Saturday, November 27, 2010

Bar Mitts, Babler State Park, and Bottle Trees.

An Excuse to go for a Ride

They came in the mail yesterday. I put them on last night. Billie's got handlebar mitts! So, of course, I had to do a long ride to test them out.
I'm not sure if they are going to work out. They are a universal pair and not the really good Hippo Hands. I haven't decided if I'm going to "make them work", or bite the bullet and get the ones that are actually made for my bike. Stay tuned.
 The Ride

Yesterday Heather and I went hiking at Babler Memorial State Park.
As we were driving out there, I thought it would make a great ride on Billie. And, so today I decided to find out.

But, first some images from yesterday:
When we first arrived there was still some evidence of the Thanksgiving Day snow.
But, there was more evidence of the major rain storms that passed through earlier in the week. The paths were rather muddy. We are definitely in the gray season here.
I wondered if a critter put the nuts in the recess of this old stump.
We came across this spring. We spent a rather long while listening the the live water and enjoying the warmth of the sun.
And now for today:

The ride out to the Park took somewhat longer then the drive did yesterday. Billie simply can't be rushed. And, when I'm at my best, neither can I. So, Billie and I found ourselves sort of meandering along while stopping here and there to take pictures.

Billie even got her picture taken with the statue of the good Dr. Babler.
Proof  that Billie made it Babler Memorial State Park.
Another reason for taking the ride today (as if I needed another reason), was to go by the house with the bottle trees. I've rode by it a number of times. I've even stopped across the road and  took a picture or two. I'd promised myself if I ever saw anyone in the yard I was going to stop and find out about the trees.

Whether it is true or not, I feel Billie is totally non-intimating. This is another thing I really like about her. Since I've had Billie, I find myself stopping to talk to folks. I never used to do that when I was driving. Actually, I wonder if I would do that if I had a different motorcycle. I don't know. Anyway, today there was activity at the house, so I stopped.
Billie and I pulled right up in front of the house. Notice the bottle tree in the background.
Kim and I exchanged introductions but she was determined to get her work done. I also met Steve . . .I think. For some reason I keep wanting to remember his name being Dave, but I think he's name is Steve. Oy vay! Me and names!
I suspect these bottle flowers bloom year round.
I'm hoping Kim will leave a comment on this posting about the bottle trees and their creator. I do remember her telling me that the bottles are supposed to capture any negative emotions that might come around the house and keep them from manifesting. She told me that when folks ask if they do their job her response is, "They must, because I've always got a smile on my face." And, it is a wonderful smile indeed.

As I was leaving I took one last picture:
Another bottle tree and some giant flowers. I believe the same artist who did the trees did the flowers. Again, I hope Kim finds her way here and can get everything all straightened out.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Old Lemay Ferry Road

Sometime ago I was looking at the map and noticed Old Lemay Ferry Road. I made a note to one day check it out, and today was the day. But first there were some things that needed be done.  I wanted to lube Billie's chain. Also, there were some errands that had to be taken care of. One of the errands took me to Maplewood Scooter Company. When I walked in Ed asked me if I was there to wish him Happy Birthday. Of course, even though I hadn't known it was his birthday, I said, "Yes." We chatted for a while and I mentioned I was headed out to see where Old Lemay Ferry Road went. He told me he knew where it went.

It seems there is a covered bridge at the end of Old Lemay Ferry Road. Ed thought there might even be a thread on the St. Louis Scooter Club Forum dedicated to pictures of scooters taken in front of this Bridge. I don't know if there is such a thread or not. I didn't look it up. Before I left the Shop he made me promise to post a photo on the Company's Facebook Page of Billie in front of the bridge. I promised I would.

I left Maplewood Scooter Company and ran the other errands. They took longer than I thought they would. They always seem to. And, I was beginning to get nervous. Ed had mentioned that Sandy Creek was quite a ways out. I wasn't at all sure what that meant especially since he runs a much bigger scooter than my Billie.

