In Like A Lamb

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I am not one for resolutions no matter the time of year. Those of you who know me, or those of you who have been following my writing (and honestly, those might/could be one and the same), might be aware that I have landed on one certain New Years goal that I have recycled annually three time now. I don’t see the need to set myself up for possible failure because that only leads to disappointment. Well anyway, I have decided to make a resolution which I will attribute to the Chinese New Year even though it most likely is completely independent of the event. I was walking down the drive way to fetch the mail for my grandma and grandpa. It was a beautiful day. About 18° with sunshine. The skys were clear and it was late in the afternoon making for a soft golden glow on everything. The snow looked like soft butter and the mowed down cornfield I was walking towards was bathed in the soft light. The only ugly bit of the scene was the South Dakotan wind which was whipping past and chilling my cheeks. It had died down quite a bit since the morning but still I found myself looking down as I made my way towards the mail box. Something struck my mind as I stared down the snow I was about to trod on and it caused me to look up. I realized that I had been looking down, not observing the beauty that I knew was there. My eyes could be taking in so much, and in doing so could fill my brain with thoughts that were currently being drown out by the look of stirred gravel and snow that my boots were coming in contact with. When I looked up my mind opened and my thoughts diversified. I looked up.

That’s my new resolution, to look up more often.

If you read my last post you are well aware that I am currently emmersed in the Northern landscape. The skyline I look up at — for the moment — is the South Dakotan one. I am filling this weird time with farm animals, knitting, and fire wood collecting; the traditional winter experience in the North. It is nice to be here, doing this. I have not had the opportunity to spend so much time with my South Dakotan family before, and I am finding it quite enriching. I get to wake up early and pet the horses and check out the chickens before having a.hot, hearty, farm breakfast. I get to sit around the table with people who share my heritage and plan the day, and then before the sun goes down I get to pet the horses and check the chickens again. The sheep play an important role here too. My grandma and ‘second’ grandfather (my Dad’s step father) have mostly sheep. They keep them for the wool which gets sheared and turned into yarn by my grandmother and also sold at her yarn shop. They also butcher them for the freezer and breed them for more wool production. This time of year is lambing season which means all the females are large and nearing the end of pregnancy. Within the next week or so I will get to see some baby lambs popping out. In preparation for this the shearing of the wool has been scheduled. It is a lot of work so my grandparents called in a professional. We will see when he shows up. Shearing a sheep before the lamb id born is done for the safety of the creatures. A sheep who is fluffy with wool runs the risk of not feeling her baby when she beds down for the night. This can lead to the suffocation of a misplaced lamb. I didn’t know this til my grandma told me, now I do, and now so do you. We all learn something new everday.

I am looking forward to seeing some baby lambs and I am hoping I can make myself useful in the barn when the party starts. Maybe I can learn something new. We shall see.

I said I was knitting and I am. I enjoy a good creative outlet but when I’m stressed the more mindless the better. Painting and drawing takes more thought than I can give right now and as far as writing goes I appear to have a bit of block created by the lack of assurity on what to write about. Knitting requires very little thought compared to my other hobbies and so therefore has taken precedence as of late. My mind is stressed with all the thoughts already filling it and fiber arts have always come simply to me. In the time I have been here I have knit a wool bag which is now felted to sell at grandma’s shop, wrist warmers for the next time I ride Little Wing, and a hat for Dad. Actually I am just starting on the hat for Dad. He didn’t have a wool hat and I didn’t have a project so we both benefit from this latest piece. He chose a silk wool blend that was dyed and carded by my aunt, spun by my cousin, and hanging at my grandma’s shop. The hat will be knit by me and wore by Dad, making for a piece of apparel full of family handiwork. I love the concept. I also love the relaxation.

I went back to Minnesota to take care some of my business. I figured as long as I was in the Northern area I should take advantage of the opportunity to take care of things like taxes. I also wanted to find a pair of boots that fit instead of my grandma’s, which are a few sizes too big. Since I have two pairs of wonderful snow boots that I had already dropped a pretty penny on I didn’t see the point in purchasing another pair. Instead I went home to look for them. Home being Grand Rapids,MN, the home I lived at for the year prior to the adventure. Dad had told me that I hadn’t dropped them at his place in all my moving and shifting so I assumed they must be with my roomate Lea. This meant a roadtrip to Minnesota in a truck on a snowy day, something that is as familiar to me as the knit stitch. It was interesting how short the drive was. The last time I drove the distance it seemed like an eternity. A never-ending drive that tired me out. Three hundred miles used to be a lot. Used to be, before I rode from here to the other side of the country on a motorcycle. The last sixty miles to Grand Rapids, a route that is etched into my brain, seemed to last the span of a wink. I am not complaining. I arrived at my old home, the home of my roommate and her darling boys, to find it empty. I was suprised to find the door unlocked, something that was not a common practice of Lea’s. Once again though, I was not complaining. After all it was cold out and I didn’t really have anywhere else to go in Grand Rapids. I let myself in and was greeted by an enthusiastic dog, one of my living companions that I had shared the home with. His name is Zapper and him and I have always got along well. He and I have had long conversations in which I found myself dominating while he just stared at me adoringly. Zapper has also played an important role in some of my art pieces. Namely a painting which he stepped on while it was drying and many paper pieces which wore spilt coffee marks after he had taken a quick, and excited, look at what I was up to. Anyway, this ferocious gaurd dog didn’t seem to care that a strange woman was entering the home of his absent owners. He remembered me and his long tounge, compliments of his cockerspaniel lineage, found purchase on my cold face. He was just the same as I had left him, but I was to find that the last few months had not left all of my former abode stasis. Things were moved and changed, and though it looked fantastic it felt smaller than when I left. It took me awhile to figure out the change that had led to this perception but after a long contemplation I would conclude that I was the change. The shrinkage was all in my perception of the home, the same way the drive from here to there was shorter than it had ever been. As my world became larger the spaces became smaller. The people hadn’t though.

After a spell of hanging in my old home my former roomates returned. The four and five year old had stretched out. They were taller and more worldly themselves. Their speech was more eloquent and their perceptions were even sharper.

Before they arrived home I had went on a search for the elusive boots. I found one pair in the upstairs closet. When I came back to the main floor Zapper informed me, in his silent manner, that he had to use the bathroom. Instead of slipping my converse back on my feet for the short task I slipped my foot into one of the boots. The simple task was thwarted by my toe brushing an item in the end of my boot. I removed my foot and put my hand inside to retrieve he object. My hand closed around a handful of round objects that were about the size of walnuts, and with similar texture. When I pulled my fist out of the boot I found that it was wrapped around a handful of old stale dog kibbles. A question mark ran through my head. I thought of the different scenarios that might lead to dog kibbles in my boots. A mouse? Had a small rodent taken out individual dog kibbles from Zappers food bowl and transported them from ground floor to my boots that were stored upstairs? No, that made no sense. If it wasn’t a mouse then what could it be?

It must be three year old.

