Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Dithering and grab bags

Hello, hello. I know, I have been a bad blogger, not posting for like a week. I haven't had much to say, honestly. Life was pretty consumed by work the last few days and over the weekend. It does not make for very interesting posting, especially since I can't really talk about work due to possible privacy issues =P

Today was a fun day though, I was out with Erin this afternoon. We had gone out with the intention of getting jeans, and keeping an eye out for potential Halloween costume pieces. If we can, we intend to go as 20's flappers, but Erin's back up plan is to go as Rainbow Bright, while I am thinking of perhaps She-Ra or Jem. I suspect that Jem will be easier to pull off.

Our first stop was actually before we hit the mall...the old Future Shop near Mic Mac Mall is currently housing a place called Halloween Distributors. We hadn't know it was there, Erin just spotted it as I was looking for a parking spot. It was not as exciting as we'd hoped...it was mostly just pre-packaged costumes (titles starting with "sexy" for women, and the men's costumes all focused on breasts, beer and drugs), more so than costume pieces.

The one thing they did have that was nice is they had these lovely masks, the type you'd imagine for fancy costume balls with ladies holding them up on sticks. They were quite pretty, but I have no idea what kind of costume to make around something like that. I may have to think about that more though, as we had no luck finding flapper dresses.

We wandered the mall fairly aimlessly after that, just poking into every store we fancied. We ended up not really feeling like looking for jeans. The one thing I did get was hair dye! I have been wanting to dye my hair red again for a while now, and Erin agreed she can help me do it this weekend. I will post pics when I have red hair, I am eager.

After we were finished with the mall, we headed to Fabricville. Erin is wanting to take up sewing, and was looking for a simple dress pattern to make. We ended up being there for a very long time...by the time we got to the counter with some fabric, Erin told the girl we had been dithering for an hour. I just love the word dithering, and I think I generally love doing anything that can be called dithering. Such a great word.

Erin ended up finding two patterns, one for a dress, and one for handbags, and we found some nice fabrics for her. As we walked over to the counter, I noticed a big basket full of paper bags, marked "Grab Bag $1.99".

I am a sucker for grab bags.

Jacki and I were in the mall once, and found grab bags in Ardene. They were $6 I think, and we each got one. They were awesome. Mine had a nice scarf in it, and a really pretty necklace. There was a cute little pair of fingerless gloves too. I can't remember what was in Jacki's, but I know she had fun with hers too.

So the question for me became "What's more fun, an Ardene grab bag, or a Fabricville grab bag?" The answer to this is probably pretty obvious. However, in one of those "you had to be there" moments, getting a Fabricville grab bag became a hilarious idea that had me in tears, and Erin laughing pretty hard, if only at my foolishness.

The results of a Fabricville grab bag were pretty much what you'd expect, but the hilarity was worth the $2.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Not just about motorcycles

I promise I'll talk about things other than motorcycles today...at least after I talk a little bit about motorcycles.

So dad came over last night to look at my bike and figure out what was wrong. It turns out nothing was wrong. It started instantly when dad tried. I felt a bit sheepish about dragging him out there.

We talked about what I did versus what dad did, and came to the conclusion that the problem might have been the choke. If you know nothing about chokes and engines, which I didn't, here's the quick run down. Most cars have fuel injection. This means that the car automatically gives the engine a bit of extra gas when it starts, to make it catch. Motorcycles do not generally do this automatically, that is what the choke is for. If the engine is cold and/or hasn't run for a while, you engage the choke when you start the engine to give it some extra gas, then release the choke once the engine is warmed up.

When I tried to start the bike on Sunday, it was early morning after a cold night and I assumed it would need choke, so I engaged it then tried to start. When dad started it he did it without the choke. He thinks that when I started it, it did not in fact need the choke, and that I ended up flooding the engine. So, another lesson learned - try to start the bike without choke first, don't default to using it. I also learned how to get the seat off of the bike, and how to get it onto, and off of, the center stand without help (Alan had to help me last time). So, I've missed 3 days I could have been biking, but many lessons were learned. I will get out on the bike tonight at least :)

Ok, time for non-bike things. There has not really been a lot going on, to be honest. I work, I do stuff at home, I go out with friends. That about sums it up. I should tell you about these great books I just read though. I just finished Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials series. This is the trilogy that starts with the Golden Compass, which I'm told was a terrible movie.

