Posted in Motorcycle, travel

Enthusiasms

I love little kids’ enthusiasm for motorcycles, maybe because it so closely mirrors my own. Yesterday we were walking along Newport’s waterfront district, each of us with a helmet in one hand and a mocha from the Surf Shop in the other, when a little guy grabbed his mother’s hand and piped loudly, “Look, Mommy! Motorcycle-guys!” Back at camp a gaggle of youngsters approached our site to ask if they could look at the bike, and the youngest informed us gravely that the reason he has to grow up is so he can get a motorcycle.

Yesterday afternoon we took the bike for a long run down Coastal Highway 101—a wonderfully winding road weaving along the ocean’s edge with spectacular views of waves, cliffs, beaches, bridges… it’s the kind of road for which motorcycles are made

We stopped at the Sea Lion caves to stretch our legs and use the facilities, but declined to pay the exorbitant price tag to go gape at the animals. We’ve been doing pretty well with wildlife sightings on our own. Not long after we pulled out of that stop, a shadow caught my eye and I looked straight up (another advantage of bikes—the unimpeded view) at the underside of an eagle winging right over us with an auk in its talons!

Earlier in the morning we clambered out on the rocks below the lighthouse cliffs, poking around in the tide pools and admiring the low-tide look at marine life. It’s not the high season for whale migration past this coastline, so imagine our delighted surprise when a pair of gray whales surfaced just off our rocks, spouted, flicked their tails at us, and sank again… and three more times. (And I’m laughing to think that our excitement at spotting whales sounded an awful lot like that waterfront tyke’s excitement at spotting us… I guess “motorcycle guys” are a wildlife category in our own way.)

There’s something so much more satisfying about finding the critters in their actual habitat—I do enjoy the Oregon Coast Aquarium, but the real ocean is exponentially more amazing. And along those lines… Today was DIVE day!

Jon and I each have a lot of diving under our belts, but (thanks in part to my horrendous head-cold during last year’s visit to the coast) we hadn’t yet been diving together. “We’ll see how tough you really are,” he grinned at me this morning, over my pile of thick neoprene wetsuit, gloves, booties, and hood stacked on the dive-shop counter. As everyone seems to feel obliged to point out to us when we mention our dive plans, the water here on the Oregon Coast is cold

But oh so worth it. Our camp clothesline is festioned tonight with wetsuits and dive gear, and I’ve added a new memory of gliding hand-in-hand with Jon under the green water, fish darting away from us as we swam.

The South Beach fish market beckoned just before the turnout to our campground, luring us in for  fresh-caught fish and chips… and now we’re decompressing (literally, if you know diving) by the campfire. That’s a lot of enthusiasms indulged in the space of a couple days. My body is exhausted from surf and current—we’ll sleep well tonight!

Posted in Motorcycle, On the Job, writing

Learning Curves

Home Depot bucketSitting in a “town hall meeting” of Home Depot employees last week, several of us broached the subject of training with our store manager, Jeremy. The Home Depot offers some incredibly structured online training modules (I’m especially grateful for the interactive “Cashier’s College” that helped me weather my first days at the register!) but several of us felt our on-the-ground training had been rather haphazard. Invited to critique our experiences as employees, we gave voice to what we saw as gaps in the training process.

Jeremy is a master at the positive spin, and he proved as much in the town hall meeting. While he acknowledged the concern and validated our experiences, he also spun our critique into a pep-talk of a learning-moment. “Well, it IS a do-it-yourself store,” he said with a laugh, after acknowledging our concerns, and sharing the challenges inherent in employee training—“and sometimes that do-it-yourself culture will apply to learning too.” He talked like a teacher, speaking of Pushed Learning (like the online modules that are “served up” to the learner) contrasted with Pulled Learning (when you seek out the new knowledge for yourself).

Essentially he was inviting us to consider whether we’re content with limiting ourselves to what gets served up on a platter, or whether we want to take charge of our own experience. I came away feeling inspired to demonstrate that I AM invested in my own learning.

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An orange-apron learning-journey… saying goodbye to the Garden register

It was a timely pep-talk for me, because I’m embarking on a whole new learning-journey with my move from cashiering to the Service Desk. While I’m excited about the move, I’m all too aware that it’s a steep learning curve. There’s a whole new (complex) computer system and a load of new procedures and services for me to master before I’ll be effective there.

All in all, it’s the perfect time for me to feel inspired.

