Thursday, December 15, 2011

My New Obsession

My thoughts about how to be present to enjoy life in the moment have alighted on something that should have been obvious to me a long time ago:   motorcycles make any trip an adventure, and I should have one!

It's not like I'm unfamiliar with the fun of motorcycles.  I grew up around them, because my dad always had a motorcycle.  Dad would travel across the country in a few days on his.  Really.  From California to Florida on a whim.  That's freedom!  Motorcycles satisified his need for a change of scene and made him feel more alive to just take off on his motorcycle. He identified himself by the style of bike he rode - which was always a Japanese-made performance bike of some kind.  Something with speed and power and good handling.  He loathed everything about a Harley, as he knew them back then:  always breaking down, loud for loud's sake, and not nimble on curvy roads.  Dad always wanted to go fast.

My Grandad always had a motorcycle, too.  In fact, I would ride his when I was a teenager.  It was a lot of fun, and I loved the thrill of it.  I can't remember what it was, exactly, but I think it was a Scrambler, and it looked a lot like this:

It could be ridden on and off road, and I used to ride it near our house in Durango, Colorado with out our neighbor, Eddie, who taught me to ride motorcross, too.  I raced once.  Just once.  And on a bigger bike than this, which was designed for motorcross.  That was scary!

I rode a few more times in my late teens and early 20's.  I remember riding a friend's motorcycle in Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming, when I was on a day off from my lodge job there.  I was 18.  I didn't have a motorcycle endorsement on my license, and I don't even know if one was required back then in Wyoming.  I didn't even think about that.  I just went for a ride with the Tetons as the backdrop - gorgeous memories. 

A year or so later I rode dirt bikes when I was stationed at Eglin Air Force Base in the Air Force.  My friend, Bud, had a couple and he would take me out on the Eglin AFB reservation where we tore it up and had a blast.  The dirt was very sandy and there were lots of trees, which ended up being the disaster it sounds like it could be.  I slid out and lost control of the bike and went over the handlebars into a tree, and hurt my neck.  I didn't realize how badly till later that evening at a squadron dinner when I was in severe pain, and had to go to the hospital to be looked at.  I'm pretty sure that was the last time I rode a motorcycle on my own.  It's not that I was afraid.  Not at all.  I just never had my own, and didn't find myself in a position to ride one, other than on the back of someone else's.

This past Summer, my friend, Shellie invited me to meet her out at "Taco Wednesdays" at the Corner Saloon, where bikers gather every Wednesday to eat $1 tacos and drink beer and look at each other's bikes.  Shellie rides a Harley, so I initially wondered why I should go, since all I had to show up in was my Subaru Forester.  Shellie sold me on the idea that it was a fun bunch of people, and some other people I  knew would be there, who also didn't have bikes.  It wasn't a hard sell.  Shellie is always fun.  She's my adventure buddy!  So I headed over there, and had a great time.  One of Shellie's friends, a nice guy named Michael, asked me if I wanted to go for a ride.  Of course I was game, and hopped on back.  The weather was perfect for a ride, and it was just gorgeous out where we rode.  Rolling hills, blue skies, rural countryside.  I really enjoyed myself, and was sad when we had to head back.

My second invite of the evening came from the owner of a Triumph Bonneville I had been admiring, not realizing the owner was a few yards away watching me.  His name, as it turns out, was Brad.  Brad had just ridden back into Portland from Montana, where he has another home.  He was tired from that trip, so I was pretty surprised when he asked me if I wanted to take a ride.  I am so glad he did.  Riding as the sky is changing colors and the moon is rising is just spectacular on a late Summer's eve.  I became officially hooked, and started plotting how to have my own motorcyle. 

