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Ride in Peace

Last weekend when Harley and I went out for a ride, we were hoping to see some of our riding friends we haven’t seen since last fall.  As you all know, winter seemed to last forever and it was followed by a cold and wet spring, so we haven’t ridden much since last fall and were anxious to get out and see familiar faces and share some new stories.

One of my favorite things about riding is the people we meet along the way and the connections we have made with others we normally would have never known.  Bikers and riders come from all walks of life but we all have one thing in common … the motorcycle.  If you’ve got one it’s because you love it.  And you love riding it.  And you love talking about it with others who have one too.

It’s such a great feeling to come in from a hot, sweaty ride into a cool, dark bar and belly up to get an ice cold drink.  And then the conversations begin. Sometimes it’s just us and the bartender and other times it’s a mixed bag of bikers, weekend riders and locals.  We have met some super cool people because of the bike and I am proud to call them my friends.

We met Tophat a few years ago.  He roared into a local bike night with loud pipes and a crazy getup.  As he blasted by where Harley and I were sitting, we both did a double-take.  Me:  Was that guy wearing a top hat?  Harley:  Was that a skeleton tied to the back?

That would be a yes on both counts.  Not only was he wearing a leather top hat, but the skeleton sitting on the back of his bike had on a long black wig and was wearing stilettos.  To complete the look, on the back of his vest was a huge patch of a skeleton wearing a top hat.  GOALS.

We decided then and there that we could never … ever … be as cool as this guy.

Not long after that night, we mentioned to someone that we had seen a dude riding a Harley and wearing a top hat and they said that we had seen Tophat.  Everyone knew Tophat.  And everyone who knew him liked him.  He was funny as $hit.  How do I know, you ask?  Because we met him.

He was standing next to me in line one night and I thought, “O. Magawd.  I’m standing next to Tophat!”  So I looked kind of sideways at him and said (in a very Napoleon Dynamite way), “I like your hat.”  And he turned to me with a huge grin and said, “Thanks!”  I motioned for Harley to come over and we started a conversation that has lasted off and on for a few years.

You always knew when Tophat was pulling up because of his unmistakable silhouette.  Not to mention the skeleton.  And you always knew when Tophat was around, because his larger than life personality had everyone around him laughing and joking around.  He basically caused a ruckus.

So when we were out for our maiden voyage of the year Sunday Funday ride last weekend we were really hoping to see Tophat. We don’t always see everyone every time we are out riding, but we looked for him at each stop nonetheless.  Next week, we told ourselves… we will see him next week.

Next week will never come.  We found out a few days ago that our friend passed away on Tuesday morning.  Tophat’s real name was Justin.  He had a life, friends and family who knew him so much better that we ever could.  I don’t mean to diminish their loss by writing about my own sadness.  I hope that they know how much we enjoyed his company and always looked forward to seeing him when we were out and about.

I’ve got to provide a disclaimer here for the picture.  I did not take it and I do not know the person who did, but I found it on Facebook and it basically summed up Tophat as I knew him and I wanted to share it.

Next weekend we will all gather to honor Tophat’s life.  Harley and I will forever remember how happy he made us that first night we met him because the coolest biker we’d ever seen welcomed us and made us feel like we were part of the local biking community.  Tophat, you will be missed more than you know.  Ride in peace, brother.

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Family Foundations

The older we get, the more things we lose … car keys, sunglasses, height, memory, to name a few.  The other things we tend to lose are much more precious … pets, friends, parents, family.  The older I get the more I cherish the latter. We all do.  Earlier this summer my family lost one of my cousins and our hearts are broken. We may not have seen a lot of each other in the recent past, but there is another hole in our family and we will never be the same.

It saddens me for opportunities lost and memories that will not me made that would have included her.  While talking with my other cousins, one of them mentioned that we need to start making plans to get together again instead of waiting for another family funeral.  One of them said that if we don’t start doing something, our family is going to fall apart.  The torch doesn’t pass from one generation to another if you are passive.  It only passes if you make the effort.

Family
My beautiful Mumsies with one of my aunts and a cuzzie … back in the day

Today my cousins are coming to my house.  It’s just a small group, but we feel like it is a start.  We have common childhood memories and we all have different stories about the same people and I can’t wait to reconnect.  In this day and age of technology and social media it’s easy to become lazy about making time for the important people in your life.  REAL time. But if we don’t make the effort, then the measure of what is lost will be gone forever.

I hope that one day we will be able to rebuild again what our parents made for us. The foundation of a family.  We all already have the immediate family foundations, but I I’m talking about the larger picture … generations of the same family who know each other, love each other and who are there for each other.  Forever.

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Summer Celebrations

The 4th of July might just be my favorite holiday.  Most of this comes from a lazy perspective:  there is little to no decorating involved, no gifts need to be researched, bought and wrapped, you CAN clean your house, but because most of the festivities take place outside you don’t HAVE to clean your house.  Plus there’s the fact that it’s not cold outside AND you get to play with fire.

This was our first 4th of July in our new house and we rang it in with a bang!  Okay so it was rainy most of the day, but that didn’t stop us from gorging ourselves on a fabulous 4th food feast, swimming, playing yard games and shooting off fireworks.  Friends and family alike came for the day and stayed well into the evening.  A good time was had by all.  Well, until Baby O got his leg stuck in the door, Bam-Bam almost blew off a finger and Clark came close to setting himself on fire with a sparkler.  So maybe I should add the disclaimer that a good time was had by all for the most part.