I applied some of the same attitude to last weekend’s three-day motorcycle class. The classroom segments were definitely “pushed learning,” but the range practice required more. No one is guaranteed a completion card just by taking the course—in fact, several students failed the skills testing—but I can happily report that my completion card will be in the mail this week, and I can officially add the motorcycle endorsement to my license when it arrives.

In order to accomplish that, I had to get past the step-by-step verbal instructions being shouted to us and feel the bike. Stopping. Swerving. Weaving. Cornering. (This is a venue where the “learning curves” are literal curves!) Continue reading “Learning Curves”

Posted in Motorcycle

On Physics and Fear

Our next door neighbor is learning to play guitar. I know this because his open screen door wasn’t far from our open bedroom window at nine o’clock last night. As he worked his way through the opening chords of “Smoke on the Water” (over and over and over and over and over) I consoled myself with the fact that it couldn’t go on indefinitely, because he IS still learning. Meaning he probably doesn’t have the finger calluses yet, and he’d have to quit after a bit.

I can sympathize, because my “motorcycle muscles” are also feeling the effects of unaccustomed use. Well, let me be more accurate. My learning-the-motorcycle-muscles are feeling it. I recognize that on some level I was still trying to “muscle” the bike into staying upright, even though the bike can do just fine on its own, thank you very much. I may behave at some moments as if I’m holding up the bike with my arms, but of course that’s not what’s happening.

The bike will stay upright pretty much on its own when it’s in motion—basic physics takes care of that. And the faster you’re going, the easier that is. (It’s counter-intuitive, I know—but if you think about balancing a bicycle at next-to-nothing speed, you know how much harder that is than staying balanced when you’re pedaling down the street. Same principle.) Given that I haven’t yet graduated out of first gear on the motorcycle, I’m learning to control the bike at its most difficult speed.

My own “newbie” lack-of-confidence was my worst enemy before yesterday. I’ve been rather too aware that there’s a (literal) tipping-point, and if the bike’s center of gravity crosses it, I don’t have the muscle to hold it up. Yet I also know the rest of the physics involved, and the fact that the bike is designed to stay upright when you ride it! Truly, all I need to do is trust the bike (trust the physics) and not indulge in any herky-jerky reactions to my own fears. And therein lies the challenge. Some moments I’d been letting my fear drive—and Fear is not a skilled driver.

Trust is the antithesis of Fear. By the end of yesterday evening’s session I wasn’t tensing for every corner anymore, and that’s huge improvement. I was not just “managing to turn” the bike—I was turning it more tightly, and pretty precisely on the path I set for myself. More improvement.

Strange as it might seem, I actually think that those improvements happened because one of my fears got realized, early in the riding session. (Bless his heart, Jon would go to the grave without telling this to anyone… But I find it useful to stay REAL here, so I’ll tell on myself.) Continue reading “On Physics and Fear”

Posted in Motorcycle, prayer, Recovery

Taking Off the Training Wheels (in Prayer)

motorcycle training wheelsWhen we were motorcycle-shopping, Jon jokingly threatened to buy me a bike with training wheels—though he then reassured me that he wouldn’t humiliate me like that. I think the issue goes deeper than avoiding humiliation, though—what I need most is to build the gut-level confidence that the bike will, indeed, stay upright even without Jon on the front. And that confidence wouldn’t start growing with training wheels in place.

In a sense, passenger-ing behind Jon has been my “training-wheels” course in motorcycling… I’m SO comfortable when he’s in front of me, and I have absolute confidence in his control of the bike. When I’m his passenger, I’m utterly at ease on a motorcycle.

In my solo parking-lot ventures, it’s that confidence that was wholly lacking the first time I got on the bike by myself. It’s that confidence that I’m building. I’m overcoming my illogical expectation that the bike is somehow going to suddenly fling herself to the ground!

boot on motorcycle peg
feet UP!

Last week I was pretty much walking her around the parking lot in first gear, working on getting comfortable with the friction-point on the clutch, and with the balance and weight of her being mine to handle. Last night I graduated to wide, slow circles around the parking lot, with my feet mostly picked up—so that’s some serious progress in my comfort-level. (Jon jogged alongside calling encouragement to me, just like my grandpa did when I was learning to ride bicycle.) Continue reading “Taking Off the Training Wheels (in Prayer)”

Posted in Motorcycle

First Solo on the Bike

I had my first riding lesson today. Well, okay—“riding” would be overstating the case. But I was moving, and I was alone on the bike!

