Monday, October 26, 2009

I'm a real biker now

Yes, it's time for more motorcycle stories. Sorry mom ;)

So after what felt like weeks of rain and bad timing, I got to go out on the motorcycle again today. I was feeling ambitious, and had a goal - getting to dad's house this evening, for his Monday night biker-friend gathering. I intended to go first to my friend Gord's house, then to dad's afterwards.

Well, the day didn't go entirely as planned of course, but I'm happy to say I did get as far as Gord's house, and back home. I was worried about the temperature, so i got my longjohns on (nothing says sexy like longjohns), put on two shirts under my jacket, and put my rain gear in a back pack. If it was still too cold, I'd put on the rain gear to cut the wind a bit.

All geared up, I faced my first challenge - the rotary. I'm happy to say it went without a hitch. Until I realized I'd forgotten to bring change to get across the bridge. I promptly turned around, faced the rotary again (successfully again), went home and got bridge money.

Thinking I was being very clever, I grabbed 6 quarters, 3 for each way across the bridge. I put 3 in one pocket of my jeans, and 3 in the other, again for each trip. I got back on the bike and restarted my trip to Gord's house.

Things went smoothly until I got to the bridge. The first thing that happened is that as I was stopped at the traffic lights at Gottigen and North, right before the bridge, an SUV pulled up beside me and rolled down the window. The guy driving flashed a police badge at me (he was clearly off duty), and asked me if that was my bike. I said yes and nodded in case he couldn't hear me over the bike. He asked if I knew I had no plates. I said yes, I had a temporary permit in my backpack (I did, you can't stick them to a bike the way you do a car window). He said ok, he had just wanted to make sure I knew and that someone hadn't stolen my plates. The light changed and we went on our merry ways.

As I was driving over the bridge, quite thrilled at the novelty of the sensation of being in the open air over it, it occurred to me that I hadn't fully thought through my bridge change plan. The change was in my jeans pockets...and I was wearing big driving gloves. I couldn't dig for change in my pockets with those gloves on. Uh oh.

So I get to the toll booth, and the first problem happens: I can't get the bike into neutral. This means that if I let go of the clutch, the bike will stall. If I don't let go of the clutch, I can't get my gloves off. I decide to shut off the engine, planning to restart quickly once the toll is paid. So I shut off the bike, and start yanking off my gloves. This is already taking long enough that I realize I've badly miscalculated this step of my trip.

Gloves off, I try to find the quarters in my pockets. I also had a twenty dollar bill in the pocket, which of course got in the way. I manage to dig the quarters out, throw them in the basket, and try to shove the twenty back in my jeans. Of course, since I'm starting to panic at how long this is taking me (and I have cars waiting behind me), I can't get it in the pocket. I slam it into my jacket pocket instead, acknowledging in my head that I have probably just lost the twenty.

Now I try to get my gloves back on. In the process I drop one on the ground. To get it, I had to put the kickstand down and lean the bike over, grabbing the glove. Someone honked at this point. You can't imagine how much I was cursing and how red my face was.

I retrieve the glove, manage to get them both on, and then try to restart the bike. It doesn't start. I try it again. It doesn't start again. I realize I forgot to turn the engine back on. I do so, and the bike starts right away. I start to drive away, finally. I think a total of about two minutes passed...it felt like 20. A normal drive through the toll booth takes like 10 seconds. As I drive away, I realize that the kickstand is still down. Somehow, I managed to get the kickstand back up as I drove off.

I was pretty shaken after this fiasco, but I made it to Gord's just fine after that. The twenty was still in my pocket when I got there too! I had a nice visit with Steve and Gord, and came to the decision that I would not go to dad's. I was too nervous about driving on the highway at night on my way home, as I haven't done any night driving yet and that seemed like too much to start with. I was also worried about the cold. Though I had been ok getting to Gord's, my hands were pretty cold by the time I got there, and I knew the temperature would drop quick at night. I decided to play it safe and left Gord's about 5:30, which was late enough that I missed most of the rush hour traffic, and early enough that the sun was just disappearing as I got home. I was definitely right about how cold it would get, because even with the sun low on the horizon it was noticably colder driving home.