If the movie was terrible, then it in no way reflects the book. The book was great, and the series only got better as it went. Through most of the first and second books, you have a sense of where it's going, but there comes a moment when you really understand what the characters (and the author) are doing, and it is shocking. I felt as if I had actually been struck when I realized the scope of what was really going on.

The books are classified as young adult, but they are the same class of young adult books that Harry Potter belongs to, where the category doesn't really matter. They are fantastic regardless of your age. They are somewhat reminiscent of Madeleine L'Engle's "A Wrinkle in Time" series in theme and content, if you are familiar with those (if not, I recommend that series too).

The characters are well written, the world(s) are fascinating, and the story is original and intriguing. I don't think I've read anything like them before, and I highly recommend them. Go read some books, it's good for you!

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Things never go as planned

The plan for the weekend had been to spend a ton of time getting comfortable on my motorcycle. Unfortunately, the universe had other plans for me.

As I said in the last post, the bike ran out of oil on my first ride. I had the bike running briefly to move it to a flat piece of driveway so I could get it on the center stand, but I didn't want to take it out with no oil, obviously. I bought a big 4 liter jug of oil and filled it up. To my surprise, it took the entire 4 liters and had room for more. I had no idea a little motorcycle could use that much oil. I knew the bike was leaking at least a small amount of oil, so I had already been thinking that it might be good to let it sit overnight and see how bad the leak was. Combine that with fairly strong winds, and I decided it might be best not to take a ride that day. Alan and I had driven out to Bayer's Lake and the winds were pulling the car around, and I was a bit nervous about taking that on when I'm so inexperienced. I told myself that I would go for a ride first thing Sunday morning instead.

So I woke up this morning, all excited to finally go for another ride. Got dressed and all geared up, headed out to my motorcycle and flicked all the right switches. Nothing. The engine didn't start. It made some wheezy noises at me as it tried to turn over, but nothing happened. Now, I don't know a lot about how motorcycles work. I thought maybe it had something to do with the fact that the oil had been at pretty much zero the day before, and I had had it running anyway for a couple of minutes. I was afraid maybe I'd hurt something in the engine by doing this. So, I did what any clever girl would do, and called my father.

Dad assured me that the oil had nothing to do with it not starting and that I hadn't hurt it. He asked if I had made sure that I had the choke engaged, because it was cold out and the bike needs the choke when it's cold. I was fairly certain that I had done this, because I knew that, but I tried it again just in case. I am inexperienced, so it's possible that I had in fact forgotten to do that. I tried the choke in every possible position, and it still wouldn't start, just made those sad noises and refused to turn over. Dad said that the next most likely option was the battery.

Again, knowing very little about the mechanics, I had to ask if you could jump start a bike like a car, and if so, could you do it with a car or did it need to be another bike. Dad said you can do it from a car, the batteries are the same, but that I would have to take off either the side panels, or the seat, to get at the hook ups. He told me how to do this, and Alan and I went off to tackle the task, toolkit in hand.

Well, I got the first side panel off no problem, while Alan worked on the one on the other side. Unfortunately, my side panel was not the one we needed, there was no access to anything under it. Alan got the other side off while I replaced the first one, though a little knob that was used to hold it in place came off when he pulled off the panel. It's a minor detail though, the panel will go back on fine even without it. With that panel off, we could see the red connector for the battery, but not the black one, so we assumed that meant we had to get the seat off to get at both connectors.

Try as we might, we could not figure out how to remove the seat from the bike. Dad had told me what to look for to get it off, but I didn't see what he said to look for. There were no bolts holding it on that I could tell. There was a hook on each side of the seat, so it looked like you should just be able to jiggle the seat around a bit and get it off that hook, but that didn't work, for whatever reason.

Dad wasn't going to be home this afternoon, so I didn't bother calling him again, I just emailed him and told him what happened. Long story short, no bike ride again today. I know we'll get it fixed, it's just disappointing. On the bright side, I'm learning all sorts of things. I know how to fill up my oil now (as well as how to check it's level), and how to remove and replace my side panels, and where my battery is. This is all useful stuff that I wanted to learn anyway, so it's not all bad. I just don't want the riding season to be over before I get on the road!

Friday, September 18, 2009

Finally!

I think that this has been the longest week of my life. As I posted previously, I bought a motorcycle, but couldn't bring it home right away. Since I was relying on the kindness of others, namely dad and his friend Glen (he owns a trailer), to get the bike home, it had to wait until Thursday. The week has consisted mostly of me moping and wishing the bike was here.