Jon finds it crazy that I’d never even ridden dirt bikes as a kid (he’s been riding since he was seven!)—and that means everything about biking (except for passenger-ing) is new to me.

I’m completely at home on the back of the bike, doesn’t matter how sharply he maneuvers (man’s got skills!) or how far the bike leans—I’m confident in his skills, and in my perch.

Not surprisingly, it’s a whole different ballgame with the grips in my hands. Shifting with your foot? That’s weird to me.

I’m glad that I’m at least well versed in bicycling (balance and hand brakes—though there’s also a foot-brake involved here), and that I’ve driven a stick-shift car before (so the theory of shifting isn’t new, just the application on a motorcycle). But the rest of this is like learning a new language, with my body!

We went to our church’s private parking lot (since I’m still waiting on the license before I can get the permit before I can take the class before I can get the endorsement—a lovely domino-chain, isn’t it?)… And I spent some time getting the feel for balance—being comfy on the back is different from being responsible for keeping the bike up!

motorcyclist shadowAnd some practice at shifting, getting accustomed to the friction point on the clutch, and easing her forward in first gear… Mostly with my feet walking alongside instead of up on the pegs, just to make sure I was ready to correct if needed.

So those are literally my first baby-steps toward riding…

Last night we took her out on the freeway to stretch her legs!

 

Posted in Motorcycle

The Catch-22 of SR-22

Well, I’m a day closer to getting my driver’s license back. I’m also a day past when I thought I was getting it.

Do you ever wonder who made up “the rules,” and what they were thinking?

motorcycle license
SHE’S ready to roll… Just not me yet

I knew I’d have to get SR-22 proof-of-insurance as soon as I got my license back (it’s one of the reasons why I didn’t rush right out and reinstate the license when I become eligible a couple months ago), but I assumed I should get the license first. After all, nobody wants to insure you to drive when you have a suspended license!

Turns out, I need the SR-22 to get the license. How backward is that? Talk about a catch-22. I spent a good chunk of yesterday online with insurance agents, and I now have insurance. In “ten to fourteen days” I’ll have the SR-22 mailed to the state. And then I get to go get my license.

My good news is that, thanks to my DMV trip, my new bike is now legal! New title, registration, plates in place—she’s ready to roll! Just not with me at the front just yet…

imageIn the meantime, I’m blessed to have friends and neighbors who are amiable and willing to ferry me to my new job at Home Depot. I’m enjoying my orange-apron experience, being out of the house, wielding the scanner and interacting with people! The Home Depot and RV-park jobs are fitting around each other easily enough, though I’m not sure I’ll manage to keep up the freelance writing…  I was writing about Bitcoin IRAs till two in the morning the other day, and that’s not going to keep happening! I need time for some other things… like sitting on my parked bike making “vroom vroom” sounds!

 

Posted in Language, Motorcycle

Love Languages & Chocolate Sprinkles

imageThere’s a new key on my ring that I can’t use just yet, but I’m carrying it anyway because I’m excited about this unexpected gift from my husband. I’m still sort of in a state of disbelief about it, to be honest. I can’t quite believe I really have this key, let alone what it goes to… But I’ll leave you in suspense for a moment and come back to that.

Here’s what I find kind of funny today. Jon and I have been reading The Five Love Languages, and we have determined that “receiving gifts” is not my love-language. As a writer, maybe it’s not surprising that “words of affirmation” are what speak most eloquently to my heart—and those are closely followed by the language of “physical touch.”

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Jon likes to leave me love-notes in cards… No “occasion” needed!

I feel absolutely adored when Jon leaves me a sweet card with a hand-written love note. Or when he calls me by a pet name, tells me I look cute or sexy, says he loves me. I even thrill when he calls me “Mrs. Smith,” because it’s an emphasis on the married-in-love “Mrs.”… We spend a few hours of every day on the phone, he with his Bluetooth in his ear while his head is under hoods of cars—we talk to each other while we go about our days, and I never tire of the sound of his voice. Words do it for me, no question! I’m also a hand-holder, a snuggler, a butt-grabber, and a happy recipient of reciprocal touches. When he puts his arm around me in church and holds my hand in the grocery store, I feel Capital-L-Loved.

Now don’t get me wrong, regarding gifts. It’s not that I don’t enjoy or appreciate them, they’re just not the currency that “proves love” in my emotional world. When he does give me something, I find myself floored by it, maybe because it seems like such an “extra.”   Continue reading “Love Languages & Chocolate Sprinkles”