Yes, they are all okay. Although Bam-Bam had been bleeding from the leg earlier in the evening from something that was either accidentally shot at him or he unintentionally dropped on himself.  Let me say this about Bam-Bam:  he is self-disciplined when it comes to working out, eating right and generally taking care of himself.  But also … he can be like a bull in a china shop … aka: a hot freaking mess.  If something is going to happen, and it doesn’t happen to me, it’s going to happen to him.  So am I sorry that his leg was bleeding?  Yes.  Am I surprised? No.

Watching our family and friends gather and celebrate just warmed the cockles of my heart.  Yes, my cockles!  It also brought back my earliest memories from July 4th’s of the past.  When I was growing up, we didn’t always live near family and would fly back to the Midwest in the summers.  I remember being given a punk (why are they called that anyway?) and a box of snakes. The sunshine was bright, the sky was blue, the clouds were puffy and the air was so humid it almost felt like it was pushing me into the ground.  But there I was outside on the sidewalk, watching little black blocks smoke and  hiss their way into long ropey-like snakes that would turn into dust with the touch of a finger.  It was magical!  Between the snakes, playing non-stop with my fun-loving cousins and my grandma’s fried chicken … I was a goner for the holiday.

This year Clark and Bam-Bam got the fireworks for our celebration.  I told them about my lifelong love of the magical snakes, but they couldn’t find them.  What they DID find, however, was much, much better.  It was called the Pooping Puppy.  Yes, it’s exactly what you’re thinking.  It was a cardboard dog with its tail in the air and a fuse sticking out of it’s pooping-area.  I got the honor of lighting said fuse.  And guess what?  It “pooped” out the snakes of my childhood!  I’m pretty sure I jumped up and down and clapped my hands with glee.  The wondrous wonders of firecrackers!

They also picked out a special firework just for me … The Frog Princess.  It was a ball of hot-pink foil with a frog-like face.  I lit that sucker on fire and the eyes and mouth GLOWED OFF AND ON like magic while fountains of spark showers rained out the top of her round, froggy head.  It was the best thing ever!  I didn’t think to take pictures during the festivities so that you could have seen the Pooping Puppy and Frog Princess for yourselves.

So the next day, Harley and the baby grownups cleaned up the warzone-like backyard while I dragged my festivity-weary self to work.  When I got home they had put all the firework trash in the firepit so we could just burn up the rest of the cardboard pieces in one fell swoop.  Pretty ingenious, if you ask me.  We waited until after dinner for the day-after burning and I came outside to water plants while Clark poured lighter fluid all over the trash/firepit.   Harley and Clark sat close to the firepit on the patio while Powerpuff lounged nearby on the outside loveseat.  It was a lovely evening.  And then suddenly something decided it wasn’t finished showing off and decided to start the show all over again.  I heard a loud whistling sound and looked over to see the firepit ablaze with fire and sparks.  Unfortunately for Clark, it was pointed directly at him … and it was the Neon Patriot, our grand finale fountain. Oh, irony.

Clark jumps up to get out of the line of direct fire and I see Powerpuff standing inside looking on from behind the storm door.  How she got in there so fast without actually moving, I don’t know.  But who am I to question the power of the puff?  I’m just standing there frozen, with my mouth open, holding the still-spraying hose.  Do I think to point it at the fire and help?  Nope!  Just stood there.  Harley was the only one who seemed unaffected.  He just sat there gazing into the firework display at his feet and smoking a cigarette like it was an everyday occurrence.   Thank goodness it didn’t last long and nobody was hurt.  Of course, after it was all over, Bam-Bam sticks his out the door and says, “I told you that was going to happen.”

frogprincess.jpg
The Frog Princess looks out accusingly as the only survivor of the day-after burning

 

Someone at work told me last week to have a memorable 4th. I wasn’t sure at the time if that was a good thing or a bad thing.  But they were right … if nothing else, it was memorable.

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Back in the Saddle

There are boxes in our house again.  But this time the boxes are moving and we aren’t.  Our baby grown-ups are moving out and starting their own lives.  We call them our baby grown-ups, although we are talking about twenty-somethings.  Our younger kids are already gone and the oldest is the last to go.

One year ago we packed up everything we owned and moved into a new (to us) house and have spent the last year making it a home.  Now that we’ve made it a home for the four of us, it is a little bittersweet to finally have the house to just the two of us.

You may remember me … I’ve been around before … a couple of times actually.  I envy those of you who have started out and kept going.  I recently read that one of my previous blogger-buddies has just posted his 900th blog (Go Ben!).  But since the dust has settled from moving out of my life, leaving my 22-year marriage, sending my baby to college, falling in love with Harley, selling my house, moving in with Harley and Bam-Bam, buying a house with Harley and everything else that has happened …. I finally find myself with the itch to tip-tap away at my keyboard and re-join the virtual world.  That being said, I’m back to share my life with you again.

Between the two of us, we have three twenty-somethings:  Bam-Bam, Trixie and Clark.  In that order.  Our youngest, Clark, is a hot-shot marine and is currently stationed in Japan. He is home on leave for a couple of weeks and we are soaking up every minute with him.  Trixie lives with her fiancée in the Pacific Northwest and is chasing her dreams in the fashion world. Bam-Bam and his girlfriend, Powerpuff, are the ones packing up and moving into their first apartment next week.  Sidenote:  we sometimes refer to Bam-Bam and Powerpuff as The Vegans.  Not because they are vegans, but because they workout all the time, meal-prep and eat healthy.  No, it doesn’t make complete sense, but it makes enough.

With Clark adding to the hustle and bustle of young adult energy in our house, it’s hard to image what it will feel like when he returns to Japan and the vegans move out.  But just as we have with everything else so far, I’m sure we will figure it out.  It seems like I’m always trying to find the new normal.  Hence, the blog name. Not only am I metaphorically riding again in the blogging world, but in so many other facets of my life.  Things are constantly changing.   Life goes on.  And it is good.