Sunday, 27 April 2014

'Tis the Season

April 27, 2014

Following a couple of days of reasonably consistent rain, I judged the asphalt to be sufficiently cleansed of salt residue. I pulled the ST out of hibernation and had a my first highway run of the 2014 season on Saturday afternoon. It was only a short sprint, a little over 100kms, as I had to get back into town to pick up my youngest at the airport. Still, it was great to get out on the road. The first run of the season is always particularly enjoyable as it reawakens that sensation of freedom that nothing else like a motorcycle ride gives me. I drove out the TCH as far as Roaches Line, a smidge over 50kms outside of St. John's, in case anyone not familiar with our geograpghy stumbles upon these musings. I tend to drive at an pretty good clip and I was fortunate to encounter several like-minded car drivers behind whom I tucked in, so as to avoid the prying eyes of the RCMP radar. I've been dinged pretty heavily these past few years and I need to avoid another hefty ticket, and worse-- the loss of points. It's tough because I find riding at the speed limit boring and both my bikes are 4 cylinders and were made for quick acceleration & high speeds on the highway.

Anyways, I had hoped to get in another ride today, but the drizzle and fog never did let go. I went out to my brother's place and picked up my cruiser, a 2000 Honda Magna V4 750. By the time I covered the 15 or so kms from his place to mine my fingers were numb. I did manage to get out earlier in the day and wash the ST. It had a fair bit of grime from the one winter run I made in January when we were in the middle of a thaw. Both bikes are now tucked side by side in the shed, awaiting the arrival any opportunity mother nature provides to shake of the dust off from everyday living. Its a bit tight in there right now as I only just got the snow blower put into summer storage and have yet to organise the Christmas decoration and other items I have been tossing into the shed over the winter.  The brown box you see in the right corner of pic one is the new patio set. The new 4000 watt generator is behind that (said generator made necessary by the dubious management of those in charge of our electricity generation grid her in NL). I've gotten pretty good at manoeuvring both bikes in and out and so the shed, which is 10x14, is quite workable. It has to be--that 20 x 16 garage isn't likely to be in the budget anytime soon.

Well, that's about the extent of my musings for now. It's late as I write this and 6:30 AM will come soon enough. My restful Easter break is over, so it's back to school for the homestretch. Hopefully next time I post we will have had some warmer and sunnier weather and I will have had the opportunity to have had a few extended rides... maybe even have some pics to show for it.

See you out there...Ride On!!!

Saturday, 26 April 2014

The Music of this Place

TUESDAY, April 21, 2014

I had a great musical experience today. There is a small coffee shop downtown on water St. called The Rocket. It serves great coffee and homemade food. Every Tuesday a small collection of local amateur musicians gather in the corner of the dining area and have a jam. Today it was three violins, a guitar, two accordions and a flute. They played traditional Newfoundland jigs & reels to the delight of everyone gathered, especially the come-from-aways ( the NL term for tourists). Newfoundlanders love there music. It is, I guess, one of the enduring traits that is typically associated with us. I know I relate to this as being part of what it is to be a Newfoundlander. Here is a You Tube clip I found of one of their performances. The video I took today wouldn't cooperate

It's not even so much the type of music. To be honest I was raised as much on Charlie Pride, Jim Reeves and Elvis as I was on the Newfoundland folk songs and the tunes that we typically associate with our Irish heritage. I was at a concert last Friday called the Last Waltz Revisited. Local musicians of a different genre got together to reenact the Band's infamous last concert. It was an amazing night of high quality entertainment. At it core, though, is the love of the music.

I guess like everyone, there is a certain identity that goes with being where you are from. I think I hold on to the music and it's continued influence on our culture more so because so many things about what it meant to be a Newfoundlander seem to be different now than when I was younger. It started with confederation with Canada when the then nation of Newfoundland lost its independence. However, the destruction of the cod fishery that was the corner stone of the economy and the life blood of the hundreds of small out ports that dotted our coast, brought irreversible cultural change. I grew up in a different Newfoundland than the one my children do, so experiences like today's musical lunch remind me there are still pieces left of who we were.