Finally Thursday came, and after a long day of waiting, I headed out to dad's when he got off work, and we hitched up the trailer and headed to Truro. It's only 45 minutes to an hour to get out there, so it wasn't a bad drive at all. We got there in good time, and got the registration signed over to me from the dealer. They helped dad load it onto the trailer, gave me the keys, and we headed home. I didn't panic at all about some silly disaster happening, like the ties on the trailer coming loose and the bike flying onto the highway. Ok, maybe I panicked a little bit.

Dad had to laugh at me on the way home because I was literally twitching and fidgeting the whole ride home. I am very lucky he's a patient man. The sad part was that due to some work obligations, it would be after dark before I would have free time, and I'm not comfortable enough yet to drive at night, so riding would have to wait for Friday.

We got the bike back to my house safely, of course, and parked it in the driveway. Then we promptly dropped the bike on the ground three times in a row. Yes, we did this on purpose. Dad was showing me how you lift the bike up if it tips over, without throwing out your back and/or needing multiple people. It's rough, but I can straighten it back up now. One more thing I have to repeatedly thank my father for.

Again, due to work and other obligations, I could not immediately jump on the motorcycle when I woke up this morning. I finally got to go for a ride this afternoon. I'm posting some pictures at the end of my bike and me on it. It was very exciting, but alas it was also very quickly over. I was just driving the quiet streets around my neighborhood, and very quickly realized that even that is testing my level of comfort. The bike is a lot more powerful than the ones we used in the training course, and I still have to spend enough time thinking about the mechanics of it that I felt a bit worried about meeting up with other cars. In addition to that, my oil light was on the entire time, which concerned me.

So after a few loops of the neighborhood I headed home again, where I promptly dropped the bike again. I can only imagine how hilarious I must have looked if any of the neighbors happened to catch me sitting on the ground next to my horizontal motorcycle. My driveway is on a bit of a hill, and I was going slow trying to get positioned right to park. I ended up stalling it, and the lack of forward momentum threw off my balance and I wasn't able to hold the bike up. No worries, I am perfectly fine. I had enough warning and control to lay it down gently, without pinning myself under it or anything. Thanks to the lesson from dad yesterday, and a bit of help from Alan, I got the bike standing again, no harm done.

Dad told me how to check my oil and what kind I have to get to replace it, so hopefully tomorrow I can address the oil light issue and go for another ride. I think my next trip out will be to a parking lot up the street from us that is empty on weekends. I definitely need a bit more practice there before spending any length of time on the streets. I'm taking it slow and easy, I'd rather be safe and careful than instantly cruising the highways. I intend to be having fun on my motorcycle for a long time, so there's no need to rush and do something stupid! I'm too cautious for that =P

Here's some pictures of my new baby :)




Saturday, September 12, 2009

Being happy is nice

Today is awesome. As of today, I am the proud owner of a 1982 Honda Nighthawk 650cc motorcycle. You can see the original ad (at least as long as it's up) here: HONDA 650 Nighthawk in TRURO, NS - AutoTrader There are good pictures of it there. I will post my own pictures when I actually bring the bike home, which will be later this week. It's in Truro, and I don't feel comfortable doing that long of a drive yet, so dad is going to talk to a friend of his who has a trailer, and we'll bring it home some evening this week that works for him.

So yeah, I'm ridiculously happy. Dad came and got me around 10 this morning and we drove out to Truro to look at the bike. We went on dad's bike of course, so I got a good ride. Not having a bike of my own, and not living with dad, I haven't gotten to go for a long bike ride in a while. It was all on the main highway though, so we got to Truro pretty quick and found the bike shop in good time.

Dad looked it over when we got there, as he knows all the mechanical stuff. There were a couple of small things, but dad said they were only an hour's worth of work, and $15 worth of parts, so no biggie. Nothing you wouldn't expect to find on a 27 year old bike he said, and I trust him. If I can trust anyone to know about motorcycles, it's dad! We also made sure the bike fit me. I could reach all the levers and pedals, and I could have my feet flat on the ground, so that was fine. The salesperson came out and started it for us too, so we could hear the engine and exhaust. It has an aftermarket exhaust, so you never know what those will end up sounding like, but it was fine. I didn't want one of those obnoxiously loud exhausts, so I was relieved.