A memory of a three year old filled my mind. Young Frank filling his dog’s food dish in exchange for quarters from his mom. It had become his favorite chore sometime in the summer. He would offer to fill the food dish whenever he saw it was empty and he would even add to an already full dish. He would overflow the dish with the brown kibbles and as time passed he came to realize that he could do it without even asking Lea first. Everytime he walked in the door he would see the dish, which was stationed in the mudroom along with all of the different shoes and boots, and he would remember that Zapper might need food. We noticed that Zapper was gaining weight and some effort was made to tame Frank’s obsession. Even after explanation he only saw the overfeeding as being helpful. Though we noticed the overflow of food, and the new frequency of ‘dog food’ finding it’s way to the grocery list, we apparently didn’t observe his inappropriate repositories for said food. This train of thought ran the track of my mind as I emptied the first boot and stuck my foot in, all the while Zapper was going wild sniffing the stale dog food. He smelled it, but he wasn’t quite brave enough to sample it. I got the first boot laced up and stuck my other foot in the second one. I found that it was also full of kibbles. Three quartes full of the stuff. Zapper was getting gradually more anxious while performing his potty dance. I walked to the door, opened it, and let him out. I shook this second boot out on the snow. The results were a mix of stale kibbles and popcorn kernels, how Frank got his hands on those I have not the foggiest. Now I have one pair of boots that smell a bit like a dog kennel, but fortunately my other pair did not suffer the same fate. It just so happened that I had brought the second pair to Dad’s and he didn’t recall. I was able to retrieve both. The animals in the barnyard seem to be getting friendlier with me when I go out to do chores. First I feel flattered but when I look down at my feet and I see the same blue boots that were receptacles for Zappers lunch just a few days before and I can’t help but wonder if that is the source of this new found sniffs and licks from the creatures.

The three year old, Frank, is now four and boy does he have a lot to say. Difference is he now says it better than he did a few months ago. Both him and his brother, James, are older and wiser. I gave them big hugs and exchange they drew me some lovely pictures while I talked to their mom. She told me that she had made some joke as they were leaving that afternoon about the fact that they hadn’t locked the door. Lea always locks the door but for some reason she didn’t and she remembered laughing about a Sunday afternoon burglar when she was leaving. “And we had one,” she told me, chuckling.

James, the five year old, drew me a flower and a pink bird. Frank drew me volcanic eruptions and a tornado. After further prompting he drew me a house that looked very similar to the scribbles that made up the tornado. He took the same blue marker he used to draw the house and added a snowflake. He told me “there’s a snowflake in the house but it is hard to see because it is blue.” Wise kid. He didn’t feel the need to outline the snowflake in a different color so I just have to remember that it is there. James drew me the prettiest pink bird to go along with his colorful flower. He asked me to hang it on Dad’s fridge so we could all look at it when I got home. I told him I would.cFrank wanted to give my dad something too so he gave me a balloon. He watched me like a hawk as I put it in my bag, there wasn’t a chance he was going to let me forget it.

Dad was pleased by the gifts when I brought them back to him. The balloon was grey with white polka dots and he blew it up and hung it in the house. “Apropos,” he said, “we are unsure. Nothing is black and white, it is all about the grey area.” I would agree.

Like I said, those boys are very perceptive.

My birthday is on Sunday. I am looking up and staring onward towards the horizon. Whatever comes next will come, it is all just life. There will be baby lambs soon, and I will be a different age. Time will pass and as it does so will life. Knowledge and growth will come with life and perspectives will change. I don’t know what all that means, it’s just life I guess.

I heard a song on the radio the other day. It had been awhile since I heard it but it sure seemed to mean something this time around.

I am still looking up, looking ahead. I’m going to chide myself everytime I notice I’m looking down. If I look up I might see the blue snowflakes, pink birds, and baby lambs. Regardless, why waste the view?

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Year Of The Ram

For the first time in months I am typing up a blog on my tiny smartphone screen. This means this blog will be full of errors while lacking photos. I am ignoring these facts because it is time I post an update. My lack of blogging is a consequence of the abrupt change in adventure.

A week and a half ago, Monday the 9th, I took off on a jet plane, not sure when I’d be back again. I left Little Wing in the same garage I had cleaned up a week before, in Oceanside, California, and I embarked on a thirteen hour stint in and out of airplane terminals until I arrived in Minnesota. Why, you might ask. Well that is a tough question to answer.

My grandpa always told me to be honest and straight forward so I suppose that is what I shall do.

The same grandfather who speaks of honesty is very sick. He is nearing the end with an indeterminate amount of time left here in this world we know. This is very hard for me… but he seems to be coming to peace with it.

This is an unexpected turn of events in this year of adventure. My grandfather is a strong man. His life story was one of the first to fascinate me when Dad would tell me about our heritage. It is incomprehensible to imagine losing one of the humans I care the most about in this world, but now I have to. It is something yet to happen but an impending eventuality that I will soon understand. What does one do now?

I flew to the Northern Midwest a week ago, leaving Little Wing behind. It was an unreal experience. My grandparents live in South Dakota so the day before take off I entered a thrift store with the intent to buy clothing for the first time in months. I was leaving warm Cali and I needed warm clothes for my stint in frozen South Dakota. Shopping as therapy may have been another factor in my trip to the store because, in general, I dislike shopping. The next day I woke up at 6:45 and dressed in new-to-me jeans and a dress shirt. I looked in the mirror and considered the morning before. Waking up about the same time and opening the email from my aunt that contained the news of my grandfather. I thought about the hours of phone calls that lead to the purchase of the plane ticket that would put me on a flight at 8:00 pm Monday evening. Twenty-four hours had barely passed but it felt like a week — like a lifetime. The day was long. It was a day that reached near 80° but I barely noticed. My mind was reeling. I found entertainment in devouring a sad book by Khaled Hosseini, A Thousand Splendid Suns. I took Little Wing out for a ride. We rode to the house of the mechanic that fixed my foot peg bracket, Rhett. I asked his advice on a few bike issues that were still puzzling me and I settled up for the help he had given me earlier. I rode back to Andrea’s where I gave Little Wing a farewell pat down and once over while pushing him as far into the corner of the garage as I could manage. It was the final farewell to the paused adventure.

Is the adventure paused or is ot over? What does parking the motorcycle mean? That is a question that keeps rolling around in my head. I am unable to answer it.