It's not only the music. No, the arts in general remain vibrant in our province and are still an important feature of our identity. Indeed, last week I took in our school's performance at the provincial drama festival, which showcases acting chops  amongst our provinces students. The next generation of talent waiting in the wings was impressive to witness.

I am currently on Easter break. Schools closed on Holy Thursday and will reopen on April 28. It has been quite restful and I needed that. The year is winding down and I am tired. I have filled my days with reading & walking; great practise for retirement. The spring temps have been tolerable, indeed today we got up to 11 degrees. The snow is pretty much gone except for a few clumps and clusters where it drifted or where the plow had piled it high. We still haven't had that two or three days of heavy rain to wash the asphalt and the white salt residue is clearly visible when I am walking. The bike stays stored until that is gone. Our evenings are occupied with a newly discovered series on Netflix called Dowton Abby. Sherry & I began watching on Sunday and have nearly finished the the second season (eight hour long episodes per season).

I have continued my window shopping for our future gypsy caravan but I have moved from internet surfing to visiting the local RV dealers. So far I have only looked at travel trailers but today I plan to tour a couple of Class A's. I'm still a couple of years from a purchase but this research is  just something else to keep me occupied and it will be time well spent when I do need to make a decision on a purchase.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

I held off posting Tuesday's blog because I had taken a video of the performance and wanted to include it. However, It was on my daughter's phone and we couldn't figure out a way to download it, so  ultimately I had to go with a You Tube video I found.  It turns out to be a fortuitous delay as I it gives me the opportunity to give you a sample of another musical experience I had last night. It was a triple header of concerts in our small city last night with Bryan Adams, Gordon Lightfoot, and Willie Nile. Willie is certainly the road less travelled, but it is the show I chose. He never found huge commercial success compared to some of his New York City compatriots like Bruce Springsteen. But even at 65 he rocks the house. The whole room was actually dancing. Here is a You Tube sample of some older and more recent tunes. The first one is from a 1981 album. . This second one is the title track from a recent album.

Music for me is really uplifting and when I put in my headphones, turn up the mp3 player and hit the road on my bike the troubles of the everyday just fade away. It has rained here the past two days, and that should be enough to wash the salt residue from the asphalt, so, despite it only being five degrees, I shall likely have my first ride of the season today.

See U out there... Ride On!

Sunday, 13 April 2014

Spring pics up Speed.

So, a while back I wrote a blog about spring nudging along. And, indeed, that is what it will continue to do for several more weeks. However, developments in the past 10 days are very promising. Spring has picked up speed in its advance and has clearly taken hold as the pics below will attest.

This first one was taken on April 1st, when Sheila and her damn brush dropped nearly 50 cms over 48 hours. The deck was piled high up to the rails and the BBQ was buried.

Well, as you can see from the pic taken earlier today, the snow is receding, albeit reluctantly.

Thank God. it was a hell of a long winter, one that came early with heavy snow in December and lasted basically for four months. Now there will be lots of rain for the next couple of months but warmer temps are already here ( a balmy plus 7 today). If  it continues and we get enough rain to cleanse the asphalt of salt residue, we may get the riding season started in earnest here by late April or early May.

I haven't had much to blog about since last time I shared my musings. I am chugging along through the first of Peter Guralnick's two bio's on Elvis. It is an interesting and intricate study of the first four to five years of his career. It has caused me to go back and pull out the 50's Elvis cds that I haven't listed to in some time. I'm listening now with greater insight into how revolutionary and primitive these early recordings were, all at once.

On the movie front I recently watched American Hustle..."OK", and Dallas Buyers Club, "very good". Other than that the only out of the routine news is my recent surgery for cataracts. I have to wear these god awful goggles for a week, but I have a strange urge to play da blues...

Well, that's all for now and probably for a while. I have one more week to endure and then it's Easter break here for 10 days. We'll return in time to welcome in May and the school year is in it's home stretch. I'll get lots of rest over the break, especially since the Leafs pulled another collapse and meekly bowed out of the playoffs. In our time zone playoff hockey would mean 11:30 to 12:00 AM nights; later if overtime was necessary.... No worries 'bout that now.

Safe travels to all u Canadians heading North from your winter hideout in the sunny South.Thanks for sharing and getting this snowbound motorcycle rider through a tough stretch

See Ya out There...Ride On!