Thursday, October 22, 2015


I learned a few cool words in high school: onomatopoeia, deus ex machina, alliteration, and a few others that sound all fancy ass and highfalutin as I like words to sound.  Sometimes it's surprising to learn a new word and think, They actually have a word for that?  Like "defenestration" which is the act of throwing something or someone out of a window.  One of my favorite words that makes a sweetly pretentious sound is "juxtaposition" - a word for simply putting things side by side.

One of the things I find most enjoyable about scootering is pausing to take selfies that juxtapose me beside natural, interesting, eyebrow raising, head shaking, or otherwise noteworthy things or vistas that by themselves would make pleasant enough pictures.  I find, though, that they're just better with me in them.  Sometimes putting myself into a picture is just more fun when I'm on the scooter and I take advantage of the opportunity to do so just about every time I'm out on the bike.

Herewith are a number of recent favorites, and I suppose by "recent" I mean they were taken sometime during this year.

Don't just pose.  Juxtapose!

Monday, October 19, 2015

They Pay People to Do That

I was out shopping somewhere once in my formative years when I spied a piece of merchandise lying on the floor and went to pick it up and return it to the shelf.  Whoever I was with said, "Don't do that.  They pay people to do that."  I thought it a rather snotty thing to say, seeming to suggest that I was too good to do something so menial.  As an adult, one of my relatives worked in a retail store where the owner, Willy, worked right along with his staff.  One day he was going to lug something to a woman's car when she exclaimed, "Oh, Willy, don't do that!  Have one of the girls (employees) do it."  Again it seemed a rather shitty thing to say, the connotation being that carrying whatever it was to the car was beneath the owner's dignity.

But, as always, there is often more than one way to look at things...

 Every supermarket seems to have a cart guy - someone whose job is to scour the parking lot for stray shopping carts and get them back into the store for another go round.  It's not a glamorous job, but it's honest work and what's being accomplished by it is rather important.  Rain or shine, hot or frigid, the cart guys are out there dutifully performing their jobs and often with friendly smiles as they go about their duties.

I often find myself out shopping with a dear friend who thinks she's somehow being the noblest of citizens when she insists on taking her shopping cart to the nearest cart corral or back to the front of the store itself.  I argue that she's threatening the job of the cart guy when she does that.  If everybody wrangled his cart after filling his car, the cart guy would lose some hours from his pay check.  I'll admit that I'm lazy and that that's the primary reason why I leave my cart next to where I'm parked, but without obstructing any parking spaces.  But, I'd like to think that I'm doing the cart guy a good turn by ensuring that his hours won't be cut because of me.  Yes, they pay somebody to do that, and I leave his work for him to do rather than mess with his job security.


Sunday, October 18, 2015

Getting There vs. Being There - A Different Take

All of us who do the scooter blog thing probably address the getting there vs. being there perspective at some time or other.  I might have done it here myself in the past, but I don't catalog my own posts in any way that might allow me to refer back to such a piece of writing easily.

Until I got a scooter, all the varied means of human conveyance, with the exception of amusement park rides and bicycles, were but ways of getting from point A to point B.  There was no joy or thrill in getting there for me.  I was that obnoxious child, well into my 40s, either asking or thinking, "Are we there yet?" during every trip whether walking, driving, or being driven.  Even as a kid with a fresh new driver's license, I wasn't one to take the car just for the fun of driving somewhere.  If I didn't have a reason to go out, I didn't go.

Getting a scooter changed all of that for me. Suddenly going out wasn't about getting to somewhere in particular; it was about the simple joy of riding the bike.  No longer did I need a reason for leaving the house because I wasn't going anywhere important most of the time.  I was going out only for the very reasons that only scooter riders know after they've taken that first ride.  Freedom.  Fun.  Exhilaration! 

Mind you, when I'm in the car, it's not about riding around for any kind of joy unless I happen to be driving to a joyful kind of place.  A car's just a way of getting somewhere.

Now, I'm in a hard place.  I need to walk every day for my cardiac health and I've been walking according to my doctor's directions faithfully.  BUT...  Try as I might to enjoy my walks, they're sadly just all about being a "good boy" and doing what I'm supposed to be doing.  I want them to be fun, like riding the scooter.  I want them to be interesting.  I want to see things along the way that delight me and cause me to pause and reach for the camera.  I want to encounter people even for a simple, "Good morning" with a smile.  BUT...  All I focus on when I get out of the car, set up the walker, and take those first steps is getting back to the car, having fulfilled my daily duty of putting in the time that the cardiologist told me to put in.


