Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Surviving the "Heat"

It's been a hellish summer here in Northeastern Pennsylvania, but we're not alone in enduring what the sun's been dishing out for the past month or so.  Yes, I've been out on the scooter going nowhere, as I usually am when school is out, but the perceived breeze that comes from moving through the air rather than having it blowing past you doesn't relieve a thing.  In fact, I read some time ago that when it gets above about 95° F the "wind chill" factor actually works backwards, making you feel even hotter than the given temperature.  The heat is on!

This past school year was particularly stressful in being that I was the new kid on the block in being moved to an established school.  From nearly day one I looked forward to this summer and prayed that it would be a lot more relaxing than the past two had been with various major issues that warranted a lot of worry.  Here I am, though, half done with said summer and with a new school year looming on the horizon.  I've gone on two trips, one great and one okay.  Next week I'll take my third of four and when it's over I'm going to need some major butt kicking so as not to get into a bleak depression in being on the other side of the halfway point of this vacation.

It was only five springs ago when I first started scootering and it's hard to believe how much my life has changed since then.  I remember when I first got that little Piaggio Fly 50  and rode it home I didn't have much of a care in the world.  I was still at the school where I'd gone as a child and where I had spent 24 years of my adult life as a teacher.  Mom and dad, and all of us were in fairly decent health.  God was in His heaven,  all was right with the world, and I was infinite degrees of awesome in riding around on a cherry red scooter that looked like a toy under my substantial caboose.  

Scootering had been for me, back then, a perfect escape from a life that was nice and easy to begin with.  I get on the beast now hoping for another taste of that unique freedom that riding once provided, only to find that my worries, and concerns, and anxieties too often come along with me for the rides I take.  It was that freedom for which I longed, especially after Christmas when I found myself on the other end of the school year and was counting down the days, but it's now the far side of July and I haven't found it yet.

Yeah, I know all the usual adages.  Life is what you make it.  Make lemonade.  And all that.  They're darned easier on paper, though, than they are in "real life."

Every now and then when I'm off scootering I'll get a whiff of a lawn that had just been mowed and for a little while, at least, it takes me back to the early scooter days when I was much more carefree.  I'm at an age by which I should have everything that's important all figured out, but I don't think I'm any closer to making sense of it all than I was when I got out of high school and started college as a psychology major.  I'll keep trying, though to survive the heat - literally and figuratively.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Back in the Saddle

My license arrived in the mail from Harrisburg on Saturday afternoon, but my suspension didn't technically end till midnight.  I waited, and at about 12:30 AM the following morning I decided that I'd take a short spin on the scooter just to celebrate.  It was a hairy ride!

By the time I got to the end of my street I thought I felt the yoke wobbling a little and it seemed as if the bike was pulling a little to either side and not going quite straight.  At first with wishful thinking I thought I was just out of practice, but in the back of my mind I knew better.  I suspected that the front tire might be flat, but when I stopped and leaned to get a peek, it seemed to be inflated.  I made a right turn slowly, and as I came out of it on the straightaway I felt a definite wobble.  Because of the pattern of one way streets in my neighborhood it would take about a half mile to get back to the house.  I rode slowly and took turns gingerly till I was back under the deck safe and sound, but shaking a little because I wasn't sure that I'd make it.

It wasn't till I dismounted to check the tire pressure that I noticed that it was awfully dark.  Because I'd been worried about getting the scooter and me back in one piece I had not even seen that my headlight bulb was kaput and that I'd done my ride only by the glow of streetlights.  There were only 10 pounds of pressure in the tire.  I fired up the compressor, got the pressure up to the recommended 33 psi and came in the house thankful to be back.

When I got up for church I feared the worst when I went out and checked the pressure again.  Thankfully it held right where I'd raised it to so I rode the scooter the short distance to church and then to get some groceries afterward.  When I dropped off the produce I headed back out and rode for about a hour, but not too far from the house just in case.  The pressure's been holding at 33 since I refilled the tire, but I'm still concerned because a tire shouldn't lose 23 pounds of pressure in two weeks just from sitting.

