Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Billie's Dream

Back on the road today. It was 30F when I left this morning with a mixture of  fog and mist. By evening it was 40F and raining. It was very good to be riding again.

And, so what was Billie dreaming of while waiting patiently in the garage?

From Australia

I'm told this is from a 1964 Honda SuperCub accessories catalog.

Owned by an Austrian living in Turkey.

And, heaven only knows how I came to know that there are sidecar training classes offered in Louisville.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Alas, All Good Things Seem To Have To Come To An End

It started snowing early Christmas Eve Day.

This is what greeted us as we left the condo to walk over to the coffee shop.
The initial forecasts were for the snow to begin in the afternoon. This was a little after 9:00 am. Oops.
After breakfast Heather and I walked to the bank and then did some shopping. The roads were fine. We could have driven, but it was right around the freezing mark and it was just a delight to walk.

I seldom get to use my snowshoes and heaven knows I certainly didn't need them today, but after Heather and I finished our walk together I headed over to Francis Park with snowshoes in hand.

My, what big feet I have.
It was going to be one of those days where it snowed all day long.

The leaves on the ground are still visible poking up through the snow.

Bigfoot's tracks.
I meandered throughout the park stopping occasionally to take a photo.

Eventually I came upon an area where children were sliding down a small hill. As I was watching the children play a car came up and parked near where I was standing. A man and his daughter were got out of the car. She had a saucer to slide down the hill. The man and I chatted. Come to find out they were visiting from Sydney, Australia. They'd never been in snow before. I asked him if he'd take my picture. So there you have it: A man from Australia taking the picture of a man snowshoeing in St. Louis, Missouri on Christmas Eve Day. I wonder how often that has happened.

Proof of the existence of Bigfoot

Bob walking down the hill to join his daughter. She is admiring the rather large snowman.

I continued on my way, crisscrossing the park and taking more photos.

Notice that the leaves aren't showing anymore.

Darkness descended but I was reluctant to call it a day. Alas, all good things seem to have to come to an end. So one more picture.

Every year they set up a tree in Francis Park and decorate it with white lights. Eventually there will be a live tree that will have this honor, but it is not large enough yet. If you look closely you can see the candidate tree standing behind the tree of lights.

At the edge of the Park I took off my snowshoes and headed home. I was surprised to discover how much more difficult it was to walk on the snow covered sidewalk than it had been walking on the snow in the park. I guess the snowshoes ended up not being superfluous after all.

When I got home Billie volunteered to watch over my snowshoes and poles.
It is definitely going to be a White Christmas here in the Heartland. May all your blessings be obvious during this wondrous Season and may all your Christmases be merry!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

A Nice Leisurely Urban Ride

I've been keeping my eye on another group of buildings.

This was the status of the roof on 21 November 2010. It was the tile roof going on that caught my eye.
Before the tile roof began going up, I thought maybe this was going to be this old group of buildings demise. They were in pretty sad shape.

I wonder what they are going to do about this?

This was how the buildings looked a week later.
The dumpster is still there, but things are definitely changing..

The rebuilding is beginning.

And the roof is coming along nicely.

Today was the first day I ventured out after the snows here. The roads were clear enough that I could have rode yesterday, but Heather and I spent the day finishing up her shopping instead. The highlight of our shopping was this little gem I noticed in a house window in the neighborhood known as The Hill. Heather was driving and I made her go back so I could get a picture.

My, my, my, and just what are you up to Santa?

But that was yesterday. Today was Free Billie Day. So, off she and I went.

First we ventured north to drop off the vehicle insurance payment.
Then we meandered down to the buildings I've been keeping my eye on.
The dumpster is gone.
And, the tile roof is nearly complete.
All told the ride was a little over forty miles long. The temperatures were in the mid to high 30's degree F. It was a nice leisurely urban ride and a good way to return to the road after a week layoff.

Thursday, December 16, 2010


This is the longest I've gone without being on a bike or scooter since last February. 

Years ago, back in Michigan, when I was learning to drive my Dad once asked me, "How's the best way to drive on ice?" I don't remember how I responded but I remember his answer, "The best way is not to."

With ice to the left  . . . .
And ice to the right . . .
Billie waits.
Of course, in the real world sometimes one has to do what one has to do. That said, I personally wouldn't risk taking a two wheeled vehicle out on an icy street, but if I had three wheels rather than two . . . .

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Waiting for the Ghost

I am sure my children will attest that when it comes to Christmas I have always been a bit of  a Scrooge. But, unlike the character from a Christmas Carol my "Scrooginess" didn't come from a lack of generosity or hardness of heart. My "Scrooginess"  grew out of my being a part of an ancient Christian tradition that views Advent as a solemn season, a penitential season much akin to Lent. This means that by the time I am ready to begin celebrating the The Twelve Days of Christmas, Christmas is all but over for most folks. And, by New Year's Day I am pretty much on my own. Bah Humbug!

Over the last decade it has gotten worse. Not only am I totally out of step with American Civil Religion but I suffer from a  total inability to deal gracefully with all the disruptions I find erupting all around me. The unexpected and out of place run rampant this time of year and navigating my way through all this is most wearisome. The Christmas Season has become a complete and utter assault on my sense of being in the world. The orderly life pattern I need to comfortably function is no match for the suddenly appearing flashing lights, impromptu treats, and parties. Thankfully, I am not so fragile as I once was. The tethers that hold my awareness to my surroundings have become stronger as the years of  living into my "new normal" have come and gone.

Usually by the time Christmas comes I am worn out . . . spent. And, the beginning of the Christmas hoopla creeps earlier each year. It seems to begin as soon as Halloween is over. Ouch.

