Thursday, October 1, 2009
Anyhoo, after eating and finishing my final beer, I put the leather back on and rode home. About halfway to the house, I began regretting my choice of open-fingered, warm weather gloves, as my fingertips became almost numb from the wind chill that my riding created. With my stiff digits, working the clutch was -- well -- a challenge, to say the least. I let it out sloppily, almost laying an unintentional "patch" of burnt rubber behind me at one stop sign. Glad there was no cop around, to witness that. And my right hand, on the front brake, wasn't much more capable, as I nearly stood myself on my head twice, when stopping. Most of any bike's stopping power is in that front brake, so a little goes a long way, unless you have half-frozen hands!
But I kept on keeping on and soon was rumbling into the alleyway behind the Dawg House. I stopped just before I reached my rear driveway and began fumbling in my tank bag for the garage door opener I stash in it. I found the opener okay, got it out, aimed it, more or less, at the door and mashed the button with my stiff fingers. Nothing happened. Too many trees, dog enclosures, and other junk in the way, blocking the signal from the controller. So, I raised the thing overhead and mashed it again. This time I saw the interior lights I had left on, as the door started up on its tracks. Now, to put the opener away, so I could ride up the driveway and into the garage. Couldn't get the tank bag to cooperate, with my cold-stiffened fingers. Not to mention the fact that I was doing it one-handed, as my left hand was still squeezing the clutch lever the entire time. And I was also holding the controller in my right hand at the same time I was fumbling around with the bag.
Well, dinkus-dang, I exclaimed (NOT my exact words!) I fumbled around on my jacket, but in the position I was sitting in, it was nearly impossible to jam the controller into a pocket. So, I tried to hold it against the handgrip with my left thumb, still holding the clutch in, to free up my right hand, so I could get that dad-blamed pouch in my tank bag open! And then, naturally, I dropped the controller. It hit the ground in the blackness under the bike and I saw the battery compartment lid pop off and land next to my front wheel. Well, fiddle-dee-dee (again not my exact words!!) Golly darn it all (ditto)!!
I hit the "kill" switch on the right handlebar, swung the kickstand out, sat Miss Velvet down in the dark alley, and got off of her. Picked up the battery door and put that in my pocket, then began looking around for the rest of the controller in the darkness. No flashlight, of course, and the headlight wasn't much help at all. Didn't find it and by now, my allergies were stopping my head up from bending over for so long to search. I gave up, swung my leg over the saddle, re-started Velvet, and swung into the driveway and on into the garage, where I parked her, then got rid of my helmet and leathers.
A few minutes after that, I was in my trusty pick-em-up truck, driving around back, to the alley. I went down it slowly and spotted the missing controller at last. I was glad to see that I hadn't run over it with the bike, at least. I opened the garage door, then closed it again, insuring that the controller still worked okay. I stashed the controller in the truck, pulled some deadfall branches out of my back driveway, then went back around front and parked the truck where I usually do.
Moral of story: Next time I'm wearing full-fingered gloves. Bet on it!!!
Monday, August 17, 2009
And so, we choke. This –- the rainiest and most unseasonably cool summer I've seen in years – has finally turned HOT!! Miserable hot. Steamy, humid, sauna-like hot that'll take your breath away. Humidity around 750%, or so it feels. Very hard on someone like me, with lung disease, because I think you're breathing in as much water vapor as you are air!!! Now in late summer, these conditions are what my Granny always called, "Dog Days."
And, of course, the air conditioning here at the Dawg House goes on the blink, barely cooling at all. And I had to buy a portable room air conditioner, which is hooked up in my bedroom, so at least I can sleep comfortably at night. The rest of the house is cooled, more or less, by three fans, running at medium to high speed at all times. I'm making it, but it's definitely NO FUN!!
I can't afford to have my HVAC system repaired right now and I'm not even sure it can BE fixed. It's an antique dinosaur of a system, having been initially installed in the mid-1980's and it's all but outlived its usefulness completely. It needs to be jacked up, moved aside, and a new HVAC system put in to replace it. The A/C part of it uses (or "used," past-tense) the old R-22 refrigerant (which the EPA has now outlawed completely, all due to the phony ozone scare back in the late 80's, which turned out to be another hoax, like the so-called "man-made global warming" crap that they're still trying to con us all with today.) The result is that I can't get the stuff my A/C uses and I don't know if it's even compatible with the stuff that replaced R-22 or not. If it involves an expensive conversion to the new stuff, forget it. It'd be cheaper to just replace the whole enchilada, in the long term.
