Wednesday 17 November 2010

Cleaning out the gar(b)age

There are lots of signs of winter being on its way here. Aside from the leaves having deserted the trees, the bears going into hibernation, the golf courses all closing, and deer season having come and gone, there’s the annual clean out the garage event.

This is usually triggered by the acceptance of the fact that, given all of the above, it’s time to change the oil on the bikes and tuck them in for the winter. Which is, of course, immediately followed by the realization that the garage is so full of crap that there’s no place to work – and it’s now too damned cold to do it outside – so a clean-up is the only option.

As a firm believer that procrastination is something best left until tomorrow, I am generally quite successful at holding off doing this chore until the last possible minute. But this year I also have a honey-do project (put off from last winter) that requires the relatively unencumbered use of the garage to complete and I’m running out of time (and spousal patience).
But first things first. The order will be: a) tidy the garage; b) put the bikes to bed; and c) build the entertainment center cabinets.

Now a garage to me has always been a place where you “do stuff” and you “put stuff”, with “put stuff” generally meaning dropping it where you used it the last time you “did stuff”. So it’s no surprise that 11 months after the last major clean-up it looks like this:


You’ll note the clever use of handlebars as coat hangers and seats as excess storage space. The rest is tools on top of tools, projects un-started and half done, bits of this and scraps of that, future eBay transactions, and so on. And the chair serves as a handy vantage point from which one can swivel around and contemplate the challenge ahead whilst quaffing a pint or two in preparation. It’s no wonder my wife doesn’t like visiting the garage; I’m kind of scared to go in there myself when it gets this bad.

But today was a miserable, wet, windy day suitable only for napping while watching baseball on TV or starting the herculean task of putting some structure into the mess. I opted for the latter. And made barely a dent.

However tomorrow is another day, and since I’m then off to hot and sunny (it had better be) Florida for some golf, I’m going to have to make some serious inroads lest I be faced with the same chaotic scene when I return in a week.

Wish me Godspeed folks, for it’s once more into the breech.

Sunday 7 November 2010

Why we have an obesity problem – an apology.

I recently had this image sent to me as one of those so-called motivational posters. It seemed such a perfect metaphor for a lot of what ails us today that I just had to share it.
Well I was wrong. No sooner had I posted the item than Kev made this comment on my blog:
Actually, while it is easy to make fun of her, the person in that photo is Melissa Hofstetter. The reason she is using the Segway is that in 1995 she was diagnosed with cancer and had to have her left leg amputated above the knee. While she is able to get around fairly well with her prosthetic leg, long distances, and hilly terrain are very difficult for her and often leave blisters and sores. This picture is of her while she was making a trip to Seattle to help take care of her grandniece.

In August, Gizmodo published an apology for previously publishing the image on their webpage with a snarky comment, and an explanation of who she is. It also has a much more detailed description of just who she is and just what she has gone through. Needless to say, she is not the reason we have an obesity problem.
Thank you Kev. I stand corrected, appropriately chastised, and apologetic. And to all others who periodically read my ramblings, if this image shows up in your inbox one day, you’ll know the background, be wise enough to not pass it on, and be able to go back to the sender with Melissa Hofstetter’s story.

Saturday 6 November 2010

Season’s last ride?

As anyone who lives north of the 45th parallel (or thereabouts) knows, 12 months of riding is available only to those with either a death wish or blood of ice. Having neither, I sadly have to bed the baby for a few months every year while mother nature does her best to drive us all south, or temporarily insane until she is once again beaten into submission by the longer days of spring.
That’s why the last ride of the year is so important because the afterglow has to last for months. So when the rainy weather finally broke and the sun came out last weekend, I took full advantage for “the last ride”.

I headed off to one of my favourite routes through Calabogie and then across along Highway 511 to enjoy some of the twisties that road has to offer.

Last ride

The green leaves of summer had long since fallen to the forest floor leaving the trees as naked as a bunch of freshmen at a nude beach on spring break. Although thoughts of such activity were quickly dispelled by the temperature – a not-so-beachy 5C (~40F). Even the forest looked cold.

Turning southwest at Burnstown, I followed the Madawaska River all the way into Calabogie, at one point stopping at a picnic area to watch the water flow over the rocks while I enjoyed a mid-ride cigar and warmed up in the sunshine. Clearly I was not alone in my thinking as bike after bike cruised by – some solitary, others in groups, all enjoying the day. A couple of sports bikes pulled into the parking lot while I was there, but parked at the other end, afraid of H-D contamination I expect.

At Calabogie I swung southeast onto 511, and that’s where the fun riding started. Highway 511 is one of those hidden gems of a highway that is important enough that the government keeps it well maintained and the pavement in good condition, but it isn’t important enough to spend the money on to straighten it out from it’s long ago origins as a cart path. 511 and I go way back and it’s still one of my favourite routes.

But it doesn’t go on forever, and with the sun dropping lower and lower in the sky and knowing the temperature would quickly follow suit, it was time to start the homeward loop up through Clayton and then back across to Pakenham and home.

Much to my surprise Scoop’s was still open. What would a ride be if it didn’t involve a stop for ice cream – possibly also the last of the year? A double scoop of burgundy cherry didn’t do much to raise my body temperature, but it sure was good for the soul!

As I was having my ice cream, a school bus pulled up. The female driver got out with her last 2 charges – 5 or 6-year-old girls – and bought them both, and herself, an ice cream. I never had a bus driver give me anything but a hard time, and so I told them how lucky they were. They got back on the bus, all giggles and chatter, pony tails and striped leggings, and headed to the same place I was going – home.

P.S. The weatherman is calling for double-digit temperatures for next week – very un-November-like. Another last ride perhaps? We live in hope. But I know for sure Scoop’s is now closed for the season, so it just won’t be the same, whatever happens.