I didn’t nap at all before the flight. I had purchased the cheapest flight possible from Sab Diego to Minneapolis. This resulted in a lot of time spent sitting in terminals. I got to the San Diego airport at 6:00 pm. After going through security I had an hour and a half to sit in the terminal before the twenty minute flight from San Diego to Las Vegas. I had the window seat on that flight. I enjoyed staring out the always coveted window at the shrinking lights of the city. The planes flight pattern took us away from the lights and over the same ocean I had waded through only a short time prior. I stared out at the airplane’s wings, I thought about my own Little Wing. I felt the turbulence that reminded the passengers of the speed we were moving at. It was reminiscent of the feel of a motorcycle on a rough road. I thought of why I was in the airplane and though the reason felt unreal my eyes stung. The rest of the night would find me too tired and without the ability to fully comprehend the reality of the situation a second time. The three hours in the Las Angles terminal would be dreamlike. The thirty minutes of restless sleep wouldn’t diminish the trance I was in. The two hour flight from Los Angles to the Dallas airport would find me squished in between an older African American woman and a slightly younger, para-professional, woman from Korea. I was able to catch another hour and thirty minutes worth of shuteye before touching down. It was 4:45 am when I stepped foot in Texas. I considered the thought that I had put into getting into that state just a few days before. The checking of the weather forecast in between the bouts of pouring over maps. Being in Texas was a thought that seemed so impossible only two days previously. I picked up some hot tea and I sat down to eat the last of the granola bars I had brought with me. My overly tired and stimulated brain thought about the plans for the rest of the day. I would arrive in Minnesota where I would be picked up by my Aunt Judy. She and I would head to Dad’s where we would tell him what was up. I found a place on the floor to lay my waterproof duffle down, the same one that I use as my backrest on Little Wing. I sat down beside it and pulled out my book (Cat’s Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut, the book I started after I finished Khaled Hosseini’s book) as I finished up the tea. Eventually I started nodding off and I was able to sleep for forty-five minutes in the wee hours of that Texas morning. I woke up to the sound of other flyers filling the seats around me. I would be able to catch fifteen more minutes of rest on the two and a half hour flight to Minneapolis. The plane would touch down a little after 11:00 am.

Flying into Minneapolis involved miles and miles of grey clouds. The plane finally made it out of the thick fog and at that point I was able to look out from my seat between the two older men that sat on either side of me out towards the land of my home state. Though I knew it was February it looked as though it was later in the season. I saw patches of brown and strips of white, something that would be opposite almost any other year. Minnesota’s weird weather this year had melted off the first snows of the season, but the snowstorm from the day before had left a mess on the roads. I could see the plows making their way along the roads as the plane came closer to landing.

I have found that winter in my Northern homeland is not the same as I am used to. It is chilly, that is the same, but the lack of snow around these parts is the strangest thing. The other strangest thing remains the reason why I am here. It feels impossible, but the random stings of moisture that blur my vision keep reality close at hand.

I really miss riding. My last ride on Little Wing was less than an hour long. I have been driving the borrowed farm trucks here in South Dakota and it isn’t the same. I am a better driver now, and the roads aren’t that icy this year, but the drives are still cold. I have been borrowing my grandmothers Sorel snow boits here. They are about three sizes too big but they insure that my feet stay warm. My motorcycle jacket also keeps me warm. I have been wearing my wool hat and cowl but I was without gloves so I had to borrow those when I got here. South Dakota wind is nothing to mess with — honestly, it might be another reason for the random tears. I have spent much of the last few months teasing others about their low tolerance for cold and then I get back to my home land and feel the need to wrap myself up in the linen closet just to stay warm. My slow ride away from the chill and into the heat helped me lose the edge I spent twenty years developing. My sister came down from Alaska. She didn’t have snow boots nor a hat. When I looked at her ungloved hands I would shiver and rush for shelter.

It was good seeing my sister. I love her. I missed her. The last time I had saw her in person was three years ago. I dropped her off at the airport in my old Ford Ranger. I had only got my license a few months before and it was my first time driving in a city. I took her to the Minneapolis airport where we managed to get hopelessly lost. By the time we got to the airport my sister was in tears. I was trying to keep my cool all the while my sister swore at me. I parked in one of the airports parking garage. She told me that was wrong. She told me we weren’t supposed to park there and that I was going to be the reason she missed her flight to Alaska. After listening to her cuss me out for the last half hour I wasn’t ready to be intimidated so I got out of the truck and told her she could either follow me or stay in the truck as I grabbed her luggage out of the bed and hustled my way to the airport transit system. She got out of the truck, tears streaming down her face, panic in her voice and continued to swear at me. She was dressed up all pretty in her high heels so no matter how much she tryed to catch up with me to stop me she couldn’t. We got the strangest looks from other commuters. This beautiful sobbing girl yelling at this shlumpy looking chick who was clearly being chased. I’m suprised security wasn’t called. It would turn out I was right about us being at the correct place for the airport. Despite this, my stubborn, crying, sister was not ready to admit this and after we arrived at security and she stopped to give me a hug I told her “I told you so.” She didn’t like that.

So the last time I saw my sister she was flouncing off, looking back at me, and saying “f**k you, Diamond!” Well, that was until a few days ago. I rode down with my grandma to pick my lovely sister up from the airport and I swear my heart grew again just seeng her in real life, watching her disembark off the escalator.

Life is full of these odd emotions. How is it possible to have utter joy and sorrow at the same time? Is that the human condition? How is that possible.

I also have enjoyed seeing Dad. I know him well though, I see him often. We hang out all the time when I’m not on adventure. After getting to Minneapolis and then heading North to see him we then took off to South Dakota. It was a beautiful ride from there to here. The sun was shining on the frosted trees making for a world of glitter all around. I sat with my knee close to the door as we drove through the sparkly scene. The wind seeped into the vehicle causing my leg to grow gradually colder. I found comfort in the beauty outside. We saw a sundog and I chose to take that as a sign of good fortune.

My sister called this evening. She called to say Happy Chinese new year. It is the year of the goat/ ram/ sheep this yesr. I am staying on my grandmas sheep farm so I am choosing to take that as a good omen too. Good omens, what are they good for? I guess making peace with life and death and all that.

It is the year of the ram.

Birds Eye View

I spent my last evening in Morro Bay helping at a community dimmer. The town is small, about the same size as the town I resided in for the past year. A small town of 10,000 with a very laid back artsy atmosphere. California has a systemic homeless problem. The world on this end of the United States is warm. Its liberal and accepting. Homeless folks fare better here than in cold climes.  Homeless people living on the street seems to be something easily gotten used to. It is an image that horrifies the first few times it is observed, but a sense of complacency builds as one begins to notice that it is EVERYWHERE. What am I supposed to do about it as a passerby? I can’t stop and help all of them.

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The community dinner I’m talking about is scheduled for every Monday.  A group of well meaning volunteers get together and fix food up for whomever wishes to come and partake. The food is paid for by a grant the. My friend, Karen, in Morro Bay is one of the volunteers. My last night in Morro Bay was a Monday. When Karen asked if I wanted to come I was excited, and said. The idea of helping out at a community dinner sounded wonderful to me. When we arrived I found that my help actually seemed unnecessary, the vetran volunteers cleary had a handle on the situation. I helped anyway. I layed hotdog buns out on a tray.  I tossed one of the three salads that were made up. I opened a few jars for the woman in charge of the dinner, her hands were arthritic and mine were not.  I washed four dishes. I served up some dumpcake in preparation for the arrival of the dinner attendees, and then I stood around. I chose to stand behind the desert section since it was near me and hand out the cake. It turned out that there were two of us behind the cakes and my help was somewhat on the unnecessary side. Someone endeed up bringing me a box of assorted cookies later on so handing those out became my, self-professed, job. I didn’t mind being basically useless, an extra bump on a log on an otherwise asthetitcally bumped log. It seemed that one extra bump, one extra happy face standing behind the tables filled with food, couldn’t hurt.

