Saturday, October 31, 2009

Father of the Bride

In a few hours I'll become something I've never been before - "Father of the Bride!"  Not just for Halloween, but for the forever kind of real.

So often I was asked in the past few months, "Are you ready?"  What could I say?  How does one get ready to cut off his arm?  To rip out his heart?  To give up a significant and substantial part of himself?

I couldn't wait for this day to come for her sake, and for his - the man who will be her husband and my son-in-law.  But, how sorry I feel for myself as I take on this role that I've only seen other men assume before. 

I want to make it down that aisle and to dance with her to "Daddy's Little Girl" without becoming a blubbering fool, but if I do, so be it.  I cried like there would be no end to my tears on the day she came into this world and a nurse put her into my arms.  Would it be so bad if I did the same as I put her into the arms of the man she loves, to be his wife?

Friday, October 30, 2009

Halloween Being

No school kid ever asks a teacher, "Are you wearing a costume for Halloween?" He invariably asks, "What are you being for Halloween?"

This year, I'm being something I've never been before. I'll be sporting a "costume" I've looked forward to wearing for many years, yet at the same time dreaded. I'll give you a day to take your best guess as to what I'm being.

Tomorrow I'll take my costume out of the bag and show you.

(Susan, no fair guessing 'cause you already know!)

Wednesday, October 21, 2009


I travel about an hour to get my hair cut these days. The woman who cuts it was a kid in my class in my rookie year of teaching. Out of the 30 so of them she was the least likely to have become a friend of mine many years later, yet friends we are and I enjoy visiting with her and her family every time I made the trip to get sheared. When I was there last evening her husband remarked that they were being inundated with ladybugs and I saw a few buzzing around the ceiling light in their kitchen. Today, apparently, it was our turn and I saw bunches of the little buggers here and there on the way to work and outside my classroom windows. Today as I hopped on the scooter to go to the bank I saw this stowaway settling down to take the ride with me.

As I rode along she hung on and even walked around a bit, and a few miles out, just when I thought my small rider was going to climb up onto my fingers, she spread her wings and took off. I thought at once of the morbid chant my mom would say whenever we saw a ladybug when I was a lad. "Ladybug! Ladybug! Fly away home! Your house is on fire! Your children will burn!" My curiosity about that line grew the more I thought about it, and I knew I'd have to Google it when I got back here. Not surprisingly, the big G found some references to it, and my suspicion was confirmed: it's every bit as disturbing as "Ring around the rosy" though in an insect sort of way, of course.

I saw a bunch of these things too when I went for my haircut. For the record, if I see one of them mounting the scooter with me, it's getting the boot!

Monday, October 19, 2009

Anniversary of Sorts

This past Friday came and went without any scooter fanfare.  I didn't realize it was the two year anniversary since I'd gotten the BV, but even if I had, the day's plans would have been the same and my butt wouldn't have kissed the seat of the cycle.  I did do some traveling, but in the car, and the roads looked like this...

I remember the day I traded in the Fly and got the BV.  I tend to grow unduly attached to some things, and the little scooter was one of them.  Although I never gave it a name, I felt a fondness for it that went beyond what one ought to feel for inanimate objects, and when it was time for that final ride to say goodbye to it forever the only thing that kept the lump in my throat from growing too large was the excitement of knowing that I'd be picking up the BV.

I've learned a lot about myself from that trade and from the riding I've done on both of the bikes.  I've grown more introspective in general and riding has provided a wonderful forum for those insightful visits into my own head.  I won't pretend that I know myself better now, but I do know myself differently than I did before, and I'd say in some very good ways.

I've learned of some self imposed limits, too, and I don't consider them weaknesses but instances of respectful deference to my own common sense.  I won't be taking any journeys of epic proportion on the scooter, for example.  I'll ride within my comfort zone and make no apologies for doing so.

I'll keep on riding - and writing - as much as I feel like and not a bit more nor less.  I'll celebrate the scooter kinds of anniversaries, some quietly and others with a little more noise.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Harvest Ride

Although I've never worked a minute on a farm, there is something inside me that connects with Autumn and harvest imagery on some primal level.  I don't believe I'm alone in feeling some kind of grab in the gut when I see pumpkins, cornstalks, apples, and other symbols of the harvest.  That whatever it is that reaches inside me and strokes some ancient chord is probably the same whatever it is that makes Children of the Corn type movies more horrifying than their surface content would explain.  Something about cutting down and storing the crops stirs us way down deep in the sub, sub conscious, and while on one level it is compelling, on another it raises the little hairs on the backs of our necks.  Halloween brings it all together and enriches that "something wicked this way comes" feeling with rank symbolism that is all but impossible to ignore.  The unsettling emotion of the harvest touches the human soul with an icy finger.