I look ahead while I'm plodding along.  Oh, I see some autumn decorations here and there and some cute things on porches now and then, but mostly my focus is on where I'm going - to the next corner, the next turn, the next place where I need to check my watch.

Sometimes I can't even see the next place where I'll need to turn to take me back to where I started because the street seems to go on forever.  One step after another.  Tromp.  Tromp.  The streets are unusually and surprisingly quiet when I walk in the morning.  People have already gone off to work, and the ones at home aren't typically out and about on foot.  Being alone on the scooter is different.  The machine itself is almost a fellow traveler in a sense that I can't explain so the solitude doesn't swallow me up as it does when I'm walking.  I've tried doing that same introspection and soul searching when I'm walking as I do when I'm on the scooter, but it doesn't work.  My thoughts just keep going back to looking ahead to where I need to be till the next turn is made or the walk is over.

My sister asked me if I've thought about praying while I'm walking, particularly the Rosary which is kind of a Catholic means of meditation.  I admitted that I did try, but that my thoughts wandered all over the place in spite of trying to keep my attention on the prayers.  I feel like I'm the person on the tee shirt that says something about ADHD and ends abruptly with something like, "Oh look!  A chicken!"

I'm walking in residential neighborhoods and trying to walk a different street each day to keep things interesting.  There are advantages to living in the city - not encountering bears and such, but the city has its own dangers. Everywhere there's a tree there are buckling sidewalk panels and when I come upon one without paying attention the wheels hit it and the walker stops even if I don't.  And sidewalks are typically pitched toward the street even if slightly.  If I start walking on one side of a street and cross to the other either to get into or out of the sun depending on how hot it is, the opposite tilt of the concrete on the other side makes adjusting to it oddly difficult.

Things that delight me are sometimes strangely unexpected.  For example, I paused to take the picture above when I "triumphed" over the urge to cut the corner by going through the parking lot and stayed on the sidewalk till the intersection.  Hey, I'll take good things where I find them, even if they make me raise my own eyebrows.

The best parts about walking so far, even though I can't quite get into a pleasantly sustainable groove are the scenes like this one.  I do find prayers on my lips easily when I come upon these delightfully whimsical visual treats, asking the Almighty to bless the persons who took the time and bore the expense of making and presenting these simple pleasures.  That someone went out of his way to make me feel the kind of boyish glee that I experience when I see such things makes me truly grateful to be part of the same species as he.

So, where am I?  Struggling to find in walking the same pleasure I find in riding the scooter.  Now and then I encounter my cousin, Mark, who's out running when I'm out riding.  I call out to him from the saddle of the bike and he waves as I go past.  I imagine he's shaking his head in wondering what kind of fun I'm having on a scooter just as I'm shaking my head in wondering what kind of fun he's finding in running.  I know there's some pleasure to find in walking for the sake of walking.  I just need to keep looking for it.

Friday, October 16, 2015

A Bit Slower

The cold seems to be here to stay without much of an Indian Summer to speak of this year.  Well, okay, it's not freezing cold, but the chill goes pretty deep these days.  Steve Williams over at "Scooter in the Sticks" wrote a recent post in which he suggested that one of his relatively new heart meds might be making him feel the cold more keenly than in the past.  Finding myself now on the same pill I'm wondering if that's working on me as well.  I'm the guy who's opening windows while the rest of the family is turning up the thermostat, but it's only autumn and I'm feeling cold, even sitting here at my computer desk with a toasty 69°F reading on the thermometer next to me.

Nevertheless, I'm still taking off on the scooter as often as I can to the usual places that are nothing special except that they're nice enough places to ride to.  Nobody can tell the number of layers I have on under my sweat jacket, but it's fewer than Ralphie's brother sports in "A Christmas Story."

Since having the heart repairs I'm supposed to walk daily.  The trouble is that now that I can breathe more easily I'm much more conscious of the pain in my bad knee.  When I mentioned it to my family doctor when I went for my check-up a few days ago, he wrote me a prescription for a walker.  He was right that it would help me not to waddle from side to side as badly, and to stand straighter than my usual bit of a forward tilt.  Though I don't need it yet every time I get on my feet, without it, walking for more than a short distance is practically impossible.