I was told to smile and offer kind words to the people who came in, so that’s what I did. The number of people who came to the dinner was somewhere near fifty. Some of those fifty appeared homeless, others just appeared to be down and out. Some of the people were disabled in one way or the other, and I assumed, some of the guests just came for the company they had become accustomed to at the Monday night dinner. They best thing was the smiles and kind words I received from across the table. The people were grateful for their full plates and were grateful for the top off I gave in the form of a cookie. My silly sense of humor seemed appreciated and people smiled back at me. People offered me kind words and smiles.

It was different looking at the disinfranchised from the angle I was at. I was handing them food, I wasn’t just walking past them on the street. It is a totally different vantage point from which to see the world. Helping and smiling, not passing and pitying.

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I saw a hawk yesterday. If you read the last post you know that the humming birds are known to frequent the feeders here. There are many many of them. Hummingbirds are always a treat for me. In Minnesota they seem so distant, so foriegn. I always see them like the top off of a cookie at the end of agood meal. Something to be excited about. Now, in Oceanside California,  the excitement is a constant hum, because I look out the window and see one, and then another appears and eventually there have been five fluttering around. They trade places, taking off and coming back. Hummingbirds could be the definition of a feeding frenzy. Maybe it should be called a humming hunger. Whatever it is, they eat fast and require feeder refills often. Andrea had taken the feeders down to refill them. They were washed, and drying, awaiting the sticky sugar concoction that had yet to boil on the stove. We were discussing something or other when I looked out the window, at the pomegranate tree, the same tree the feeders hang from. There, perched on one of the larges trunks, was a hawk. A big red tail with large muscular talons, checking out the scene. My biggest dissapointment at that moment was not having my camera on the counter beside me. I had never been that close to one of those beauties. The intial dissapointment only took a half a second of my time, my mind found itself elsewhere. My mind was in awe of this thing, so stately and noble. It reminded me of some of the most proud horses I have observed. The hawk was reminiscent of images of wolves I have looked at. It was a still (and large) version of the noble hummingbirds that he was looking to snack on. My thoughts went to my Grandpa. A strong man, who’s own character may have been embodied in that hawk. I thought about the summers that had passed, looking out his windows as he pointed at the family of hawks living in the trees behind his house. That was the closest I had been to a hawk til yesterday.

I did not get a picture of it.

And he did not get a hummingbird. He chose the wrong time to land on the tree. Without their feeders hanging thre wer no hummingbirds to be found. Vanished, vamoose, something the hawk probablt had a hand in doing. Fast, fleeting humming birds don’t want to be a cookie for a predator anymore than anyone else. Maybe, though, it wasn’t the wrong time. Maybe he was just posing. A spirit animal of some sort or the other. A bird that stopped by to say howdy and not actually to munch on birds.

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Yesterday was host to a birdcount, and Andrea, as an avid birdwatcher, took part. The hawk was added to her list.

I haven’t much to say today. I felt the need to write down some of my memories, the ones that put a smile on my face. Put those thoughts into words, and share the little cookies in my life that top off the good meal. Bon appétit.

What Twenty Dollars Gets You These Days And A Bunch Of Hummingbirds

I made the promise of good literature today and I am ready to come through with that.. finally (a little before midnight). It has been hours and hours of uncertainty before I could finally say that with confidence. Let me tell you.

Yesterday I called the cobbler almost right after publishing the last post. The cobbler was shocked I had to ask. “Of course they’re done,” he told me. When I asked the price he told me to name a number. I nervously tossed that response aside saying I would do that after I saw them. I wanted to say $40, but I had a small nagging voice that told me I shouldn’t insult him. He asked me to tell him my phone number so I rattled it off with the usual stuttering of a person who still hasnt memorized their own number after four months. I heard papers rustling. “Ok, it’s twenty,” he said

“Twenty dollars?!?!” I questioned.

“No forty,” he changed his mind.

“Ok that sounds more like it.”

I heard chuckling on the other end.  “No, twenty dollars is all it is.” My mouth fell, I was glad we were talking over the phone and not in person where he could see my astonishment. I tried to contain my shock when I spoke again. I didn’t need him changing his mind for real. I thanked him and told him I’d be by to pay him little later.

When I told Andrea the grand total her response was similar to mine. “Twenty dollars?!?!”

We discussed my good fortune and awesomeness of the cobbler, and then Andrea told me that her vans brakes had gone out and it had to go to the shop. This changed all my scenarios for the day. I have been borrowing the farm truck to run around while the bike has been parked. The farm truck and the farm van are the two vehicles that Andrea has. The van is mainly meant for farmers markets and dropping off produce, but since it was out of play and at the shop,  it meant the truck would be used in its stead. This meant I didn’t actually have a vehicle to drive down to the cobblers in. This meant that I had to just live with the dreamy image of a twenty dollar bill floating through my head as it wrapped itself around my shiny, fixed, boots. What a beautiful exchange to think about. Things are the way they are on a farm and I wasn’t too put out by putting off the test ride. It was a beautiful day and I was happy enough to just stick around the house, soaking in the sunshine, and occupying my mind with other thoughts. Twenty dollars for fixed boots really lowers the stress levels it turns out.

Andrea also thought of another thing I could work on. She assigned me to the painting of a sign that hangs at the entrance to the farm. That certainly suited me. If I can’t ride than I might as well paint. Two of my most favorite things in the world really.

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Brookey totally posed for this photo. I call this her 'Girl With A Pearl Earing' glamor shot.

I painted for a while, and then it started to get foggy. The air temperature outside started to drop drastically. It went from what felt like 80° to somewhere near 50°. I didn’t really want to hang around in the garage at that point. Though I cleaned Andrea’s garage it still has the musty smell of a garage that never freezes. For this fact I don’t like to be in it without all the doors open. When it is 50° outside I don’t feel like leaving the doors open. My pickyness chased me into the house where I decide to prepare for dinner with the girls. I put on my fancy, Norwegian knit, sweater which sort of lended a properness to my grimy shop jeans if one didn’t look to close at the ensemble. I assumed the women wouldn’t.

Andrea had made a merengue, the first I’d ever had I believe, and while waiting for the girls I had to keep myself from sampling it. Instead I turned my eyes outward to observe the fog moving in. I started to write as I waited. A sample of that writing:

The fog is moving in and I swear it is putting the birds into more of a fluster. They appear to be fluttering around more than usual.

The rest was just about as deep. My mind was not up for writing the earlier, happier, thoughts of a twenty dollar bill and a pair of boots dancing through my mind. My opus was being obviously influenced by the impending weather. That’s ok, it happens to the best of us. The drama was only increased by a sudden barking from somewhere outside the house. I assumed it was Brookey. It sounded like the bark of the golden retriever. Inside her voice was joined by the overly vocal Stiches, a dog who lives to voice his opinion I have determined. I must have breathed in a little too much of the outside air because my brain seemed filled by the same fog. I wondered who could possibly be out there, and why the dogs were going crazy. My paranoia was on alert as I snuck out the door to check, cellphone in hand. The first time I cased the place I couldn’t find Brookey, but she continued to bark. Stiches followed me as made my way, stealthly. I went back inside to consider the options and then realized that Brookey’s bark sounded muffled, and as though it were coming from under Andrea’s office. After further contemplation I realized it wasn’t coming from the driveway or garden. I went back outside and made my way to the corner of the house where Andrea’s office is. I saw an open door and realized that there was a shed built into the house below the office. When I slowly peaked my head around the open door I saw Brookey snuffling her nose around a lawnmower. When she noticed me she picked up her head, she looked at me and then pointed her nose back to the mower, and she let out some more loud barks. “Oh shush” I told her. She looked at me, expectantly, and then back at the mower. I realized she was trying to tell me to move it. “Oh fine” I said keeping to my duo-syllablye sentences. I moved the machine a bit and then her nose went crazy snuffling. The scary zombie trespasser I had been imagining turned out to be just a squirrel. It was getting colder outside. I told Brookey to leave it and she reluctantly followed me, exiting the shed. I closed the door and Stiches escorted Brookey and I back into the house.

