that the level of veggies has dropped about 1" while cooking. There will be juice that has pooled in the bottom. You can either scoop it and serve it with the veggies onto the rice and/or couscous or save it for another dish that needs veggie stock.

For those not watching your carbohydrates, it is great served with a loaf of crusty warm French bread. If you are a meat eater you might rather have this as a side dish rather than a main course.

Here is a picture of the finished product.

(ready to serve Ratatouille)

And my plate before I started eating. Keep in mind these are salad plates, we don't use dinner plates so it isn't as much food as you think.

(ready to dig in)

And the casserole dish after dinner.

(enough for left overs the next night or lunch the next day)

If you want to make this dish the shopping list is as follows: 1 eggplant, 2 zucchinis, 1 large onion, 4-5 brown mushrooms, 1 green pepper, 5-6 large roma tomatoes, sea salt, feta cheese (I use fat free) Just remember to cook uncovered for 45 minutes at 350˚.

And on a side note Basil decided to hang out on the back of a chair and supervise the preparation and cooking. The chair is fairly close to the prep island in the kitchen so he wasn't too far away. He likes to lay in the corner as his belly hangs down into an opening where the cushion meets the arm and back of the chair. He pushes the cushion out to make room.

(Squire Basil - not looking amused)


-Au Revoir

"“You will never get out of pot or pan anything fundamentally better than what went into it. Cooking is not alchemy; there is no magic in the pot.” -'Dishes & Beverages Of The Old South', Martha McCulloch-Williams (1913)

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Almost , Not Quite

We planned on going to the Portland Metro area today to look at motorcycles. The question was, should we ride two up on the Tiger and then if we found a new bike for me I could ride it home, or should we take the car and put gear in the trunk, just in case.

One look at the evergreen trees swaying in the breeze in the back yard and how low the snow levels were had us voting for option two. The car it was.

We went to Saturday morning coffee to meet the crew. There were eleven of us and one even rode up from Eugene just to have coffee with the group. Brrr. We stayed a little later than anticipated and headed out about 11:30. With a cold wind blowing from the East we were glad we opted for the car.

These two pics were taken in Corvallis this morning as we were leaving coffee. It shows how low the snow was in the foothills of the Coastal mountains to the west.

We drove to Salem and stopped at Sushi Kyo for lunch. After that we decided to stop at Cycle Country in Salem, which is the Suzuki/Honda dealer. They had one black Gladius in stock but it was buried under a big shelf so we wandered a few minutes and just left. It is a fairly small shop so there wasn't much to see.

Back onto I-5 towards Portland. For some reason there was a lot of traffic today, not sure why. Maybe due to the long weekend.

Mount Hood was showing itself in all it's snowy splendor. I took the following pic. It isn't in great focus, but we were doing about 70 mph and it was through the car window.

Finally we arrived in Beaverton and went directly to Bob Lanphere's Beaverton Motorcycle. Home of Suzuki, Honda, Yamaha, and Kawasaki. They are a large dealership with a lot of bikes in the showroom and quite a bit of accessories and gear too. I don't know if she mentioned dealer names but you might know it from Bluekat's adventures when her son bought a bike a week or so ago. It was the same dealer.

We wandered back to where we had last seen the Gladius. Uh oh, there was only a black one. I was starting to get worried as I had called on Thursday and was assured they did in fact have a blue and white one in stock. We each took a turn sitting on the black one. Turning the key on and playing with the switches.

Finally we talked to a salesman named Dan. Turns out he was the same salesman I'd talked to on the phone. He assured me they did in fact still have the blue and white one, but they were unable to sell either of them. Doh! Turns out Suzuki issued a rectifier recall yesterday. Doh! The parts won't be in until March 3rd and then they still have to install the replacement.

So we hummed and hawed and went and looked at gear and tried on helmets. I was looking to try on a Fulmer helmet we'd seen at Eagle Leathers when we were coming back from the motorcycle show. It is the only one I'd ever seen that had retro reflective painted graphics over the whole helmet. They make it in one model. The M1 Modular Flamethrower Trident FTT. behold.....

The helmet on the left is without direct lighting and on the right is it's reflective properties with direct lighting such as headlamps from opposing traffic or traffic coming up behind you at night. I don't know why every helmet manufacturer does not use this on every helmet made. Hi-vis doesn't work well at night, but this does.

It looked awesome when we saw it in person and their website claimed Bob's was a dealer. We didn't see any Fulmer helmets at all so we asked a salesman. Sure enough there were some on the bottom of a rack. Not in Flamethrower but they did have other modulars. My Scorpion is a size medium and a little loose, my old HJC was a small and a little tight in the jaw. He had me try on a small and it was too big. Go figure. I did find it lighter than my Scorpion but the modular feature felt clunky. My Scorpion is only two years old and to tighten it up I just put my ponytail higher up on my head. Snugs it up quite a bit, no new helmet needed.

We wandered enough and talked about bike options. Wondered if they would match the price of the dealer in Salem. We decided the Gladius had all the goodies on it that I wanted/needed and that I really didn't need to spend $4,000 more just to have a Triumph. That's right, when it came to the voices doing battle in my head, the referee won. Fiscal responsibility made Want and Need shake hands and play nice. A hybrid of the two ruled the day.

We decided if they'd match the price of Salem ($2k under MSRP) we'd put down a deposit so no one else could buy it and we'd pick it up in two weeks after the recall work was complete.