The bridge was much less of an event going home. Since I knew the twenty had made the trip in my jacket pocket, I put the quarters in it this time. The jacket pocket is loose enough that I can dig in it with my gloves on. It was still a bit awkward, and I missed a quarter the first time, but it went much better. I also managed to get the bike into neutral this time, which helped. I think it was about a 30 second ordeal, instead of 2 minutes, so big improvement. The next time, I will just take the MacPass from the car and keep it in my pocket instead =P

So important lessons learned today - bring the MacPass, and it gets super cold as the sun goes down. I do not have the level of gear needed for night riding in late October. It was a great experience though, I'm really pleased that I was able to drive in real traffic in a mostly normal manner. I figured out the small shifting problems I had been having too, was just a matter of taking a long enough drive to find the pattern in what was happening. I am very happy, and feel like I'm a real biker now, since I have proven I can take it places :)

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Social time

Good evening!

As implied by the title, today was a day of visiting and social time with friends and family. It was nice :)

We had a nice lazy morning, having breakfast with Nanny. Once we were up and around, I called my other grandmother, Nana, to find out when I could visit her today. I ended up dropping Erin off at Steve's, then heading over to Nana's to visit with her and Arnold for a bit. I couldn't stay there long, as Nana had an appointment in the afternoon, but I was able to have a bite of lunch with them and catch up a bit. It was a good little visit and they seemed very pleased to see me.

After leaving Nana's I went to find Steve and Erin, who had gone out for walk, and we went back to Steve's house a while. We eventually headed back to Nanny's, as she was making pot roast for supper and didn't mind feeding a few extra people (Steve has enough of an appetite that he counts as a few people). We went for a nice walk down part of the Trans-Canada trail that runs near Nanny's house while we waited for supper. We saw lots of birds, including ducks and a heron, and I'm pretty sure I saw an eagle flying too, but I can't prove that as it was a ways off. It was a lovely sunny day though, perfect for a nice walk.

Supper was excellent, of course. It always is at Nanny's house. I took Steve home shortly after dinner, as Erin and I talked him into coming back to Halifax with us for a visit (and possibly for longer), and he needed to get his laundry and packing done. On my way back to Nanny's, I stopped at my aunt's house to visit her and my cousin Emma (Billy is out of town), but Emma had skating tonight and they weren't home. Ah well, hopefully I will catch up with them next time.

The rest of the evening was me, Erin and Nanny having what Nanny called a "stitch 'n bitch". Erin and I were cross-stitching, Nanny was knitting, and we watched TV and chatted. It sounds so domestic and the opposite of cool, but it's really nice to do that once in a while. It's one of the reason I love coming to Nanny & Grampy's. And now I am sitting in bed writing a blog entry before I go to sleep to rest up for the trip home tomorrow.

Look at me, posting two days in a row...the world must be ending ;) I will post again from home, where I should be tomorrow!


Edit - Oh, extra comment that Jacki's comment reminded me of. Erin passed the night in the basement uneventfully, and is dubious as to the extent of the haunting in the basement ;)

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Hello from Moncton

Yup, I'm in Moncton again. I was supposed to have a conference here tomorrow, and had planned on spending some extra time here with family and friends, and then they cancelled the conference. I decided that since I had planned on being away anyway, there was no reason to change my travel plans, so here I am!

Actually there was one change, and that is that I brought my friend Erin with me. She is currently downstairs, sleeping on the sofa in the basement. I did warn her that the basement is haunted (according to several members of my family that have lived here for long periods of time), but she didn't seem concerned. I had thought that she might enjoy the chance to have a change of scenery, and to be able to visit with Steve, and I was right :) I am glad to have her company while I am here too.


So there hasn't been too much going on lately, thus the lack of posting. I never see the point in posting "today was the same as yesterday pretty much", I always want to wait until I have some things to report. A few fun things happened this weekend. First, I dyed my hair red...well really I gave the dye to Erin and she dyed my hair for me. The point is, my hair is now red again! As soon as I saw it red, I wondered how I ever stopped dying it. I was meant to be a redhead, I love it so much. Erin took this picture for me...it doesn't capture the intensity of the red very well, but we were having trouble getting decent lighting that showed it off, and this was the best we could do. The important thing is that my hair is red again, brighter than it looks in this pic, and my intention at this point is that my hair will now be red for the rest of my life ;)