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There are awesome lizards everywhere right now.

That was as eventful as things got yesterday evening, except when I broke a serving dish. It had been weeks since my last relapse into breaking dishes so it was only to be expected, especially when surrounded by five, strong, capable women. If I were a betting woman I actually would have put money on the eventuality. Unfortunately I didn’t, and unfortunately I did break a dish, but other than that the evening was amazing and relaxing. It was a beautiful feeling to sink into the cozy atmosphere that these women inhabited. They had all been friends for years and so it could have been easy for me to have felt like the odd woman out. They wouldn’t have allowed it though. Andrea had left about an hour before the women started to arrive (leaving me to handle the case of the elusory zombie fog squirrel by myself, in an empty house) to go pick up the van from the shop. It would turn out that when she got there it was still up on the lift waiting on parts, and so that is why I was left on my lonesome for so long, even with the impending promise of guests.

The women arrived one by  one. And one by one they each gave me a hug or another show of warmth while delivering kind words and generous compliments about my percieved accomplishments. At first it was slightly intimidating, but I started right in on wine and that helped my humble innabilty to take a compliment turn into the ‘thank you’s’ that were actually appropriate for the situation.

The conversations were fun and lighthearted while also maintaining a, some what furcated, tone of seriousness that brought with it all the wisdom. The women knew how to talk. The easiness of the interaction made me soak up so much more than I realized. And though we all knew and acknowledged I was young none of the girls let it affect the way they included me. Well, except for the few times when they were to shy to let a dirty joke slip out, and the apologies of inappropriate language before every utterance of a curse word. They should have just asked my motorcycle buds, I have the filthiest mouth around, something devoloped from a life full of crud being soaked in through my ears. Regardless, it was neat to see that these women — proper as they might seem — were not foreigners to ‘impropriety,’ but that they also respected their status as wiser, older, women enough to impart proper, societal, manners in front of a young woman.

Fuck yes.

What I really mean to say, is yesterday was a blast. Dirty, grubby jeans, and all.

Today was the same, but as I said at the beginning of this written promulgation, it was hours and hours of uncertainty before I could finally say that with such assurance. Today started with me waking up, rolling over, and opening my stubborn eyelids, but let us fast forward a bit. I had breakfast while checking my emails, and as I finished all that Andrea told me the truck was all mine if I wanted to go fetch my boots. My excitement became a hum similar to that of the hummingbirds at the feeder, only twenty feet away.

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Don’t you love the way I introduced that picture, and integrated it right in? Not even a break in the story.

I slipped on my converse and I grabbed a handful of citrus in the form of three tangerines. Soon ithey wouldn’t be my only choice of footwear. I tried to slow my hustle as I nearly skipped towards the truck. Once in the truck my hustle was relaxed slightly by the old engine of the vehicle which wasn’t really feeling up to humming no matter what the birds around it were doing.

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(I did it again.)

That’s okay. A slow drive in the sunshine was perfect for some self reflection, something I managed to fit in amongst the images of dancing boots and the one twenty dollar bill I was planning on parting with. I arrived at the cobblers in high spirits and I left with even higher. In my hand I held my freshly fixed boot. Boots that had been given more than twenty dollars worth of care. The ripped straps had been patched. The scuffed heel had been  smoothed. The heel had been reattached and the hole had  been filled. Besides that, the boots had been oiled and the inner cushions had been reglued in the right positions, something that had been in need of being done for months because my way of walking had pushed them into different spots than where they were meant to be. If I had more to offer him I would of, but twenty dollars seemed like a love kiss from the Universe, so I took it. I promised to give him great reviews online, and that is a promise I will keep. Let me immortalize the words on this blog as well: if you are in SoCal and you need some leather work done, or shoe fixing to be completed, take them to Tom at One Day Shoe Repair. He literally saved my life.

Well, maybe not. But he did save my boots. Take a look.

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After I got these boots back to Andrea’s and got pictures of them, I showed them off, and I got over my nerves. I put the clean suckers on. They felt as great as they looked. I picked up the discarded and lonesome motorcycle helmet which was beginning to collect dust. I shook out the moth filled motorcyle jacket and admired the unscathed surface of the armor that had saved me. I considered what battle would be the one to finally dent it for the first time. Slow motion took hold as a an epic soundtrack faded in to the scene as I picked one shiny boot clad foot up off the ground and slowly pointed it in direction of Little Wing. One oiled boot in front of the other, the well versed sound of a heel making contact with the pavement echoed as I contemplated the first ride in a week and a half. The self doubt clattered amongst the click clack of my boots.  What if I had forgot how to ride? What if I forgot how to fix a motorcycle? What if I went down again and had to start all over? What if I hadn’t actually done everything and what if it all fell to pieces as I went up the hill? The thoughts filled my helmet as I put it on  my head. It tinged my fingers as I put on my gloves. The questions scaled an attack on my confidence up until I turned the key and started the engine. The familar sound of my steed comforted my remonstrations, and I felt my mind clear. I felt the calm sensation of confidence that the quiet sound of my Japanese one cylinder brings out in me, and then I went for my test ride.

Now I’m not going to try and fool you into thinking it was magnificent success, mainly because I’m tired and I am looking to finish this up. Another great reason for not doing so is because it was not. I got to the end of Andrea’s road, about a half mile down, and met the stop sign. I used that opportunity to do the very first test of my back brakes which were unresponsive. A thorough examination before heading back to Andrea’s was inconclusive.

I parked Little Wing. I went into the house and I read through the manuals. I reserched online, it was all inconclusive. I went back out to Little Wing and did a full tear down  of the brake pedal assembly. I put it back four different ways and was chagrined to find out that it went back together the same way I had taken it apart in the first place. I got back on Little Wing, started the engine, felt the calm wash over me, and went for a test ride. The brakes worked. They worked by pushing really far down on the pedal, about double the amount I had to push before the accident, but they worked. Now I just had to figure out why they were so sub par and sketchy.

I went back to the garage. I parked Little Wing, and I called my bike fixing buddy, Dan. We spoke on the phone for about an hour. It turns out my issue of the rear brakes wasn’t in the front assembly where I was using my foot, it was in the back, on the rear wheel. It wasn’t the drum brakes, I knew that. It turned out to be the brake arm where the cable attached. I had taken the brake arm off and I had put it back in the wrong position. After fixing this problem the rest of the minor tune ups just seemed like minutia, but valuable none the less.

Little Wing worked. Little Wing works.