We went to find Dan. He showed us where the white and blue one was hiding on the floor. Troubadour agreed with me it is much more striking than the black. We had another chance to sit on it and turn the key and play a bit. We were not offered a test ride and did not ask for one. We know it's reputation via the SV 650 and it has a good warranty.

Time to negotiate. At first Dan stated their listed price was with the $1,000 cash coupon from Suzuki. We begged to differ since subtracting the coupon would make it the price of the one in Salem. He asked us if we had a print out of Salem's price. We did and we gave it to him. He in turn took it to his manager. Manager said yes to matching the price.

We crunched other numbers. He said they had to add over $700 for freight and PDI (pre-deliver inspection)/bike build. Troubadour told him we'd pay the agreed on matching price with no extra charges, playing on the 'guaranteed sale' aspect. He took that to his manager and the manager said yes.

About 10 minutes later we wrote him a check for the deposit, signed some paperwork, made him promise to take it off the floor so the sammich grabbers couldn't play on it and scratch it and off we went.

Did we get a bike today.... almost, not quite. We made the decision and that has taken a lot off my mind. Was hoping to take it for a ride tomorrow but it wasn't meant to be....yet.

I am happy with the decision and also like some of the features it has that I don't think the Triple has, such as 4-way hazard flashers, gear indicator and a fuel reserve tripometer.

Troubadour has decided it looks so much like a Ducati Monster 696 with it's trellis frame that we need to remove the Gladius badging and have a sticker made that says "Ducopi", since Suzuki appears to have copied some of the styling. I did find a picture online that shows the Gladius and the Monster 696 together. Reviews claim Suzuki was targeting the Monster crowd when it designed the Gladius.

I think the Gladius combines the styling I liked in the Monster with some characteristics of the Triple at a price I can live with and with reasonable maintenance costs. It is a good compromise and I am looking forward to many miles of riding when we bring it home.

Since it was $4k less than a Triple, does than mean I get to buy some farkles? First on the list - heated grips, although Troubadour thinks those mirrors really need to be replaced by some bar-end mirrors stat.

-Au Revoir

"You have to leave the city of your comfort and go into the wilderness of your intuition. What you'll discover will be wonderful. What you'll discover is yourself." ~ Alan Alda

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Abundance of Used Older Bikes

Having spent hours and hours scouring the Craigslist ads for our local area, the State of Oregon and even neighboring States, I have come to the conclusion that there is a plethora of older bikes coming out of the woodwork. I think the sunny days we've had in the Pacific Northwest have had people cleaning out garages. Maybe it is due to the economy, who knows.

I thought I would share some of the bikes I've found. Some are smaller cc and some are larger. Some are really neat, some maybe not so much. All of these listings I noticed within the last few days.

Here is a little Honda CL350 someone is selling in the Portland area. Not sure it is worth the $1,500 asking price though.....

For those people looking for a hobby and that like to wrench there is always a 1969 Maico. Apparently it does not run and has been sitting outside for quite a few years, but it can be yours for $900.

For the price of $3,000 you could be the proud owner of a vintage 1966 Vespa 150cc scooter. The ad claims it has a new motor installed.

Scooters not to your liking...... how about a 1977 Yamaha Champ80. Apparently this bike has had only two owners both in the same family. It is a 4-speed automatic that has never been down and has no dents or dings. It has 1,156 miles on the odometer and can be yours for $1,350.

Not enough power you say? What a bout a 1973 Honda CB500 four with 6,900 miles on it. It has both electric and kick start and can be yours for $1,800.

There seem to be a lot of Hondas out there for sale. Here is a 1966 Honda CT 90 Trail bike for sale. It is supposedly all original and can be had for $1,200.

Interested in something sportier? How about a 1984 Honda Interceptor VF1000F. Said to be flawless, all original and has 13,000 miles on the odometer and the asking price is $3,900.

And now for something completely different..... a 1979 Kawasaki KZ650C. Only 25,000 miles on the odometer all for the price of $1,400.

...or a 1975 Yamaha XS650. The ad doesn't say how many miles are on it. It does say it is complete, but does not run. You can still pick it up for only $600.

I wonder if this 1972 Suzuki TC125 could be the predecessor to my TU 250? The seller is asking $950 or looking to trade for a 49cc scooter.

For the Triumph fans there is even a 1972 Triumph Daytona 500. Mostly original condition (I'm guessing new paint) for $5200. Ah, the price you pay for vintage. Wonder if it has electric gremlins?

.... or the 1968 Triumph T100C. This is apparently a numbers matching bike for $3,000.

... or a 1967 Triumph Mountain Cub. This sweet looking ride is only $3,500. No idea of how many miles are on it.

Seems to be a lot out there for sale right now. Everything from not so bad, to real fixer uppers to snazzy old Triumphs. What kind of treasures or trash can you find for sale in your area?

On a side note regarding my hunt for a new ride.... we, and when I say we I mean Troubadour, discovered a Craigslist ad this morning from the Suzuki dealer in Salem. They have a brand new 2009 Gladius they are blowing out for $2,000 under MSRP. Now that tempts me even though it is black and not the white/blue combination I like. I still love the Street Triple but with the Gladius I can get into a new bike with basically the same ergos for half of the price. Now I have want v. need battling it out in my head with fiscal responsibility trying to referee. Who will win? Oh, what a cage match it is. Maybe I can drown the voices with coffee.

-Au Revoir

"A bargain is something you can't use at a price you can't resist."~ Franklin P. Jones