The other big thing is a motorcycle thing (sorry mom!). I took the bike out the other day for a short cruise in a sunny break between rain showers (I did end up getting a cover for it, so it was dry). I hit another new milestone in that I went out on Northwest Arm Drive, near my house, where the speed limit is 80 km/h. I had never gone that fast before, so it was another step up the ladder to driving confidence. This was after a short drive on some of the real roads in normal traffic situations too. I even had to stop at a red light on a hill, with the bike stuck in second gear (been having some trouble with first and second gear). I was terrified I was going to stall it, trying to start from a full stop in second, as I'd never done it before. It went fine though, I got the bike going no problem. Overall, it was another great confidence booster and I think I'll be ready for real trips around town just in time for the riding season to be officially over =P

I have to say though, my first thought when I got my motorcycle up to 80 wasn't "Holy crap this is too fast", like I thought it would be. Instead, it was "So this is why I need a windshield!". Wow does the wind ever amplify at that speed versus 50 km/h on normal roads. Brilliant me, though, never stopped to think that I did have a visor on my helmet I could have lowered, which would have made things easier. I will remember next time though. I would still want a windshield though, for the wind pounding on the rest of me. And a backrest for the seat...it would be nice to not feel like the wind was going to blow me off the bike! (No, the wind will not actually blow me off the bike, it's just the feeling. If the wind hit you that hard your hand would slip off the throttle, slowing the bike down, and allowing you to regain control. Just wanted to throw that out there.)

So that's the news for now, other than being in Moncton with my grandparents. We had a nice supper with them when we got here, before going out with Steve later in the evening. We ended up going to see Zombieland, which was very enjoyable. Comparable to Shawn of the Dead, though I think Shawn is funnier. It was campy fun though, and definitely worth seeing. Woody Harrelson was awesome in it, and there is a cameo in the movie that is just hilarious. I won't name the cameo though, it would wreck the moment if you haven't seen it. It's great.

I will probably post again tomorrow to tell you of our Moncton exploits. I know, posts two days in a row? Unthinkable! I intend for it to happen though. Stay tuned :)

Monday, October 12, 2009

Turkey Day!

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Yup, it's turkey day again. What's funny is I've had two Thanksgiving dinners now, and no turkey at all. Lots of other deliciousness though!

Alan and I went over to dad's last night and had our first dinner with them. They knew we were having dinner with mom tonight too, so CJ decided to make lasagna instead of a turkey, so that we wouldn't have turkey twice in a row. Dinner was very good, as was dessert ( I <3 pumpkin pie), and it was good to have a nice visit with them :)

Dinner tonight was at mom's, and Rick's daughter Gwen joined us too, with her daughter Maya. Mom decided to make a ham instead of a turkey, which was delicious. And more pumpkin pie of course. Mom had also made a raisin pie, which I also like, and I took most of it home. Mom also gave me a big chunk of the ham to take home, so at some point this week I intend to make pea soup with it. Yum!

The only really big news from the last few days is that I finally took my motorcycle out on the road for the first time today. By out on the road, I mean off of the little side streets around my house, and onto the busy, main roads. As busy as they get on a holiday anyway. I drove around the neighbor hood a few times to get my nerves settled (haven't been on the bike for a week due to battery issues and rain), and then headed up to the gas station. The bike only needed $8 of gas, but now it's full so I can reset the trip meter and finally figure out how many kilometers I can get out of a tank. For those who don't know, motorcycles don't generally have gas gauges, so you have to judge the fullness of your tank by the distance you've traveled.

So it was just a quick trip around the neighborhood, then to the gas station and back, but it was a big step for me. These little trips are slowly building my skills and my confidence. I'd rather do it slowly and carefully like this than just try to take a massive trip all at once. I'm feeling really good about things, and will hopefully get out a bit more this week. I also learned that I need better gloves if I'm going to ride in these temperatures. It wasn't really cold out, but my hands were freezing even from a 10 minute trip.

Tomorrow I intend to get a cover for the bike, and I may go look at how much a warmer pair of gloves will cost me too.

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Proving a point

So as most of you probably know, I enjoy bowling. I've been in a league on Sunday nights for four years now. I like to think I'm pretty decent at it. I was in two leagues for a while, and my average got pretty high while I was in two leagues, up to 103. Last year I was only in one, and my average dropped down to 97, which made me sad after finally breaking 100 the year before. So, I decided this year to join a second league again. I wanted one closer to home though...my Sunday league is in Woodside, which is a fair trip from here. I don't mind making it because I adore my Sunday league-mates, but I decided that if I was going to do a second league, I wanted it closer to home.

