Saturday, July 1, 2017

Different Thinking


I was in the car this afternoon when I discovered that I think differently without the scooter.  With its being in the shop for nine weeks now, my summer just hasn’t been the same and it’s not only because I’m not out and about on two wheels, but because everything looks and feels different than it typically would this time of year when I’d usually be running all over the place on the bike and doing some of my best thinking.

There are places I go to regularly on the Piaggio that it wouldn’t even cross my mind to visit in the car.  The county park.  A favorite boat launch along the Susquehanna.  The various back roads and byways I love to ride because of the curves, or the scenery, or the smell of fresh cut clover and cow manure.  The out of the way bakeries, pizza joints, and bistro type places where it just feels so good to plant the kickstand and grab a bite of something delicious.  The little secluded spots with picnic tables where I can write e-mails or Facebook posts or blog entries.  They just wouldn’t be worth going to on four wheels because they’d feel like alien landscapes rather than my hallowed scooter haunts.

I’ve been missing out on a lot of the kind of introspection that comes when I’m alone in the middle of nowhere with the sun on my shoulders and the wind in my face, experiencing a lot of the things that make the summer special for me.   It’s mostly the thoughts that I miss, though.  The questions that I often ask myself with the hum of the scooter’s engine the only sound around for miles in places where a passing car is less likely to be seen than a barn somewhere struggling to hold itself together and some stray horses idly doing their horsey kinds of things in their fields.   And even worse than not being able to ask the questions is the inability to answer them and to make any progress with heading my life in a particular direction now.

 
The last time I saw my scooter, it looked like this.  It feels like my spirit is likewise apart and waiting to be reassembled.  I really need my bike back!
 

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

In the Lap of Luxury


The Chinese buffet I visited last week was different in that you select your fortune cookie from a big box near the exit.  Since no Chinese meal is complete without seeing one’s “fortune” spelled out on that small wisp of paper at the end, my hand dipped into the box to grab a cookie on my way out the door, and I tore open the plastic wrapper on my way to the car and didn’t crack open the crisp cookie until I was already seat belted in and nearly ready to roll.  There it was!  My “fortune!”  


 Well my first thought was, Yeah.  Right!, when I saw, “You will be surrounded by luxury," right there, blue on white.  With nowhere else to put it I dropped the paper into the small well on the car door that’s there for you to put your fingers in when you’re closing the door and without thinking exchanged it for one of the plastic toothpicks I keep handy there for picking, among other things, the remnants of large clams from my front teeth after a visit to the Chinese buffet.

When I got home I grabbed the small paper from the door handle well and brought it into the house, and as per my usual custom I laid it here on the computer desk.  To be certain, I have no idea why I do that with those little fortune slips, but I’ve been doing it since I can’t remember when.  They’ll sit here collecting dust with my eyes falling on them dozens of times before each one eventually gets tossed into the trash without ceremony.  I pay them no heed, never pretending that they have the least bit of magic, but now and then I do get one that gives me some cause to pause and take stock.

You will be surrounded by luxury.

I don’t know how many times I glanced at this one and scoffed, but it sat here collecting my derision like a dandelion collecting dewdrops in the morning haze for at least a week before I photographed it and tossed it away.  I suspect that in taking a picture of it I knew somewhere in the back of my mind I wasn’t quite done processing it yet, but no thoughts had coalesced before I got tired of looking at it.  It wasn’t until this morning that I gave the words any thought, and when I did I realized that they were at the very least some food for thought and blog post fodder.

My maternal grandfather is often my measuring stick in life.  He was my first hero and hardly a day goes by since I lost him to cancer when I was 11 that I don’t think of him in some way, usually with a large smile or a broad grin.  He was a “character” long before the USA Network touted the inclusivity of such folks with their, “Characters welcome,” slogan.  He had a sly and wry sense of humor, and I believe it was he who taught me by example the simple joy of embracing life and wringing from it every last bit of happiness and mirth that could be gotten from it.

I think of him in light of, “You will be surrounded by luxury,” and I find it hard to grasp that many of the luxuries I enjoy on a daily basis, my dear grandfather never knew.  The only style of telephone he ever knew was the old black bakelite rotary standard.  He never even dreamed of something coming like the computer.  And, although they existed at the time, my dear Gramps never rode a scooter.  He was the kind of guy who went to work in a dress shirt and tie and didn’t take them off till he went to bed.  How I’d love to be able to go back and get him on the back of the Piaggio to let his always perfectly combed hair fly in the breeze.  I think it would repay him at least in some small part for all the magic he gave to me in his simple lessons about life that weren’t lessons at all, but just the simple love of a man for his grandchild made manifest each day with the simple luxuries of the times that he had available to him.

I suppose, when we consider the past, we’re all surrounded by luxury.  Although sometimes I lament that I’ll be gone from this earth before even cooler and more amazing things come down the pike, all I really need to do to appreciate how far we’ve come is to look at my cell phone and imagine what my grandpop would have thought to see such a thing back when luxury to me meant a sip of his beer and a nibble of cheese while watching Lawrence Welk on a Saturday night and smelling the chicken soup simmering in the kitchen for the appetizer before Sunday dinner.

Surrounded by luxury?  I've always been.  I am.  No mansion, no yacht, but appreciative of all I have, which is the best luxury of all.

Monday, May 22, 2017

...And Into the Fire


“...And Into the Fire,” is this post’s title because the last was the terribly presumptuous, “Out of the Shop,” which was decidedly short lived.

To be certain, the troubles aren’t the fault of Mike at the shop.  When I picked the scooter up last week it seemed that everything was hunky dory, but before I got home I realized that things were neither hunky nor dory because the bike was running hot which was not one of the problems it had when I took it in.  Like THIS hot...


What neither of us realized, also, was that the radiator fan wasn’t coming on when the needle went into the red zone.  And, after it was parked under the deck for a while, the coolant leak was back with a vengeance in spite of having been as dry as a popcorn fart when I got it home.  Mike thought what he’d done might only be a temporary fix, and unfortunately, he was right. 


 I took it back up last Thursday evening and hung around the shop for a few hours with Mike, the owner, and his cronies, Ed, Phil, and Pat while they worked on various bikes and busted each others’ asses unmercifully to my general amusement.  What we decided to keep it simple was that Mike would put on a temporary bypass fan switch that I could toggle externally when needed.  It worked!  But, the fan didn’t do a thing running constantly once the needle went past the end of the red zone again  on my way home.


 Tomorrow I’ll run it back up to the shop early in the morning while it’s still cool out to try to keep the engine cool while I get there.  After that God knows how long it’s going to be till the parts come in and Mike gets a chance to work on it.

It’s my usual luck.  When I first took the scooter into the shop four weeks ago, I told Mike about my horror story from last year when my old dealership’s shop kept it for five weeks during May into June.  Mike thought he’d have me done in a few days.  Here I am now looking at another shortened scootering season because it’ll likely be longer than those five weeks this year until it’s back and humming along.

Not quite the Look at how much fun I’m having on my scooter! kind of post that I’d hoped to have been sharing here at all.  I’ll try to stay upbeat and not let the aggravation get to me totally.  And I’ll try to put some things here for my two followers to read that maybe, kind of, perhaps I can relate even a little to the general scooter theme.