With all my criteria met, I paid them for the bike (and I didn't pay what it was advertised at), and then sadly had to leave it there. I'm going to call them Monday to get the MVI number and the VIN, so I can get it registered right away, in hopes of being able to drive it as soon as I get it home. Dad is going to let me know tomorrow night what day we can get it. I'm a bit antsy, as I'm sure you can imagine.

After this, dad and I stopped to get some lunch. It was my treat, as I feel a free lunch is the least I owe my father for taking all this time out of his day to help me, and he has answered endless questions up to this point too. After that we headed home, but happily did not go back using the boring main highway! We took all the side roads and secondary highways out to the Musquodoboit Valley, then to dad's house in Lake Echo. It was just a gorgeous day and a great drive.

For those of you that have never been on a motorcycle, it is an entirely different experience than riding in a car. It's like the difference between looking out your living room window at the ocean, and actually standing on the beach. When you're on the bike the things you see just seem so much closer and more real, and you can hear and smell everything too. For example, we drove over a little wooden bridge somewhere, and you could hear the water running beneath you, and smell the difference in the air near the water. You just don't get that in the car. I'm sure those kind of things don't make a difference to everyone, but I just find you experience so much more of the places you travel then when you're in the car.

I think my day was pretty much summed up by a moment I had as we were driving home, not too far out of Truro. The road was empty except for us, the sun was shining and the view was incredible, and I thought to myself "Sometimes, life is awesome."

Monday, September 07, 2009

Home again

Hello again, sorry for the lack of posting. This weekend has been a combination of vacation recovery and catching up with things at home, which has left me with not a lot of time for updates.

The trip home on Friday from Fredericton was uneventful for the most part. We did have a slight delay at the airport, as their was some construction going on on an overpass. While we were stopped on the highway, before we could see what the delay was, Alan said he was convinced it was another burned out truck. I wouldn't have been surprised if that was true.

After we got home nd got the car unpacked, we went and picked up the cats from the place we had them boarded. They were, of course, terrified to see us. It's nice to feel like you were missed =P After much cajoling and comforting we finally got them packed in the car and home. They adjusted pretty quickly to being home again though, and remembered that they like us.

The rest of Friday was just relaxing and being glad to be home. Most of the last few days have been that, though we've been out to see friends too. We went out for supper with Steve on Saturday since he's in town, and hung out at Gord's for a while after that. Yesterday we went over to see Erin's new place. She's got a very nice apartment in Dartmouth, it should be very good for her there. I also went back to work yesterday and did an open house in the afternoon.

A fair part of this afternoon was spent getting the kitchen ready for Alan and dad to do some work on it tomorrow. They're going to reframe the wall we tore out like a year and a half ago, so we'll have insulation there again this winter, how novel! After that was done we went out for supper with mom, which was very nice. Thanks again for dinner mom :)

So that's all the news from the last few days. It's back to the office tomorrow, the resumption of real life after the vacation. I will post again when I have more news!

Thursday, September 03, 2009

This is not where I expected to be...

So we had a great day with Jacki and John in Toronto yesterday. When we got there, we chatted and got caught up, and got to see their apartment. It's very nice, I think they've got a really good lace. Jacki showed us around her neighborhood a little later. She's got incredible little shops and restaurants all over the place around her building, and it's on top of a mall to boot. I got a couple of cute pairs of earrings at one of the places we went.

When John got home we went for supper at this awesome place called the Pickle Barrel. I had never heard of it before but I guess it's part of a chain. They had a huge menu, and every type of food under the sun. It was all really good. After dinner we went to a comedy club that I can't remember the name of. It was amateur night, and we saw 5 different comedians, who were then followed up by one of the writers from the Mercer Report. The first guy and the last two were really good, but the few in the middle were pretty bad. That said, over all it was really fun, and it's something I hadn't done before. We had a really good night, all told.

Unfortunately, we had to go to bed really early, as we had to be up and on the road early this morning if we were to get to Moncton at a reasonable hour as planned. We were in the car by 7am, and completely avoided the rush hour in Toronto. Things went exactly as planned and we were making good time...until we hit Montreal.

Remember when I was posting about going to World Con, and how I had previously had nothing but bad experiences in Montreal? Yeah, happened again. I've decided that traveling *to* Montreal and spending time there, but trying to pass *through* Montreal is asking for nothing but trouble.

Just outside the city we ran into a massive traffic jam. Alan managed to find a great detour through the town, but we lost an hour over all (we weren't the only ones trying to find another way through the city, traffic was awful). We later heard on the radio that the problem had been a truck that had gone through a guard rail, hit an overpass, and caught on fire. So that was random.