It was a beautiful day for a ride today with warm sun (eventually) and cool, crisp air juxtaposed in a delicious way.  I left the house around 9 and didn't get back till early afternoon for lunch.  As I once did with the Fly50 out of necessity, I rode the BV at a slower than speed limit cruising speed, pulling over to the curb numerous times to let the speed demons behind me get to those all important places to which they seemed hell bent on racing.  I wasn't going to let the cagers force me to move any faster than I wanted to go, and if I remember the resolve I felt about that today, I'm going to do that more often in the future.  I rode past Komensky's market in Duryea and had to circle back to pose the scooter in front of their festive window which I knew even as I was taking the picture was going to become the masthead photo at the top of this page for the next few weeks.

As I neared the rail yard in Taylor at which I always stop to see if anything's going on I happened to glance to my left and caught a mural painted on the side of a building.  I thought it had to be new, but the date beside the artist's signature showed it to be a few years old.  Perhaps it was the slower speed at which I was traveling that allowed me to see it today for the first time.  King Coal and the trains take a central position in the painting, and rightly so.  Many, many years ago it would have been nigh impossible to get anywhere around here without seeing a reminder of the mines and hearing the plaintive horns of a working locomotive.  I'm glad that the mines are dormant but the rail traffic lives on.

Since I ended up close to the Steamtown site, I had to stop by to see if there was anything new.  Two steam locomotives were hauling passengers today, which is rare.  Although I got a good number of pictures of the action and the thick, black smoke the engines were belching, it was this quiet engine set that drew me closer to see if I might get a decent picture with both the locomotive and the scooter in it.  I was thrilled when I saw that the grade crossing on which I have the scooter parked was right there waiting for me to roll onto it!

The weather, the colors, and circumstances in general seemed to be smiling in my direction as I rode.  The sun and the cool breeze of riding played against each other to keep me refreshed and totally appreciative of ever mile that I covered.  Only one thing could have made my time on the bike more perfect.  Perhaps next year!

Monday, October 5, 2009

Out of Town Again

It wasn't until Friday evening, after I expressed my feeling of restlessness, that I headed out to western Pennsylvania again. There had been no plan to leave town, but around 7:30 PM when the stars and planets somehow ended up in proper alignment, off I went with a spring in my step. I'd been only a half an hour away from sinking into the sofa to watch "Ghost Whisperer" when those plans were gleefully scrapped in favor of a four hour drive, most of which would be made in the dark. What a difference a month makes in terms of daylight and temperature. I don't know if I ever appreciated how fast it goes from being August to October before.

Once again I took particular delight in experiencing Fall in all its glory as I drove from the northeastern part of the state to the southwestern and found it becoming more Autumnesque with every mile. Their trees, out there, are almost past the threshold of peak leaf viewing season, while ours, here, are still green - or worse, going from green to rusty without turning yellow or red in the process.

When I was there two weeks ago, we discovered a refurbished train station in Stoystown but ran out of time to explore it because it was time for me to head back east. We headed back there just as soon as we could, and as we walked the grounds and peeked through the windows of the place, it almost felt like I'd never left.

Photo by Susan

The last time I was on the Lincoln Highway I came back with a picture of myself about to be gobbled up by a huge praying mantis. This time, something a little more artistic...

Photo by Susan

I'm not even going to caption this one. Maybe one of you guys can come up with a better line than I might have...

Photo by Susan

There were four of these gentle creatures in the field when we stopped by to take some pictures. I started talking and these two came right over to me...

Photo by Susan

I never fail to find much happiness in simple, unique scenes such as this one. Just plop an old bathtub where it doesn't belong and my camera and I are drawn to it like a moth to a flame...

Photo by Susan

It's so beautiful out there! And to think that until about two years ago I'd only been beyond half the width of Pennsylvania once. In two weeks I'll be heading back. I'm not sure where we'll end up then, but I'm fairly certain that I'll be seeing whatever I see, in part, through the lens of my camera. And when I'm not behind it, I'll most likely be in front of it!