Here it is not even the middle of December and I am so ready for Christmas to be over: For the "pretty, pretty lights" to cease to glow; for the bell ringers to become clapper-less; and for "Santa Baby" to fall into a very long silent night.

And, now it goes and snows . . . snows too much for me to be able to ride my Symba, but not enough for me to enjoy my snowshoes. Oh bother.

So, please forgive me if I am grumpy and short fused. I am not trying to be a Grinch and steal anywho's Christmas. No, I am just doing the best I can to survive all the Good Cheer around me.

My tradition tells me Advent is a time for waiting. I must say I have that down cold. I am truly waiting . . . waiting for the ghost of one more Christmas past to be born.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

. . . But This Was Close

We were told it was coming, but not until late Saturday night or early Sunday morning. So, Heather and I headed out in the rain to visit my friend Cory. She was displaying her wares at the Jewelry to the Third Degree Show at the Third Degree Glass Factory.
Neither Heather or I had ever been to the Third Degree Glass Factory. It describes itself as a, "public-access glass art education center." Years ago I had another friend who learned to blow glass at the Third Degree Glass Factory. I'd been curious, but had never had a good enough reason to stop in until now.
There were at least thirty different metal workers and bead artists involved with the show. I was impressed not only by the quality of the work but at the reasonable prices.
We found Cory.
I love Cory's work. I forget how truly talented she is. She has a website:
After spending some time with Cory and checking out the other artists we went to the History Museum in Forest Park. We spent a couple of hours checking out the exhibit Homelands: How Women Made the West.  I didn't take any pictures inside the Museum. I guess I could have. There was a woman who seemed to be taking pictures of everything and no one said anything. Thankfully, she wasn't using flash.

When we had worked up a good appetite we headed to the Loop in University City and one of our favorite places.
Al Tarboush has great Falafel.
And, the spinach pies was pretty good, too.
Since they said it was coming, we decided to make Saturday our play day. This was a good choice.

When I got up this morning it had arrived.
This is the scene that greeted me as I opened the door to leave the condo.
The snow was very light. It was what I'd call dry snow. It just brushed off the car. No scraping required.
Christmas Card?

Before I left the condo I checked to see how much snow had fallen. At 6:45 am we had 2.8 inches with more expected as the day went on.

When I returned home later the snow had stopped but the blowing was beginning. The Weather Channel was reporting as much as 6 inches in some places. I don't think we got that much here.
Winds with gusts as high as 50 mph were anticipated.

The snow beginning to form drifts

It may get as cold as 5 degrees F tonight. I suspect one will be able to skate on this alley by morning..
Yep, Winter paid a visit to St. Louis. I've lived here over twenty years now and have to say that Winter like I grew up with hasn't come calling very often, but this was close.

Billie is safe in the garage and snuggled up with her Opti-Mate. I suspect she will have a few days before she ventures out again. Pity.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Hey, I'm Wearing Hose

I don't know her name. I see her around the Courthouse. She works for a different part of the Judiciary than I do. She has the most wonderful smile. I had not seen her for sometime and had actually wondered if she had moved on to another position or to a different building.

This morning I was running a little earlier than I normally do. As I walked toward the Courthouse there she was crossing the street. We walked together and chatted. She wondered how it was that I didn't freeze riding to work in the cold. I pointed out to her that I was wearing gloves--she was not. I was wearing a hat--she was not. And, I was wearing pants--she was not.

"Hey, I'm wearing hose," she protested and we both laughed.

"Of course, I'm teasing you," I said, "But seriously, it's all about dressing appropriately. Actually, in this gear I'm nice and toasty."

She asked me if I rode a motorcycle or a scooter. I told her I rode a small motorcycle. When I mentioned I get over 100mpg, her eyes got really big. "That's awesome," she said.

"And, it's great fun," I said, and added, "And, I get to wear all these really cool looking warm clothes!"

"And, you look damn good doing it," she said.

I liked her response better than the guy at the coffee shop. When I walked in earlier this morning he said, "The Martian has landed."

Oh well, it was a little bit warmer this morning. It was 16F when I left the house. The forecasters are predicting a warm-up for the next couple of days, but the weekend could bring first rain, then snow with temperatures dropping into the single digits by Sunday night.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

It's Cold Enough

Today I was out on Billie, my 2010 SYM Symba, most of the day. It was 27F when I left the house at 6:30 am. It was 26F when I returned at 5 pm. The temperature never got above 30F. All told, I spent over five hours in the seat. Now, this isn't Minnesota cold or Colorado cold, but it is cold enough. And, in addition to the ambient temperature I was actually traveling at over 50 mph for nearly twenty minutes. I seldom reach such robust speeds, but today I went over the Missouri River to visit my son, daughter-in-law, and grand-baby.

But, I started the morning with some flamingo hunting. I found this gem not far from where I live.

 And, in the same yard was a gnome to go.

Then it was time to head for St. Charles, but before heading over the River I stopped to do some banking. My Bank has a branch inside of one of the Walmart Stores and has Sunday hours. As I expected, the parking lot was full.
Tis the season for overflowing parking lots
But, I was driving a small motorcycle and so . . .
I had hassle free parking.

Then it was across the Page Ave. Extension to St. Charles to see da' kids.
First mandatory picture of grandchild

Bonus photo :)

As I passed the time on Billie it became quite clear that I am much better prepared for cold weather riding now than I was a year ago. Last year I looked like the Michelin Man, felt like Humpty Dumpty, and was often cold. This year I am streamlined and good to go.

This week the forecast is for some days with the temperature in the teens during my morning commute. Let the good times roll!