My natural gas furnace works, at least. But it's ancient history, too, and now that I'm home all the time and won't be turning it down to save money every week, as I was when I was on the road, I shudder to think of what my bill might be like about January of next year. The furnace is old, too, and is held together with baling wire and duct tape, where I've performed various 'surgeries" on it in the past, to keep it going. Will it last another winter?? I don't know at all. KUB, our local electric/gas/water utility here, will finance a new system for me, I've learned, but they add it to my bill, and with no or little income right now, I can't afford a $300 - $400 bill every month until it's paid off.
I don't want to draw out the rest of my 401K money, but it looks like I might be forced to, if I am unable to find some kind of work I can physically do without gasping for breath and tiring myself out after ten minutes. I could take some of that and pay for a new system, I suppose.
Going to be making a decision on that very soon. You do what you have to do, when your back is to the wall.
In spite of my financial and household woes right now, I had an inspiring moment last week. I was sitting out on my front porch after dark one night, enjoying the cool breeze out there and taking in some fresh air, when a little spider caught my eye. It was busily at work, doing what spiders do – building its web, from the branches of a shrub in front of my house, to the wrought iron railing on the porch. For some reason, I grew fascinated watching it; that little fellow (or gal) was more interesting right then than anything that was on TV. The street light that was illuminating the critter's efforts served as well as any spotlight could have done.
I marveled at the spider's patience, as it descended on a super-fine string of web and the wind caught it, blowing it to and fro. The spider never gave up. It bided its time until the breeze faded and it could light on the railing and attach that strand of its web. The human word, "quit" was never programmed into its genetic code at all. I think I watched my little friend for an hour, as it wove part of its web right before my eyes, and I was very careful when I finally got up and went back inside, careful not to disturb the web and destroy all the hard work that creature had done. I know many people sweep away a spider's web, as I have myself, but not on this night. It was live and let live and that spider got a free pass from me. Why should I mess with such a marvelous little miracle from God??
Now I know that there are some people in this world who don't believe in the living God that I do. There are people who flatly deny that such a Supreme Being and Master Designer exists. They seem to think that this intricate universe and our planet, with its teeming life, just got here by some cosmic accident somehow. To that I say, "baloney." Let them go run the numbers on that premise sometime and they'll see that the odds against such a random happening are so astronomical as to be laughable. You wouldn't bet your next paycheck on those odds, unless you enjoy giving your money away!!
Some folks refuse to believe in God because they can't see Him, therefore, they think, how can God exist?? To them I would say that if they can't see God, then they aren't really looking for Him. Want to see God? Then just look at a spider, as I did that night last week. He is right there, living in that tiny creature that He created. A spider is an insect with no real brain at all – just a bunch of nerve endings. But hardwired into that creature is a code – a code that tells that spider exactly what to do and how to do it. Think that code got there by some sheer accident?? That's crap. God put that code in the spider when He created it, along with everything else on this planet and in this universe. Just observe that spider, non-believer. You are observing God in the form of one of His amazing creations. Let's see some scientist create anything like that spider in a laboratory!
God is all around us. All we have to do is look for Him.
Monday, July 20, 2009
I've always maintained that there are two varieties of cast-off belongings. There is "junk," and then there is "junque." The former belongs in a trash can, but the latter is recyclable, in that it can be fixed, repaired, reused, transformed, or sold to someone else, so that they can use it. Junk is quicky out of sight and out of mind, while junque tends to hang around for years and clutter up one's garage, attic, storage closets, or junque drawers. This accumulates until a person is forced to deal with it, or be pushed out of their living spaces by the accumulation.
This is where the idea of the Flea Market originated. A place where people can gather together and sell or trade their junque to one another. No, I don't pretend to know how it got that curious name – I've never yet seen anyone selling fleas at one of those things, so it appears to make no logical sense at all. I suppose someone just stuck a name on it because they had to name it something. Ya reckon?
You can spend hours and days on end wandering around a general flea market, because everything you could ever imagine is on sale there, and for rock-bottom prices. Three, four, and five buck items abound and you can half-fill a shopping cart for twenty-five or thirty dollars. Vendors, or those who sell stuff at flea markets nickle and dime you to death, but the money can accumulate very quickly, if you have stuff people are interested in. Some people make a living at this, investing in their junque at neighborhood yard sales, factory close-outs, buying up damaged goods, etc., and then reselling the stuff for a song. Not much markup here; it's the quantity you can sell that makes you the money, not big profit on each item.