It was drawing close to 2:30pm when I finally headed out. With sunset at 4:30pm I wondered if  there was going to be enough  time for me to reach the Bridge, but I decided I'd go ahead and ride out as far as I could. If I wasn't there by 3:30pm I'd turn around and head for home whether I made it or not.

The first part of the ride was out Lemay Ferry Road, which is the new road that made the road I was headed for the "Old Road". (New) Lemay Ferry Road is four lanes and rather busy. Of course, it seemed that I was stopping at every stoplight. At one of the stoplights I took a picture of a Go-Scooter.
Check out the top case.

I finally made it to Old Lemay Ferry Road. It turned out to be a fun road. There were lots of nice views but no where to pull off to take a picture. It was 3:15pm and I was beginning to think I was going to have to tell Ed, I'd squandered a great Autumn riding day doing errands. But at 3:20 I arrived at Sandy Creek Covered Bridge Historical Site. It was just that sudden. I'm riding along and there it was: The end of the road.
I parked Billie where I could get a photo of her and the Bridge. I'm told that some people have ridden their scooters up close to the Bridge to take their picture. I heard that a few have even rode over the Bridge and had their pictures taken on the other side. But, that's not my style. I'm a pathological rule follower.
I did walk up to the Bridge to get a closer view.
I glanced at the display but didn't really read very much of it. I was thinking I should get going. I wasn't excited about being in deer country at dusk.

I was walking back to Billie after making a pit-stop when a dog demanded I take her picture. 
When I mounted Billie to leave I looked down at the odometer. It read 6001 miles. Another milestone.

I headed back toward St. Louis. This time I was able to get at least one photo of the road.
This was in a valley. I went through a couple of these. There were hills, too. Some of the hills were steep enough that I had to shift all the way down to second gear. That said, I only pulled off the road twice to let cars pass.
I went through the little town of Antonia. About all there was, was a sign.

I made it back to St. Louis as the Sun was setting.

 Life is good.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Ironic, Eh?

As I write this it is mid-afternoon Friday. Yesterday, I had one of my "episodes". How shall I describe an "episode"? It is sort of "seizure-ish", but not quite. I used to lose memory of part of the day. Now? Not so much. People have told me I don't respond to questions, and if I do the answers generally don't make sense. My voice goes emotionally flat.  My face is blank, but there is a terrified look in my eyes. When I do come to my senses I am always very very weary. And, I shake like someone shivering in the cold. These "episodes" have been a part of my life since the concussion in 1999.

Now as I write it is clear my thinking is returning to a more linear pattern. Earlier in the day this wasn't the case. Yet, still when I go to speak words occasionally have trouble finding their way from my mind to my lips. That said, I'm functioning well enough for what I do.  

When I ride I seem to be able to access a different part of my brain then when doing my normal day to day stuff. For this reason I wanted to go for a ride during my lunch hour, but it didn't work out. Before I began riding, driving took me close to this experience. I always felt safe from my episodes while driving. And, I feel even safer when riding a motorcycle. Ironic, eh? When I drive I have a sense of being present. When I ride it seems the "I have" disappears and what remains is just "being present."

Since yesterday my brain has been fragile, fragmented and fidgety. Organizing thoughts has been what I imagine it would be like to herd a bunch of feral cats spooked out of their wits. Oh well, I'm making it through work. What had to be done today got done.

Before long it will be time to ride home. It will be a relief to let the cats in my head go and just ride. Later, I will make some music with friends. Later still, it will just be Heather and me. It will be then that I will surrender to the bone crushing fatigue I have been experiencing today. . . that I always experience as an aftermath of one of my cognitive meltdowns.

And tomorrow?

Tomorrow, unless the Life of All the Worlds has other plans for me, I think me wee chariot and I are going to do some exploring.

Me and my Yayli  Tanbur.

My tanpoura.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Leo goes ATGATT

Leo is a cat. We are his humans. While he hasn't shown an interest in riding, he is definitely all for the gear.
Leo gearing up.

It took him some time to get the right fit.

And, while it may be a cliche, it appears he wears his gear "purr-fectly".