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After I finished my mechanics for the day, I hung up the helmet, kicked off the boots. I slipped my feet into my converse and I made my way back out to the garage to bask in the last rays of sunlight, even if it was from under the cover of the shelter. I picked up a paintbrush, I picked up the sign, and I painted. I thought about Little Wing working, as properly fixed boots danced through my head.

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Now tell me, what makes a day more complete then succesful mechaniching and a paint brush full of paint? Tell me, seriously.

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Maybe the humming of small birds in a place akin to paradise. (See how I snuck that in again.)

The Oddyssey Of The Boots

My boots should be fixed today. The boots have been the only thing stopping the final conclusion of whether Little wing is fixed or not.

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It's all about the shoes.

I am standing by the phone, eagerly awaiting the phone call that will determine my plan for the rest of the day. If I get the call early I can get the boots and go for a long ride around the area. I am thinking of a nice ride to a neat, used, bookstore in Fallbrook to pick up more reading material (Maya Angelou and I have finished our conversation). There is also the art club, place, thing, I have been eyeing up. I’m not exactly sure what it is but I imagine it is a promising place to go meet fellow artists and explore. I might get to talk art which would be great especially in this sunshiny weather (but let’s be honest, what wouldn’t be great in this sunshiny weather?).

If it is a late phone call then a quick ride around the neighborhood is probably in order for Little Wing and I. It just so happens the girls are coming over for dinner tonight, here at Andrea’s. Peggy, the woman who had the amazing adobe house that I was  invited along to visit for the neighborhood Christmas party (which I wrote about here ), wanted to get to know me more the last time I was around. I left while she was still gone visiting relatives for the holidays. Anyway, she wants to talk more this evening so Andrea and the lovely gals from around the neighborhood want to make an evening of it.

Just an aside, when I say girls, I actually mean very young-at-heart older ladies. Peggy is nearing her 80’s now and just had a minor stroke. These women are wise with a lot to offer a young whippersnapper like myself, but I can barely tell because when we sit around a table I feel like I’m taliking to my peers. Their spirits are not a day over sixteen.

Since there is a dinner this evening it means I have a curfew, 5 p.m. this means if I get the boots back too late in the afternoon I cannot actually go for a ride til tomorrow.

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The fourth possibility is that, regardless of when I get the boots back, I will hop on Little Wing, ride him to the end of the block, and find that I, in fact, have more work to do. This option is the least appealing, but the most harrowing, and in fact could make for great literature. What could be more exciting than another bike fix?

I ask that, and honestly, I am not sincerely convinced that would make for the best story. There are better stories. Like this one:

Imagine picking up the boots at the cobbler, coming back to Andrea’s, and then hopping on Little Wing. I would rush off to the hardware store to purchase the last fixit attachments  for my commitments, so I can get them back on the bike. I ride like the wind through the curving roads of Andrea’s neighborhood. Little Wing rides just fine, nothing seems to be wrong. When I arrive at the store and buy the final attachments, which they magically have this time, I turn out to be two hundred millionth customer, and as such recieve a huge honking gift card to sell to some local in exchange for cash for my trip.

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That’s just one alternative. How ’bout another:

I get the motorcycle boots back, hop on Little Wing and ignore the dumb hardware store, which doesn’t have what I need (a fact I already tested). Instead I ride to the book store and then the art club. I walk into the art club, just peaking my nose around, and a well know San Diego artist pokes their nose around a corner and asks what I need. I tell them I need a tour, and they say most certainly. They ask what my interest is and we walk around the place and I tell them that I am an artist. Oh really? What do I do? Well everything I tell them but lately a lot of murals. Oh really? They would ask again. They would inform me that’s why they are down here. Someone in the small town wants to commission them but the truth is they are too busy to do it, and it’s too much of a commute, maybe I could do it they suggest. My face falls in shock but I recover quickly, maintain my cool, of course! I say and then the artist hands me a big honking check to get spent on the trip and he tells me that’s just the first installment.

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Makes for a great story doesn’t it? But I have another one.

I ride Little Wing through the curvy roads with no problems. I stop by the bookstore, I find a great book that I know I won’t want to put down. I stop by the art club, get an amazing tour and talk art. My stress levels are down because Little Wing doesn’t need any work. I walk to a coffeeshop after seeing all of the fascinating the art at the club thing. I order a hot tea, preferably herbal. I sit down, open up my new book, and read until 4:30 rolls around. Then I hop on a perfectly wonderful Little Wing and ride back to Andrea’s to have enlightening discussions with women I  admire.

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Now that is great literature. Screw this b.s. about Little Wing needing more work, or not having enough time to take him for a test ride. Imagination is a great way to weed out the dumb alternatives in a situation.

However, enough of this hyperbole. I think it is time I pick up the phone and call the cobbler. It might be time to take reality into my own hands. I need to take Little Wing for the first test ride. No worries, I will get back to all of you tomorrow with some great literature.

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An Ode To The Friend Of The Transient

It was a few weeks before the big adventure, sometime end of July or the burgeoning days of August, when I finally connected the dots about the people I would meet. I was going into the bank, if I remember correctly I was cashing the second to last check for the large mural I had just completed. finding a good parking space didn’t ever seem to be an easy task in Grand Rapids, MN around 3 p.m., at least not near my bank. I was fortunate on this day. I saw a motorcycle parked all by its lonesome and luckily enough there were a few parking spaces open near it. I had just started riding Little Wing a couple weeks before and I was still quite infatuated with just about everything he had to offer. It was before we had grown comfortable together, before the patina of adventure had taken a hold of his shiny blue tank or scuffed underbelly.  Even so, this didn’t stop me eyeing up every motorcycle I came in contact with. The bike Little Wing and I  parked beside was a black Harley Davidson. A cafe racer, not something I had seen parked often around this small town of 10,000 I was riding around. Cafe racers weren’t exactly the go to bike of motorcyclists in Grand Rapids.

I went into the bank and did my business. I talked to the friendly tellers about my newly acquired motorcycle — they were always curious — and I  reminded them all that I still had my Rebel I was looking to sell. They were always interested in the fact that I was riding, and ofcourse they all knew about my budding bike collection because the only time I would withdraw large sums of cash was when I had a new one in my sights. The discussion would switch between a mix of envy and empathy depending on the weather outside. On rainy days they would all coo over my drenched self, and on sunny days they would look at my riding gear longingly. The majority of them didn’t ride, but they all enjoyed a good chat about motorcycles, ofcourse I was more than willing to accommodate that discussion. Well, anyway, after I had deposited the check and the tellers and I discussed riding in sunshine I made my way back outside. Little Wing waited patiently, as did the Harley. I gave it another once over as I put my helmet on. I was eyeing it up from the front and buckling my chin strap when I looked up to see a young man, helmet in hand, exiting one of the stores. He approached the motorcycle and as he did I straightened up and told him I liked his bike. I asked him what it was and he told me it was a 750 and asked about mine. I told him. He was shocked (as many are) that a single could be a 650. The discussion blossomed as we exchanged bike talk.