So two weeks ago I went to a bowling alley over in the Halifax Shopping Center, which is like 5 minutes from my house, and just went to the counter and asked if they had any leagues still looking for people. The gentleman there said they did, and he could take my name, number and the nights I could bowl, and find a league for me. I told him I wanted Tuesday or Thursday nights. He asked if I was in any other leagues, and what my average in them. I told him I bowled in Woodside, and that my average last year had been 97.

This is when a surprising thing happened.

The guy looks me in the eye and says "Well you bowl in Woodside, so that's inflated", and then writes my average down as being 94. My face must have reflected the incredulity I was feeling, as he followed that up with a sympathetic look and said "Trust me, you'll see." I regained my composure, thanked him for taking my info and left, wondering if I was going to be sorry I'd signed up for a league at this alley. I was also definitely feeling like if I was going to bowl here, I was going to have to show them that my average is anything but inflated.

So I recieved a call from a league last week who told me they had a spot, and that they bowl Tuesday at 7. Tonight was my first night there. I was a little worried because of the attitude of the person I spoke to at the desk, but happily that seems to have been unfounded. The team I was on were all really friendly, and a bit rowdy, which is how I like my bowling. That's what my Sunday league is like, and it's so fun. They do seem a bit more competative than my Sunday team, but that's ok too, since I'm wanting to be in two leagues for the purpose of improving.

I started off the night bowling alright, with my first game being a 90. That is perfectly respectable, and I didn't expect the first game to be spectacular anyway. These were lanes I haven't bowled in since I was a kid doing tournaments, and every alley has a slightly different set up and feel to it, which takes some getting used to. I also had the nervousness of being the new girl in a club, which never helps.

My second game was a 102, which is a score I will never complain about. Anything 95+ is what I expect of myself, and that was at least enough that I felt I do actually have skill, not an inflated average.

The third game, I proved a point. I got 4 spares and a strike, and ended the game with a 124. Suck on that "oh that's inflated" guy. Tell me my average should be 94, and I end up bowling a 105 average. Of course, a 105 probably really is inflated, but that's ok. I just feel validated. I have skills, not a bowling alley that has easy-falling pins!

Sunday, October 04, 2009

Checking in

Hello, hello. I don't have much to say, just figured I should write a post and let people know I'm not dead.

My week was pretty busy with work, which is a good thing because I sold a house this week, so yay! I can't say much about it for privacy reasons, but I'm happy to have a deal coming together, that's always a nice thing.

Yesterday Alan and I had a little date night, which was nice. We went to Mexico Lindo for supper, and rented The Good, The Bad and The Ugly. I am not a fan of westerns, but I agreed to see it since Clint Eastwood is the inspiration for the main character in my much-beloved Dark Tower series of books. I love that character, so I figured that anything it was based on couldn't be that bad.

When we brought the movie up to the counter at Blockbuster, the cashier just about lost his mind. He couldn't stop freaking out about how excellent a movie it was. I mean he was seriously losing it, I thought he was going to wet his pants, he was so excited. That's a lot of build up, combined with all the fantastic reviews I've heard of this movie over my lifetime.

It wasn't terrible, but I didn't think it was fantastic. It has not, sadly, changed my general feelings about westerns. I really wanted to like it, but after 2 hours of it I was beginning to wonder if would ever end. Long movies that feel long are never a good thing in my mind. So, we can add this to my list of classic movies that everyone freaks out about me not having seen, that turn out to be less than stellar. I am just not a movie person, for whatever reason.

The only big thing was that I had the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation's Run For The Cure this morning. My office has a team for it, and this is the second time I've participated in it. There were seven of us in it, 2 of them running, the rest of us walking (I was a walker). The weather was terrible today, but luckily the worst of the rain held off til after the event was finished, so it wasn't too bad. We went out for brunch at Saege afterwards. I had never been there before, and it was quite good.

My Sunday ended as it always does, with a night at the bowling alley. My team did well tonight, winning two games (out of three) and taking the points for total pinfall too. I bowled average, which is all you can ever ask for, and had a lot of fun with my friends. Overall, pretty good weekend :)