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Veteran's Day 2010

It is Veteran's Day.
Billie getting her Poppy on

The Courts were closed and so I had the day off. Veteran's Day doesn't seem to be as important of a Holiday as it was when I was growing up. I don't know if that's true. It's just how it seems to me. It has always been an important day for me.

I decided a good way to commemorate this Day would be to ride out to Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery.

When I arrived at Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery I put Billie, my SYM Symba, in second gear and just let her putt, putt, putt along. I allowed myself to stop when I felt something. This seemed more appropriate than stopping because I saw something.
After I took a photo at my first stop I turned around. My eyes came to rest on an interesting headstone.
Laid to rest before 9/11. Somehow that seemed to be important, but I'm not sure why.

I spent a long time just moving slowly around the grounds. Whenever I felt the urge to stop I would and look out over the acres of graves.

There were others doing what I was doing. And, there were those who were there obviously paying respects to a loved one. There was one scene I observed where two women, it looked like a mother and a daughter, were standing before a headstone holding hands. I thought of taking a picture, but decided it was a private moment and continued on.

This area surprised me. I suspect it shouldn't have but it did. It was a similar reaction to the first time I came across the Confederate Soldiers Memorial in Forest Park. Missouri was a Border State at the time of the American Civil War and things were complex here in a way they weren't in my native State of Michigan..

There is a special quiet about the grounds. I notice it every time I visit. Today, it seemed more palpable than I remembered it. This is the first time I've been here on a Veteran's Day. Perhaps the quiet was deeper simply because it is Autumn and the song birds have left for the Winter. Always before when I have visited it has been Spring or Summer. So, it could be the season, but I suspect it was something more.

I left the Cemetery and rode over into the St. Louis County Park that is adjacent.

There is a great scenic overlook of the Mississippi River.

I left the Park and went riding South. I spent the rest of the afternoon wandering. I was on roads with names like Baumgartner, Hageman, Meramec Bottoms, Christopher, and many many more. I didn't ride until the cows came home, but when I did arrive home the moon was there to welcome me.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Across the Street from....

 Across the street from the falling down building is this building:
Looks solid, yes?
Long before the drama unfolded across the street I had noted one of those industrial dumpsters had been moved next to the old Community Cleaners building. I had wondered if its days were numbered until I noticed one of the boarded up windows had been replaced with a new one.
I figured they wouldn't have replaced this window if they were going to tear it down.
Still, until the painters came I was taking a wait and see attitude.
Certainly brightens up the corner.

I like how they highlighted the details around the windows.
The painters were on the site when I stopped to take a picture. One of them asked me if he could take a picture of me on my bike while I was taking a picture of the building. I told him, "Sure." They told me the building was going to house a day care center for ages 2 to 12. It occurred to me as I rode off I should have asked if I could take a picture of the guys who did this. Oh well, an opportunity lost.

However, a couple days later when I passed by, there they were. I stopped and they were happy to pose for me.
A good looking group. The man with the paintbrush was actually working. He didn't want to stop, but he really wanted to pose. It was very sweet.
Life is good.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

While Billie was in the Shop

Last Saturday while Billie was in the shop Heather and I went for a walk in Forest Park. Forest Park was the site of the 1904 World's Fair here in St. Louis. There are remnants from the Fair still in use in the Park. Some examples are: The giant bird cage in the Zoo, and both the History Museum and the Art Museum use buildings from the World's Fair. I thought I knew Forest Park but we discovered some places I didn't know were there.
Near where we parked we found this sign.

This is Jefferson Lake

When I changed the angle of the above picture there was Barnes Jewish & Childrens Hospitals. One of the largest Hospital Complexes in the United States.
There were cattails and there were.....

...reminders humans were near by.

And there were ducks.
There were lots of scooters in the Park.

None of this surprised me, but....
When we crossed this bridge we entered into a part of the park I'd not been in before.

It was very nice.

There were rocks to climb on...

...and to do whatever it is Heather is doing in this picture.
Then came a surprise.

We found ourselves on a boardwalk passing through a wetlands habitat...

...complete with ducks acting like vacuums in the algae.
They left little trails.