That was the end of August.  By October, I had taken the Motorcycle Safety Course offered through Team Oregon, and has purchased my first motorcycle.  I spent the weeks between that fateful evening ride and finally purchasing a bike, pouring through Craigslist looking for bikes that looked like the one I loved that my Grandfather owned.  I like that look of a Standard Japanese Sport bike of the late '60's and early '70's.  I also like the old Triumphs.  I just didn't really want an old bike, since I'm no mechanic, and I wanted something easy and reliable.  How disappointed I felt seeing all the newer models.  There are some nice looking bikes out there from the "crotch rockets" to the big old Harley Cruisers. They just weren't what I had my heart set on.  I considered a new Triumph, but they were spendy, and BIG for me.  Just too tall for this new rider.  I considered a Harley Sportster, but they are also big bikes, though I can put my feet down on the ground.  883ccs seemed like overkill for me, as a new rider, and I just wasn't completely in love with the style.  Call it sentimentalilty, but I wanted a bike that looked like James Dean or Marlon Brando should be sitting on it.  One late night, just when I thought I was going to have to settle until I was ready for one of the bigger Triumphs, when I came across a web article titled, Perfect Motorcycles for New Riders.  I opened it up and saw many of the bikes I had already considered.  Ho Hum.  Then, I saw this:

It was love at first sight!

Even better were all the great reviews about this little known bike, the Suzuki TU250X!  I found it got great gas mileage (70+ MPG), and is fuel injected!  No carburetors to mess with, just turn it on and hit the starter - vroom!  I'm just so happy to have found it and to own it.  It's only 326 lbs soaking wet, so I have no problem handling it, even at slower speeds and tight corners.  I love it's extra large, vintage headlight.  It is very responsive, because of the standard positioning of the front wheel (a physics thing)  There are just many, many reasons it's a great bike for me a new road rider.  I absolutely LOVE leaning into curves on this bike.  So dang fun! 

Riding in Autumn has been chilly, but very special.  New-mown hay fields smell wonderful, as do the apple orchards full of trees which are dropping over-ripe fruit to the ground.  The orchards are delightful, actually - fruity with a hint of wood and spices.  Can't explain it.  I never realized how many scents hang in the air like that, and how you just don't notice them in a car.  I enjoy smelling people's dinners cooking and laundry drying too.  Cow country is a little stinky though!   So far, those unpleasant whiffs of cow excrement have been brief.  Maybe it's the chill air. All I know is I love riding, and when I'm not riding I'm thinking about it.  And, I still love riding at sunset.  It's simply beautiful. 

I can hardly wait till Summer to take my motorcycle out on a trip out to Eastern Oregon to camp and shoot pictures.  The adventure will start the minute I leave the house!

I'm a little sad that the weather is more wintry now.  I rode in to work today, but even the light rain that was falling as I got closer to the office was unpleasant stinging my face.  Still, the minute it stopped, it was all worth it.  I  rode up toward Mount Hood on the weekend of my birthday, December 3rd.  I had considered going around the mountain, since the sun was shining, it was around 48 degrees in the valley, and it had been dry for a couple of days.  But by the time I stopped at Wraptitude in Welches to get something to eat, I knew I was turning around and heading back down.  Just too cold at that altitude!  I did take a picture of my motorcycle there.  It's the only one I've taken.  I've just not had my camera with me, or the battery in my cell phone has died when I think about it.  I don't know...I only want to ride and shooting pics isn't what I think about when I take off.  It's sort of a zen experience.  I'll surely write more about that.  For the time being, I'm just enjoying each moment I can be out there. 

Here's that one picture:

Just looking at that, I'm anxious to wrap up this post and go get on the bike to head home.  :)

Monday, September 5, 2011

River Art

Today I played at Three Pools Recreational Area on the Little North Fork of the Santium River. I loved the way the rocks and lichen looked under the clear water. Here is a series of my favorites.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011


I was off to a slow start yesterday. I was distracted and brought low by some difficult communications with someone I have been very close to, but with whom I'm not sure about how I can maintain a future friendship with - and that was affecting my ability to focus at work, where I really need to be focused. It's a do or die month for me. It's got the potential to be a very, very rewarding month, and I need to keep my eye on the prize and not doubt myself. I wasn't doing that.

Then, as I slowly brought myself back around, something remarkable happened to lift my spirits. One of my work colleagues sent me a text with unsolicited compliments on my skills as a salesperson on this team, and he thanked me for the help I'd given him and others in the past. It was a small gesture, which had a huge impact on my day. I felt appreciated and validated, and immediately I found myself surging forward with renewed confidence in my capabilities and ability to bring new clients into our fold.