He was young, a few years older than me I figured. I recognized him from the coffeeshop. I had served him coffee before, back when I still held my part time job as a barista, before I had to switch over to full time artist for efficiency sake. Neither one of us had bothered to strike up conversation then. At that point I was a server, and my secret life as motorcycle rider wasn’t written across my forehead the way it was when I had my helmet in hand. He was also hiding his secret life, or at least I had no way of identifying it. This meant neither of us would have known to bring the subject up. In this new setting, with helmets in hands (I had taken mine back off my head by this point),  bikes at our sixes, we had found comfort in our easily identifiable similarities.

Mike and I (as his name happened to be) eventually ran out of words about motorcycles. He wished me luck on my adventure,  which I had told him about.  I thanked him. We both left the conversation smiling. I was proud to be the first to peel off demonstrating Little Wing’s speed and my novice handeling. The interaction left a warm fuzzy feeling in my gut the rest of the day. When I told my roommate, Lea, about it I explained to her that the good feeling stemmed from the knowledge that these conversations would soon be a dime a dozen. Positive interactions with strangers outside of banks? Wasn’t that what I would find on the road? Making friends while openly living my (generally) secret identity for a full year? No more of the superficial conversation, the discussions on the street about about weather, we could skip that and start right off talking about motorcycles. If the conversation did turn to weather it would revolve around how that effected riding because my helmet would be in my hand when I entering the dialogue. I wouldn’t be standing behind a til unwittingly handing coffee to riders without further discussion. I would be riding amongst riders. I would be riding amongst people. I would be on adventure and everyone I met would be able to talk to me from that level. Life for me would be pretty clear cut, my goals written across my forehead, and the conversations revolving around written goals would be honest and enlightening. I told Lea that this was just a sign of things to come. I was right.

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A sign of things to come.

Despite my accurate predictions, I wasn’t as prepared as I thought I was. I knew it was coming, but somehow I was still taken by surprise. People came out of the woodwork, just as I suspected, but my mind had trouble comprehending at first. People like Mike have struck up conversation with me, or I have struck up conversation with them. People have given me shelter. They have given me sustenance. People have given me little gifts to help me along in the journey.  Each interaction has caused me to bust out, and branch forth, a wee bit more. I was standing around yesterday, thinking about growth, thinking about all the people I’ve met, when the memory of Mike’s face came floating in front of my mind’s eye. That started a torrent of memories to come cascading down. An innumerable amount of people.

There was the one gas station In Wyoming where I was stopped by two bikers who I inadvertently insulted. Both wearing their leathers, they came over to take a look at Little Wing. The insult came in when I told them that though as thumpy as a Harley with it’s on cylinder Little Wing was smaller and therefore had less to maintain. The more talkative of these two guys,  who were somewhere in their late 50’s, gave me a look and threw his extended thumb over his shoulder as he gestured back towards his and his friend’s bikes. “You have Harley’s, huh?” I asked. They both nodded and I laughed, shrugging my shoulders, “if the shoe fits,” I said. The more talkative of the two threw his head back and laughed as he gave me a good thump on the right shoulder, causing me to lose a little of the gasoline on Little Wing’s tank. As I continued to fill up they asked where I was headed to. I told them about the adventure across country, but how, at that very moment I was just headed towards warmer climes, mainly at the coast. The asked if I was taking The 1 down  the coast  and I told them that was the goal. They both warned me about this. They said it was busy and that cars didn’t slow for anyone, including bikers. They told me that one had to keep their eyes always focused on the winding road because it was unpredictable. They advised me to consider Highway 101 instead. I said I would chew on that idea. By this time Little Wing had his fuel and I had mopped up the extra gasoline that had spilled on the tank. The guys told me to ride safely and gave me big grins as they told me to have fun. Bikers always have good words to share.

As I got on thebike a woman came out, her vehicle was parked behind me, she put a hand on the same shoulder the more talkative biker had thumped, and I turned with a start to look at her. She told me good luck on my journey. I figured she must have overheard the loud conversation between me and the two big bikers. I gave her a big grin as I slid on my gloves, and I wished the same to her.

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Earlier in  Wyoming I had stopped at a gas station, one of the few on the East part of the state. It had an old pump from the 1980’s and also didn’t require prepay. I filled up and then went in to and use the restroom and pay. I stood in front of the cash register offering my card to the woman. She informed I had to spend a certain amount to use the card so I grabbed a couple chocolates and tossed them on top of the purchase. She swiped the card and I scooped up my chocolates and started unwrapping one as I wished her a great day. I reached for the door handle just as it started to open. I grabbed it and  swung it open for a woman in her late thirties. I smiled and she said thank you. As I said no problem she spoke again to tell me have a safe trip with a smile that filled her whole face. It was my turn to say thank you, but I am not sure she heard as she stepped lively towards the bathroom. I wondered how she knew, I wanted to ask. I was slightly shocked until I realized, while walking towards Little Wing, that we were the only two vehicles at the gas station and she was parked right behind me. I sat on Little Wing and ate my chocolate and considered how conspicuous I was. Small bike, loaded down, Minnesota license plate in bohunk Wyoming, I was clearly a traveler. I pulled away with a smile on my face.

It is amazing how people have stepped up to wish me well. Words one doesn’t get while working the til at the coffeeshop unless someone already knows you. Words people don’t give when driving around in a truck. On motorcycles riders are openly exposed to elements and vehicles around them. We are more susceptible to the negative affects of heat, cold, rain, sun, or bad drivers. But on the other hand we are also more open to kindness from strangers. Our tender underbellies are bare to all who can identify it. Fellow bikers know because they live that secret identity too. Others just see it and want to wish that part luck and safety. As I have exemplified quite well, bikers are prone to the elements, but we are also receptive to kindness and strangers. It has something to do with the walking/riding bill board we become when the words are written across our forehead. People are fascinated by the freedom, and interested in the adventure.  They are concerned for the safety and curious about the person willing to take on all that. It exposes me to a whole group of caring, interested folks, who give a shit, and that just might be the best part.

The people I meet, it is a large part of the adventure. I have had a lot of people say real positive things to this affect on the comments, and in emails, messages, texts, in person, over the last week, and I agree. People are fantastic. I really like all of you.

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Humans have shown me why it is that we should have faith in one another, and I am so grateful for that.

Thank you for being one of those interested, curious, concerened people in my life and in this world.

Heart Rocks

I got a card and a heart rock from a friend yesterday.

A heart rock is any rock that has even a faint resemblence to a heart. It may be shaped like one or have a heart design on it. The shape must have two bumps on one side and taper out at the bottom.

And how do I know this? Because my friend in Morro Bay collects them. She is also the one who sent it to me. She also sent me a card with the face of a strong woman on it. The woman is a painted one and she is very lovely. She looks strong and at peace, traits  I respect in anyone, but especially females.

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It was a nice gift. A beautiful token of kindness, exactly the kind of thing I needed yesterday; a fact I was unaware of until I opened it.

I worked on Little Wing yesterday; I finished working on Little Wing yesterday. I had the footpeg bracket that was boggling my mind. My first answer was to pry at it. My second answer was to pound at it, then I went back to prying. After prying didn’t work again I switched to filing. When that didn’t work I switched back to prying and a nice arrangment of cuss words. Well, it turned out prying still wasnt the answer so I took the bracket into my host Andrea. I showed her, I explained the situation and then I was rewarded with an answer. She knew a man who fixes cars and has has a fulll shop. Sounded like a great solution to me.