Tomorrow I'll be heading out to western Pennsylvania for the second of four such trips I've planned for this summer.  I'm playing tuba in their community band and for 30 some years of not having played I'm not displeased with how I'm doing.  It's like riding a bike!  Somehow it all comes back to you.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

On Having My Wings Clipped

At the beginning of March I was nabbed by a "bear in the air," as I was cruising along on I80 doing 102 mph in a posted 65 mph zone.  As a result I am serving a 15 day suspended license period which is set to expire in four days.

I am not missing driving my car at all during this period of being unlicensed, but I am missing jumping on the scooter and just going.  Going anywhere, nowhere in particular, just to feel again that rejuvenating and addictive sensation of flying on a chair with wings as I once described the feeling of being on the scooter and just going for the sake of going.

I can't go to the park that I often haunt in the summers - the one with the colorful gazebo where I thought that I'd enjoy blogging out in the great outdoors only to discover that being without an internet connection made writing on the laptop less of the experience that I'd hoped it might be.

I can't go to the county park where there's nothing to see or do except to rejoice in the fact that it's the time of year when the gates aren't closed because of the season.

I can't go to the back roads and byways where I often do the nebulous kind of introspection that doesn't reveal anything new about myself to me, but which gives me a good brain scrubbing and mental purge nonetheless.

I couldn't go to the first get-together of a new, local scooter group this past weekend.

Yes, I suppose I can admit graciously that I deserved to be punished for my misdeed.  I had to pay the standard fine, of course, but then, because I'd exceeded the speed limit by more than 31 mph I had to attend a hearing after which it would be recommended to Harrisburg that I'd have to serve a suspension of my driving privilege, take an on road driver's test, or both.  Because this was my very first moving violation ever, I'd kind of assumed, especially after attending the hearing and finding the gentleman on the other side of the desk to be gracious, warm, and hospitable, that I'd be stuck with the lesser of the possible punishments.  I was very surprised when I opened the letter that arrived about a week later, informing me that my license was being suspended.  Now that the 15 day suspension is almost over, I suppose I'm feeling somewhat fortunate in spite of being stuck in the house because I didn't have to face the indignity of taking an on road test like some pimply faced teenager, and because the suspension period was able to be served after school got out and I didn't have to drive to work.

I've made the same trip as the one on which I was "nabbed" three times since I got the ticket.  On each of those three trips I've set my cruise control to the posted speed limit, and simply steered.  Going 65 now reminds me of when I first got the little scooter and was viewing the world at around 30 mph every time I took it out.  There's a lot to see when you're going slower.  A lot more to enjoy when you're not looking over your shoulder every 15 seconds to see if there's a cop behind you or trying to remember to slow down at every interstate crossover lest there be a trooper poised between the division and aiming his radar gun in your direction.

I wish I'd remembered that before I had to relearn it the ugly way.  As my favorite uncle often says when he sees somebody driving in an awful rush, "If you're that much in a hurry, you should have left yesterday."  I will try not to forget that the next time I'm behind the wheel, or the handlebars.  And the time after that.  And the time after that.  Ad infinitum!

Monday, June 18, 2012


I've not been here since last September, shortly after I had started a new school year in a new place.  I would have been much happier at the old school and spent much of the academic year just feeling sorry for myself in being with strangers rather than among a whole bunch of people I loved.  I didn't feel like writing.  I didn't feel like doing much of anything except the things I had to do.

I don't know that I've really moved beyond that, but the comment that I just moderated asking if I'm still here poked me sufficiently to pop in here now.

When school got out on Friday, the 8th, I headed out of town to spend a week away from the valley to clear my head and just enjoy myself.  When I got back two days ago I headed to PennDOT to surrender my driver's license and begin serving a 15 day suspension of my driving privilege as a result of having been stopped for driving at 102 MPH on a 65 MPH interstate, obviously NOT with the scooter.  It was on a three mile hill where there are no extra lanes or crossovers in which a state policeman might hide.  They nailed me with a cop in an airplane!

So, I won't be scootin' for the next three weeks.  When my license is restored I'll be heading out of town again.  After that, I'll see where the summer takes me and if it brings me back here.