Later I received an unsolicited email from our financier, who helps firms finance their purchase from us. Here is what he wrote:
Subject: Keep Smiling ..all good things go to those who wait
Sometimes is seems that everything goes in the opposite direction we want them to and it gets frustrating and exasperating.. patience always wins out to those who have laid the proper and consistent foundation .. you are a WINNER and only good things are coming you're way !!
If things get too cloudy and dark I know a great place to dine and drink on the BEACH !!!
Wow! More support when I needed it. This made me feel great - and cared for. Just the right words to hear.

And then, a little later, I closed a deal (with financing - haha!)!!!  It was a great way to start this critical month off.  I'm so delighted!

I love it when you reach out to the universe (God, Love, Faith in the good of life....all those things are what I mean) and the universe reaches out to meet you halfway.

My faith is fully restored and I am so thankful for all the good in my life.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Long time no write.

So many times I've come here to write, and so many times I've opted not to.  Just wasn't feeling it.  Truth be known, work has been very challenging this year, and ever since I was sick for a month and a half back in January, I've been feeling a bit low.   I think because I lost some of my fitness and let the stress of work knock me back even further in that regard. 

I'm not even sure what I want to write about;  I just know that I've never been completely knocked down, nor do I plan to be, and I want to get the juices flowing again. Maybe if I just start.

Another problem with writing is that my home computer is not running well, so usually I just don't feel like trying to get on it.  Also, my camera lens has been broken since our Spring Break trip to Kah Nee Tah, when the ability to focus and zoom went away.  Feels like something, like a grain of sand or something, might have gotten into the mechanism.  In any case, I've not gotten it repaired, and it's been a strange Spring and Summer without photography.  I miss it, and have a harder time wanting to post in my blog without pictures. 

That said, I feel good right now.  I have been keeping my head above water and have been regaining some clarity about things I'd gotten fuzzy about for a while during all of the stress this year.  I've also been finding new questions to ask myself about what direction I want my life to take.  I feel like I'm in a cycle of change right now, and that is always exciting and sometimes scary - but I haven't figured out what exactly what the change specifically is right now. 

Maybe tonight I'll try and post pics from the Kah Nee Ta trip, since nobody's seen those, and I'll start thinking about the specific things I want to tackle, and take it one topic at a time...

Friday, March 11, 2011

I swore I'd never do it again...

...but my kids begged and begged until I rather spontaneously gave in and and went to the humane society, ostensibly, to "look."  But we didn't just look.  I wound up falling for and adopting some grown kitties for them last weekend.  I found myself a little shocked at what I had done, considering how much I had been against this for so long.  I just hadn't wanted more to look after.  Yet, here we are with two new family members, and my kids are so delighted.

Turns out they are really nice cats who have shown no bad habits since they've been here for about a week.  They always use the litter box, and as was promised, Stella scoops it twice a day.  They scratch their scratch pads only and play with their toys.  The kids are enjoying them so well, and don't ask me to be on the computer nearly as much as they had been, because they play with the cats so much.  And they have been great about feeding, watering and brushing the cats, too.

Each cat has its own unique personality and good looks.  Cassie is all black, very elegant, and is very, very sweet.  Her personality reminds me of my cat, Leonard, in that she likes to be near us, usually finding a spot to hang out within close proximity of anyone reading or watching tv on the sofa.  She's very mellow, and was completely unphased by our black lab, Molly, when they met.  Also like Leonard, she doesn't climb all over you to show affection;  she simply gives you a gentle head-butt from time to time.  Did I mention she's elegant, gorgeous and very fluffy and soft?  I really, really like her. 

Roger, the grey and white kitty, is younger and more active.  He is somewhat aloof and independent, except when someone provides something to chase.  Then he's wants to be wherever you are with the toy.  At 2 years old, he is still very playful and entertains the kids endlessly!  And, I think he is starting to warm up to us more, too, and he's quite handsome himself.  Neither of them seem to mind being inside all the time, which I'm glad of, since they really need to be at home here for awhile.

