Monday, May 24, 2010


I wrote a blog some years ago, entirely unlike this one.  All of us who create thematic blogs express mostly slivers of ourselves in our offerings.  Some seem to keep a viable reader base when their thoughts are all over the place rather than centered on a singular topic or idea.  Indeed, I find myself drawn more to particular writers and their styles even when they go way off base in what they choose to write about.  I read some of my own past posts, though, and wonder if I'm not just all wishy-washy in that I don't seem to focus on the scooter and the riding thereof, though I claim to be Scootin' da Valley.  But, there's more to my life, as there is to any life, than scootering as my friend Joe who's the only person in the world who's been privy to both of my blogs can attest.  Greg, my best friend from high school, recently taught me, "All you ever really know about someone is what he tells you."  He's right, of course.

So what was all that the preamble to?  Just that some days are the best in their simplicity.  Like yesterday when I scored this choice parking space right in front of City Hall on my way to the Fine Arts Fiesta on the public square.  Sometimes all it takes to put me on top of the world is a clean shot at a good parking spot, and then there are the days when dancing bears and people whom I love are knocking themselves out to raise me from a low spot and failing miserably, probably because I'm wallowing in self pity and nearly enjoying it.  I blame it on being Slovak sometimes.  It might not be the ethnicity, per se, but simply a genetic bent to be up or down with little middle ground that feels quite right.

Like everybody, I love a good day, but perhaps with my disposition to feel things deeply and richly, more than most.  The top of the world is a great place to be, in spite of its loneliness at times.  When my face is lit up by a smile, God's in His heaven and all's right with the world.  Well, my little world at least.

Give me a good scootering day every now and again, and I'm happy enough even when that scootering day has nothing at all to do with riding the scooter.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Blessing of the Bikes

For a few years I've been visiting Somerset County here in Pennsylvania, and each spring I saw signs for the "Blessing of the Bikes" at the Somerset Alliance Church. In years past my visits didn't coincide with the weekend on which they'd be doing the blessing, but this time it finally did and I was able to attend it! I've only been back a few hours.

I didn't count the bikes, but judging by the number of rows I think 250 would be a conservative estimate. As at the Johnstown Thunder in the Valley rally last summer, it was quite impressive seeing so many bikes and their riders all assembled in one place. Though held in the church parking lot, the atmosphere was reserved with all in attendance seeming to be aware that this was "church" - a prayerful gathering. The riders shared a spirit of camaraderie, and many seemed to be meeting up with old friends. It was nice being a part of the event/service in spite of being there in the Neon.

Scooters were represented by this vintage Honda Elite that had been outfitted with a cassette player and speakers! Following the blessing there was a ride to a nearby field where lunch was being served. We didn't stick around to watch the riders leave because I figured it would take quite a while to get out if we did, so I'm not sure if this little guy's rider tried to keep up with the big dogs.

I was heartened when the minister made it clear that the bikes themselves weren't being blessed. The invocation for protection and safety was for all who ride cycles, so I was included though I was without bike.

Sponsored by the Somerset "Riders of Faith" which seems to be one of the adult ministries at the Somerset Alliance Church the event was generously offered. Coffee and doughnuts were free, as was the lunch though we didn't go to that. There were copies of the New Testament specifically printed for bikers as were there ride pins freely distributed. I'm not sure what creed the church professes in relation to denominations whose names I recognize, but they can be proud for giving to the community a sterling example of the spirit of Christianity.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Cookies and Doughnuts

It was nine years ago, on my birthday, when I received the surreal news that our former pastor had drowned with his dad in a nearby lake on which they'd been snowmobiling.  It's the kind of stuff one never thinks he'll hear.  The kind of stuff that stays with you and comes back time and time again through various memories.  The kind of stuff you shuffle aside quickly by remembering something happy instead.

I thought of Father Joe today - about a sermon he once gave.  He talked about any two kids.  You give one of them two cookies each, and all is well.  If you give one of them two cookies and the other only one, all hell breaks loose.  He ended his sermon with - and I paraphrase, "Sometimes in life you only get one cookie.  You can waste all of your time crying about somebody else getting two, but you really need to enjoy the one you have instead."  He packed a lot of wisdom into that cookie.

A photo of Father Joe Ziobro at his memorial Mass.

He was right, of course, in that way that none of us wants to admit when we're the ones who are dealt but the single cookie. I lament that my dad might not be with us to celebrate his birthday again next year, forgetting that so many others, him included, lost their own dads at much earlier times in their lives.  I feel cheated in my salary when I compare it to that of many others doing the same job, overlooking that I love what I'm doing,  where I'm doing it, and that I'm doing it with the best of them.

We waste so many words - so much language in the course of a typical day.  We argue and fight and debate about crap that either doesn't matter at all or not nearly as much as we pretend that it does.

It's not about that.  It's not about any of that stuff on which we waste our time, our energy, our words at all.

Sometimes it's just all about happening to be passing Krispy Kreme when the "HOT NOW" sign is lit.

I think Father Joe might have meant hot doughnuts when he talked about those cookies that day.  I don't know about the other 11 glazed originals in that box, but the one I got was excellent!

Saturday, May 1, 2010

May Day

It was a most fitting start to May with temperatures in the 80's and plenty of humidity to make it feel more like late July than early Spring. While I respect the "all the gear, all the time" guys, all that gearing up isn't for me. If I'm wearing shorts for the day and plan to hit the road on the BV, the shorts stay. There will be many days between now and October when the whole point of hopping on the scooter and taking off will be simply to cool down and I'm not going to pull on a pair of jeans then. Today was my first day of 2010 with shorts on all day, and on the bike, they felt marvelous!

Even though I would never make fun of the ATG-ATT folks, I am going to pick on the superstitious ghost hunting wannabees who think that "orbs" in photos are ghosts or some other kinds of other-worldly phenomena. There were a number of such orbs in this picture snapped with the flash at dusk today, but I didn't feel the hairs on the back of my neck standing up nor sense any kind of ectoplasmic presence. One of my friends did a Ghosts of Gettysburg walking tour some years back and was thrilled to find orbs in many of his photos, convinced that indeed the town of the famous battlefield was chock full of the not quite so departed dead and that he'd captured proof of their presence right there on his digital snapshots. I did the tour some time after that and all I got were a good number of mosquito bites and a sore knee.

Besides the balmy temperature, another herald of the coming summer was finding the gates open to one of the parks I haunt on many of my summer evening rides.

The gates were locked up tight in late fall and I'd ridden up to them a number of times when I took the bike out in the winter on the nicer days. It was almost ritualistic in that I'd go to the park knowing full well that they'd be locked, almost as if I expected them to swing wide open for me as my front tire rolled closer. I'd heave a deep sigh, turn around, and dare to be disappointed in spite of knowing that I wouldn't be able to get into the park before I even got there. There was some minor disappointment in finding that the portable potties weren't installed for the season yet, but that'll just give me another little something to look forward to 'cause everybody knows that the coming of the Job Johnnies is the true sign of summer's full arrival.

The very observant will see quickly my cause for further joy in this snot snapped even earlier today.

There are two helmets hanging off the back of the BV. My baby's home from school! Though her days here at the house will be broken up by her work schedule, a trip in late June to Alabama, and various spontaneous trips to see her boyfriend, she's officially done with her sophomore year of college and here to stay for a good while. Though it was nice when they were kids," sometimes I think it's even better when they're adults. Both of my daughters grew up to be persons I respect, and I think that might be the best part of knowing that I had some part in making them who they are.

Happy May!