So after our long detour and lost time, we managed to make a bit of time back. Then, just outside of the exit to Riviere de Loups, we ran into another traffic jam. This one happily only took up another 15 minutes, but as we got to the front of it, we saw what was the problem - another truck on fire. I don't understand how two trucks could have caught on fire on the same day, on our route home.

Then, to make things really perfect, there was extended highway construction on the last stretch of highway from Quebec into New Brunswick. The long and short of it is that we lost so much time with the traffic jams and construction, that we came to the realization that there was no way we were going to make it to Moncton at anything resembling a decent hour. Based on what the GPS told us was the remaining distance, I think it would have been 2am before we made it. We just did not have it in us to drive that long.

So, Alan made a couple of phone calls, first to his mother. She had gotten us the room in Niagara with reward points, and she said we were ok to do the same thing to get a hotel room tonight so we could get off the roads before we passed out. Alan then called and got us a hotel reservation in Fredericton, another 2 hours from where we currently were. We were lucky the room was going to be free, because the rate on the room would otherwise have been $179/night. I was stunned at that, and was looking forward to seeing what kind of room we'd get for that money.

Two hours later, we get into town, and Alan checked us in. The person at the desk gave us another free upgrade, for whatever reason. I could not even imagine what an upgrade to a $179/night room would be. So we walk in to our room, and ours jaws simultaneously dropped, I think.

We aren't in a room, we're in a suite...we have a huge sitting room, with the bedroom separated by French doors off on the side. We have a full bathroom off the sitting room, and anothe ensuite bathroom in the bedroom. I have never even seen a hotel room with two bathrooms. I didn't know they existed outside of ridiculous places like Beverly Hills. The furniture in the suite is incredible too. There's these wooden tables with enamel inlays, and this incredible carved shelf that I want to take home with me.

So yeah, the night has not ended at all where or how I thought it would. This room is nuts. I feel very spoiled, and a little afraid that someone will realize that we don't belong in places this fancy, and that they put us in the wrong room. Until they do though, I'm going to pass out in this king sized bed, so I can finish the drive home tomorrow. Good night!

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

The only hotel in Niagara Falls with no view...

...and it's the same one I'm staying in. I am seriously stunned that there could be a hotel this close to the falls and not have a view. It's weird.

The good news is that I already saw the falls today, so it's ok that my room has no view. Our original plan had been to go to Niagara Falls on Monday, but after some discussion we decided it made more sense for us (me, Alan, and his parents and grandmother) to go on Tuesday, and then Alan and I would spend the night here before going to Toronto on Wednesday to visit Jacki and John. This made a lot more sense than driving up to Ontario and then back to to NY on Monday, then back this way again on Wednesday.

So we drove up to the New York side of the falls this morning, and started our sight-seeing. The place we went is called Goat Island (apparently after a single goat that lived through the winter on the island when all the rest of the herd died), and from it you can see both the American Falls, and the more recognized Horseshoe Falls on the Canadian side.

I have to say, the Falls are really impressive. I got some lovely pictures, but the cable to download the pics to my computer is buried in a suitcase somewhere in the car and I'm too tired to dig it out right now. I had never been here before, and I'm glad I've seen it now. We had a really nice day just seeing the sights.

The real highlight of the day for me was a boat trip we took on the Maid in the Mist. The boat leaves from a dock down the river a ways from the bottom of the falls, and goes close to the bottom of both the American and Horseshoe Falls. While the falls are gorgeous to see from the park above them, you don't get a real feel for the intensity of them from that viewpoint. To be on the boat at the bottom of the falls, rocking in the waves, the spray from the falls soaking everything, and the roar of the water falling drowning out everything else was just a completely different experience. It was just an incredible feeling.

After we had dinner with Alan's family, we parted ways as they went back to Geneva and we found our hotel on the Ontario side. Alan's new GPS was very helpful in finding our hotel...I think he's loving that thing. I think that overall we had a really good time in NY, and it was good to see his family. I always enjoy the time we spend with them, I'm lucky to have the in-laws I have! That said, I'm glad we're getting started on going home, this was a good enough length for a trip for me. I'm looking forward to getting home to my own bed, and cuddling my kittens.

Tomorrow we head to Toronto to visit Jacki and John, then Thursday we make the long trip to Moncton to spend a night with my grandparents. Friday is the big day when at last we are home! I will post more as I have things to share :)