My only bad feelings about this decision are that I put the cart before the horse when I impulsively adopted these cats. I had a brief conversation, some months ago with the property manager of the house I rent, in which he said he could ask the owners if it was alright to have cats.  I was just testing the waters, still not really keen on actually getting cats, though I was being pressured by my children.  He never said yes, and I should have waited till I talked with him again, and obtained permission.  I feel badly that I acted impulsively and then had to call him after the fact to ask if what I had done was ok.  I put him on the spot, and I'm not proud of that.  Not sure what I was thinking.  When I called to tell him what I'd done, he did say it was ok and was very nice about it, but I think he felt resentful that I had handled it that way.  I certainly don't blame him for that.  To make it worse, this is a friend - the father of one of Stella's good friends from school.  He's someone I respect and really like.  I felt very relieved that he let me slide by allowing the cats, because I knew how disappointed the kids would be if we couldn't keep them, but I am ashamed of myself all the same.

Today he let me know via text that he was surprised I had two.  The Monday after I got them, I called him to tell him about both, but apparently I wasn't clear, so I've got a knot in my stomach about that now, too.   I've confirmed that there are, indeed, two, and that they are well-behaved, but he hasn't responded back to me to let me know if everything is still OK.  I hate this awkwardness, and feel I don't have a leg to stand on in defending my actions.  I wish I could have a do-over.

How can pretty, fun creatures like these represent so much agony in my heart right now?

Stella named her "Cassandra," and we also call her "Cassie."

Her fur has been shaved on her back near her tail, because she had wounds which needed treatment.

Cassie LOVES these little furry balls with the tinsel sticking out.

Starting to get frisky with it...


"What's that noise?"

Love her big, gold eyes. 

This is Roger, whom Stella also named.

I need to trim Roger's collar.  He has quite the intense look, doesn't he?

I'm so grateful that both of these characters really love these scratch pads.

Handsome boy relaxing on my bed for the first time, today.

This is my favorite photo of Roger.  Notice how my bedspread pattern looks like kitty head, and the green matches his eyes!
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Saturday, February 19, 2011

First Dance

Stella got all prettied up for her first dance tonight. She and her Dad have a date to the Daddy/Daughter Dance at the Southwest Community Center. They joined her two best friends and their dads for a masquerade ball and other fun. I can't believe how much Stella's growing up. She looked lovely tonight and so did her friends. All beautiful, wonderful girls. The dads all looked handsome and proud - and they rode off together in style! 

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Another Gorge hike in Winter - Tanner Creek Trail to Dublin Lake

I went on another 12 mile hike in the Gorge today, with Randy, who is a hike leader for Portland Hiking Group.  It's been great to connect up with this group!  It was just the two of us today, and we decided to scout out this hike, which neither of us have been on before, to see if it would make a good overnight trip later in the Summer.  After grabbing a yummy early-morning breakfast at Fat City Cafe here in my Multnomah Village neighborhood, we headed on down the road to a trailhead just above the Bonneville Dam.  We started out on a old Forest Service Road and then climbed...and climbed...and climbed.  This was definitely a challenging hike for me and the best workout I've had in a while.  A few more like this, and I will be ready for anything, I tell you!

I didn't take as many pictures as I usually do, in part because I was working hard, and didn't want my heavy camera around my neck or hanging off my shoulder, which is what would be required to have it at the ready.  The other reason is that this was one of those hikes with landscapes I couldn't quite capture well without a tripod, which I did not bring.  I did capture an amazing landslide early on, and and a few other shots along the way. 

We made it to where the trail heads down to Dublin Lake, but decided not to climb down, because it was very steep and covered with hard packed snow.  It would have been hairy going down, and grueling (for me) coming back.  My legs had had enough!

As tough, physically, as it was for me, I had a really lovely day.  Randy is upbeat, funny and a great hiking partner, and it was gorgeous out for nearly all of our hike.  We did feel the effects of a storm that rolled in, when heavy winds roared through the trees we walked through while still pretty high up in the Mark O. Hatfield Wilderness area.  It was very loud and the trees swayed like crazy.  And when the wind wasn't too loud, we could hear some of the trees creak and groan.  It was eerie, but pretty neat, too.