Others, like Yours Truly, take a turn at vendoring in order to clean out their habitats of accumulated junque every now and then, in order to maintain enough open space in the house to turn around when you need to. This was why I found myself at a Bike Swap Meet on Saturday, selling some accumulated junque off the tailgate of my trusty Chevy pick-'em-up truck. A swap meet is another word for flea market, only it's a specific type of flea market, aimed strictly at the biker/motorcycle market. Most everything sold at one is related to motorcycling in some manner.
In two years of personalizing Miss Velvet, my beloved Harley Sportster, I had experimented quite a bit before deciding firmly on the direction I have now taken. I also had a helmet I wasn't wearing and a nice leather jacket that I shrunk out of when I lost some weight. I since bought a smaller size one, as the old one would require a set of football player's shoulder pads worn beneath it, in order to make the sleeves fit me properly. Why the makers of that clothing seem to think everyone with a larger belly is also 6' 5" tall is beyond me, but I ain't but 5' 8" and I don't have arms like a gorilla, so it has to go. However, it is in such pristine shape that it's worth a serious penny or two (and I'm not talking $5 here, either!!!)
So, accordingly, I gathered everything up (forgetting and leaving two or three things at home, naturally), paid my registration fee and drove over to the Harley shop early Saturday morning, to get my space assignment and set up my wares. Below is the first thing that greeted me, as I drove onto the lot:
I got my assignment and headed for the vendor area:
I nosed into the space I was assigned, then got out and began arranging my meager box of items on my tailgate. I think it took me all of five minutes.
Once set up, I made my first sale, for five dollars, within just a few minutes. I sold a belt buckle -- to another vendor. Yeah, they buy from each other, too, to get merchandise to re-sell themselves. Everyone around me was still setting up and most of them had much more to offer than I did. I walked around for awhile, looking at the kinds of things that they were offering and helping them, here and there, if they asked me to.
One fine-looking lady, whom I judged to be somewhere in her mid-forties, kept smiling at me in a certain manner and I, of course, returned the smile, whenever I could, and glancing admiringly at her cute figure and shapely posterior from time to time. Her hubby was with her, off and on, but they didn't seem to get along too well, as they seemed to be arguing with each other when they were together. She did most all of the sales work while he just disappeared for long spells of time. I don't know where he went, and didn't care, really, because the attraction between me and his wife was obviously mutual. I didn't, of course, want to get myself involved in a marital spat, so I kept my distance and just admired her visually.
They left early, about an hour before I pulled up my own stakes and pulled out. She packed most of the stuff up, with him helping only with the heavier items. But before they left, with him already in the car, she walked past me, deliberately, I believe, and went around to the food vendor, to get her a soda. As she passed me she grinned and gave me a look that plainly said: "Some other time, some other place, if he's not with me . . ." Now, let me tell you all that I have never been involved with a married woman before, but this one – well, I have to confess that I'd be sorely tempted!!! That's about all I can say about it, except that I'll always wonder what might have gone down on Saturday if she'd been there alone??
It ended when the rain clouds moved in overhead. The crowd had been small anyway, all morning long. It was the first sunny weekend we'd had in what seems like ages and I guess everyone was out on the lake, or up in the mountains, enjoying life and leisure. As it turned out later, it never did actually rain, but those clouds were mean-looking, just like a storm was moving in on top of us. I packed up and left after selling an amazing $23 dollars worth of stuff. I still have the helmet and jacket and another vendor told me I might have better luck selling the jacket when it gets closer to fall and cooler weather. It's probably going to be hard to sell anyway, because it's so big (size 5X), but I'll keep trying, and might even put it on Ebay, if need be.
There was another swap meet on Sunday, in another part of town, but I didn't end up going to that one. It was at Biker Rags, in the west end, but they hold those swap meets almost every month in warm weather, so I'll get down there later on toward fall and try my luck again. But I know now where to head, if I need anything motorcycle-related and want to get the absolute best price on it!
Monday, July 6, 2009
I took a leisurely holiday ride on Miss Velvet on Saturday, the Fourth of July. Had her little American flag flapping in the wind, strapped to her sissy bar with electrical zip-ties, and had my stars and stripes dew rag on under my helmet. It was enjoyable as it always is on a holiday weekend, when most everyone else is out on the lakes, or up in the Smokies, having fun and grilling burgers and hot dogs. Their absence in town makes traffic light and sweet, for a change, and much less of a hassle and hazard than usual. Before I knew it, I was out in the woods, riding a section of twisties that seem to be made for a motorcycle.