For my inaugural walk with the walker I chose the tee shirt I've had for years that features the silhouette of an old lady using a walker and it reads "IT'S GO TIME!"  Urban dictionary says of, "It's go time," that it's a phrase meaning, "I challenge you to a streetfight," usually accompanied by the challenger assuming a fighting stance.  I guess this is my fighting stance against more heart disease of the potentially fatal kind.

Now all I have to do is rig up some kind of carrier so I can take the walker with me on the scooter because I'd been liking taking the scooter to where I planned to walk each morning, preferring to check out different neighborhoods here in "da valley" rather than to walk my own neighborhood where I've lived since I was born.  It's a little easier carrying a cane on the scooter than the walker will be, but I'm going to give rigging a scooter rack a try.  Maybe in the spring.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

New Things

Last Thursday I dropped the scooter off at the shop for its annual inspection.  I was going to be away for the weekend and wouldn't miss the down time without it so it seemed fine that they said they'd get to it on Monday.  On Friday they called, though, to tell me that I needed a new front tire and to give me a price quote on a broken piece of plastic that I wanted to have replaced if it wouldn't be too costly.  They said it takes about three days for things to come in, so I did figure that I wouldn't get the bike back from the shop till later this week.

I got the call to pick it up this morning while I was out on my daily walk, and I was thrilled.  Not only was it done, but the price wasn't TOO bad either.  No wonder I looked so happy after I went down to get it and then rode around to nowhere in particular for about an hour.

The plastic piece that had been broken hung around my neck like an embarrassing albatross because I knew (and only I knew, but nevertheless was chagrined by it), that it had broken when I dropped the bike after locking my front wheel by grabbing the brake way too hard because I was coming down an exit ramp much too fast.  It was the housing for the starter switch and I had it patched together with electrical and duct tapes.  The crack had happened a few years ago, but it continued to get worse over time and it had gotten to the point where the starter switch was either hanging by its wires out of the housing, or getting pushed too far back into the housing when I fired up the engine.  The new piece is just beautiful to me.  It's SO smooth and sleek looking!

The new front tire fills me with glee as well with its thickness and deep treads. 

And it probably served me quite well this afternoon when I slipped into an alleyway after seeing that the street I was on had been milled and I was coming up on the ground up area.  The alley seemed to be made of dirt, dust, and gravel and I typically freak out when I end up on a surface like that.  I figured that the look on my face was one of terror as I navigated over the grit didn't look too pretty had anyone seen me, but I managed to get to the other end, praying the whole time that I'd stay upright and maintain some semblance of dignity.

And that pretty new red inspection sticker is so shiny compared to last year's green one that had gotten dingy looking after a whole year of exposure to the cruel elements (like air, wind, and a little rain now and then.)

Sometimes it's the little things that make all the difference!

(I AM smiling.)

Thursday, October 1, 2015

I Was Right

Funny how when I'm right about things, they're often not good things.  Without checking any weather forecasts I predicted yesterday that my days of riding in a tee shirt and shorts were coming to an end soon, and I awoke this morning to temperatures in the low 50s.  Today's riding ensemble was totally different from yesterday's.

Not only was I sporting the "glow in the dark" jacket, but under it was a long sleeved flannel shirt on top of the usual tee.  The leather gloves were out too!

There was nowhere that I needed to go except to take my daily walk, and I sure wasn't ready to have to take the car.  I won't walk in my own neighborhood; I don't consider it safe any more so I usually scoot to a nicer place somewhere a little farther out.

I calculated the distance from one end of a local strip mall to the other and determined it to be just the right length so off I rode to give it a whirl.  In walking as much as I have since I got out of the hospital last week I'm still sore in places I forgot I had, but I can feel the muscles getting back in shape in other places so the walking is getting a little faster and easier.

I ended up at the farmer's market downtown for what will surely be one of the last of the season to get some fresh zucchinis.  A fat woodchuck and his family destroyed with impunity my zuke crop before it even got past the leaf growing stage and I didn't get a single one from the garden this year.  Of course I couldn't resist the opportunity to get a pic of me grinning next to the "Sweet Lush Cupcakery" truck.  Nope.  No cupcakes for me.

So it was chilly, but I braved the "freezing" 50s and got out there anyway for some fun riding.  No scootering till next week now.  After dinner I dropped the bike off at the shop for its annual inspection.  Here's hoping I won't be getting a call to inform me that I need new tires or anything costly and that I'll be back in the saddle post haste.