I took a fall on the way back down the trail, which was a doozy and I don't think I've ever done that out hiking.  I tripped, but couldn't catch myself with my other foot as I usually do, because it also got hooked up, so I went flying!  I landed a pretty good ways away from where I actually fell,and broke my fall with my elbow, which smarted pretty good.  Thankfully, Randy had motrin which really helped with the stiffness and pain I started feeling further down the trail.  I tore the right knee of my Smart Wool leggings a little, but somehow have no mark and no soreness in that knee.  I am lucky I didn't incur any serious injuries.  My elbow hurt, but is feeling fine now.  The main pain I really felt as I landed, was from the serious charlie horse which seized up my left calf muscles.  I must have stiffened trying to catch myself and triggered that spasm.  It HURT!  But I stretched it out, and got up and hiked the rest of the way down without too much problem. 

I was ever so happy to reach the truck and sit in the comfy bucket seats.  I felt great after all that excercise and was ready to relax!  We stopped at the McMenamins near Mall 205, because Edgefield was packed out and had 0 parking available.  I enjoyed my glass of Black Rabbit Red wine and my Captain Neon Burger quite well tonight!!

Here are a few pictures from the day:

The mud and rockslide.

More mud and rockslide...

Randy and the slide - can't remember what we were laughing about...

Check out this crazy trench left behind from the slide!

Some moss-covered rocks, who clearly haven't been rolling down the mountain lately.  :)

Some falls along the way.

And yet more falls!

I haven't done these falls justice.  They were so pretty!

View with Powerlines

Randy in the open area where the trees were removed for the powerlines coming up from the dam.

Baby Hemlocks

These were some of the trees which got whipped about pretty well by the wind, as we walked through. 

Again, by the place cleared for the powerlines.

Monday, February 7, 2011


I've been very content these days, and it if weren't so late, I'd likely try to capture my feelings about it more poetically. For now I just feel the need to mark the realization that I've just been comfortable in my skin for weeks on end, it seems.  Work has been both demanding and rewarding, and there have been some ups and downs at home..  I'm not as fit as I'd like to be, though I've enjoyed working on fixing that. There are areas of my home which I'd really like to better organized, even as I create lovely spaces in others parts of the house.  I 've been stepping outside of some of my norms by hiking with new people, and also remembering to take more time alone at other times.  Life has not really changed dramatically, but there have been splashes of real change and also tiresome old problems that crop up still, but despite the sometimes chaotic flow of life around me, both good and bad, I'm finding that, at my core, I am still and quiet and peaceful. 

I like this sense of quietude at the center of me.   I am calm and observant and unworried.  It's been there before, that nugget of calm at my core, but it seems it's growing and affecting more of my life every day.  I see it in how I handle setbacks, and how I react to good tidings and postive excitement, too.  I can smile inwardly and enjoy things without worrying what will be next.  I am relaxed and confident in my dealings with people, and I don't give anything or anyone over much thought, except to engage things and people in the current moment.  I like being present and centered like this.  I find I make new friends and enjoy old ones very easily when I'm like this - even more so than usual. I feel no nervous self-consciousness.  I'm just me, here and now, and I'm finding that people truly like talking to me and I enjoy them as well.  And it's all very natural and comfortable.  It has made work a very relaxed endeavor, even as I strive to stay focused and make more calls.

The more I try to explain what feels so right, the less I feel I have adequately done so.  But that's okay.  I know what I mean and I am not anxious about it.   I will go to sleep tonight with a contended, grateful heart, very much at peace with the world.

Monday, January 31, 2011

Revisting Eagle Creek

I've hiked Eagle Creek trail to Tunnel Falls at least a dozen times.  It's an easily accessible hike on the Oregon side of the Columbia River Gorge and I've had many opportunities to photograph the verdant landscapes and dramatic falls along the path.  This past Sunday, I revisited Eagle Creek with a group from Portland Hiking Meetup and it was my favorite trip yet, especially for photography.  Firstly, I had my DSLR with me on this hike for the first time, so I had a better chance to get good shots, but also, the sights were stunning this time around due to the weather conditions.  Hiking Eagle Creek in Winter means the falls are flowing fully and the creek is swollen and fast.  I've hiked this in Winter before, but on those occasions it was also raining, so photographing was difficult.  No rain fell on us Sunday.  We had perfect Winter conditions for an enjoyable hike and lots of opportunities for photographs!  Here are my favorite shots from the day.  As always, you can double click on the picture to see it full-frame.