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Stiches is a friendly dog. He likes helping me in the shop and licking my ear when I am taking photographs. I like him.

She gave me his number and I called. We played phone tag for a bit, starting with him not answering and then me not answering, but third times a charm. We got through, he told me to come on over. Andrea being the sweetie she is, handed me the keys to the farm truck and told me where to go. Honestly, maybe it is just me, but after a person  manages two accidents within five minutes I may have been hesitant allowing them to drive my vehicle. Regardless of the circumstances I’m not that sweet. I didn’t mention  this to Andrea, I just gladly borrowed the wheels and putted down to this mechanics place.

His name was Rhett. I have never met a Rhett, but Rhett Butler played a vital role in my formative years when I read of his and Scarlett’s love in the fourth grade. An epic drama of getting it wrong with the one you claim to love, and then nearly dying, before finally admitting that honesty is the best policy, intermixed with kissing and sexual tension, all at the ripe age of ten. One never forgets a name like Rhett after that. Amazingly though, this mechanic appeared to be more sane than the other Rhett. He didn’t have women wimpering around him, and he didn’t even have a mustache (did Rhett have a mustache in the book or was that just the movie? I guess it has been a little too long since I picked up that tome). That really didn’t bother me but I guess I had come into the situation with a few preconceived notions.

What Rhett did have was a shop. A small garage that was jam packed with every tool one could ever imagine for fixing cars. He was working on putting new shocks on a jeep in this tight, crammed, space, and that is the job I interrupted him on. We barely had enough room to skinny through, even when we wedged ourselves through the walk way sideways. It is important to learn to make do with what one has, but holy shit, this guy must have been good. Well, and he was! I know because I handed him the footpeg bracket, explained the problem in a long winded explanation, and when I finally handed it to him he was off in a flash. It almost took him less time to fix it than it did for me to explain it. First he took it over to his metal work bench and pryed it. Then he put it in his vice and pounded it. A little more prying, a lot more pounding and he had that bugger straightened out. The difference between what he dic and what I had done was the right tools and expertise, but honestly, he made that look as though thise sorts of things were easy to come by. I just stood idly by as he whipped his way around that shop, the only thing that slowed him down were the very slenderest of the channels he had to pass through to get on over to the next tool. After reshaping the bracket he took it over to the drill press to drill out the bolt that had broken off. Zzziiiippp ziiiiirrrrrrppppp. And that was done. And off he went, skinnying his way to the out side of the shop (as I tagged behind as swiftly as the crowded area would allow) to file the bugger into submission and make it less sharp. Next he was off to the shed which he told me was the hardware shed. There he grabbed a new bolt and nut. It was less than ten minutes later and I had a working footpeg bracket and the whole shebang was ready to be reattached to Little Wing. I thanked him heartily. My first ride on fixed Little Wing is going to be to his place with some cash and jar of Jam that Andrea’s friend, Barb, told me to pass on. His work and time is what allowed me to finish the work on Little Wing.

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I took the garbage out for Andrea this morning. The garbages here are down by the packing shed. There is a row of about ten cans to choose from, which is something needed on a farm I suspect. The packing shed is where all the produce gets taken care of and boxed up to be taken off to market, or sent to the different retailers that want organic produce. It is also where all the guys hang out whem not in the fields. The guys being the tough farm workers who mainly don’t speak my language. They were the dudes who helped me to get Little Wing up on a center stand, a block of Madrona, so I could take off the back tire. Well I did that. Actually they helped me with the disassembling too, because they are dolls. Putting the tire back on though, that was all on me. I wrestled it on there like a monkey. All hands working, and both feet as well. It took me about an hour,  but I got it on there. The place the tire was meant to go was a good foot or so off the ground. I used my hands to lift the tire up, but I also had to use them to slide all the pieces in place and reinsert the axle, so my feet ended up holding the tire as I did this. It was a miracle Little Wing and I survived. It was such an ordeal.

Anyway, back to taking out the trash, I did that this morning. I walked down to the packing shed and tossed the garbage into the bin, but honestly that isn’t where I’m going with this story. It is the next part that is more important. After tossing the trash into the bin I walked to to the packing shed looking for some of the guys. I heard the Spanish radio station blaring out Spanish commercials as I entered, but I didn’t see anyone. As I looked around I heard a voice ask if I was looking for something. It was Little José, José’s son. José and Little José were the two that helped me get the bike up in the first place Little José is bilingual so he speaks both languages well. I was happy to run into him for this reason. I told him I needed to get the bike off the center stand and I was wondering if he could help. He said yes and as we walked towards the garage he stopped another worker and asked him to help out. The two guys lifted Little Wing’s rear end up while I knocked the chunk of Madrona out. I thanked the guys. All that was left was to start it.

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One of the worker spraying soap on the strawberries to get rid of the spider mites. An organic farm means no pesticides, and it also means this guys are doing double duty with the soap.

As I type this I’m lying on a soft patch of grass in the sunshine. A small breeze is making the leaves dance while the birds sing conflicting songs in a perfect medley. I can look out over a farm filled with strawberries, and the closest object to me is a coat of butterscotch fur. Brookey, the golden retriver, is breathing her doggy pant and I am holding her paw. What she really wants is for me to stop typing and just give her pets. She doesnt like this screen as much as she likes me, I can tell. I’m not sure I could imagine a more lovely afternoon.

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Brookey and Foxey wrastling yesterday, the two sisters. I can relate to this. These gals appeared to be playing tug of war, but later we figured out the girls were working together to destuff the red figure.

After Little Wing’s tires were both firmly planted on the Earth I rolled him out of the garage and started him up. He started, but that wasn’t ever in question. I accelerated and tried the back brakes, they worked. I rested my foot firmly on the back brakes and twisted the throttle, I didn’t move forward. You know what that means? Little Wing appears to be in working order. Sounds great to me.

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The remains.

Now I have boots to worry about. Riding boots that need fixing. Silly me, I didn’t even consider them til I was done with Little Wing and wanted to go for a ride. If I had thought of it yesterday I could have looked around for a cobbler, I didn’t. I searched around today for one that sounded dependable. I found the one I like, but he’s not open til Monday. This means I have a few days to wait to go on  a ride, because I’m not risking these busy, skinny, hilly roads around Andrea’s with my skimpy converse. So what I did instead was pick up an old broken light fixture that was laying in Andrea’s garage. It needs work. When I was cleaning the garage she said she wanted to hang it in her living room when she got it but it was a bit of a fixer upper and she didn’t have the time. I do. Plus, after working on the bike for a few days another hands on project sounds great. It’ll keep my mind of my boots. The lamp doesn’t appear to need much rewiring just some love as far as the actual body is concerned. I got out the epoxy and now I’m just waiting for it to set up before doing more.

I’m playing the waiting game now. You know, if this game involves golden retrievers , sunshine and soft turf I don’t think I mind. I can play awhile longer. If this game continues too send good people my way with jam and fully stocked shops I’m okay. If the waiting game includes heart rocks and pretty cards I think I can win.