Maintaining the Balance; Yeah… I’m A Bit Odd
It was one of my non-work-at-the-office Fridays and I didn’t even need to work from home: it was an honest-to-goodness day off. This allowed me to turn the tables and say goodbye to my sweetie as she headed off to work vs the other way around. Now, I should probably note it’s not that I don’t enjoy my work; I actually do. Unfortunately, so much of what I do and support is highly subjective and often times infused with lots of politics, positioning and gamesmanship that it can make “getting the work done” a bit of a challenge. So, getting an extra day where I don’t have to go into that work mindset is a nice thing.
My coping tools for the mental challenges at work include being a little bit eccentric when it comes to adhering to the status quo, i.e., living each day in a suit-and-tie world where executive presence is actually something that needs to be factored into everything you do, what you say, how you say it and how you look.
Those coping tools for the past 20 of 30 years or so have included my goatee and slightly longish hair vs. the AFR35-10 high & tight look that so many of my peers sport to parallel how our military customers look. I also have my western boots and then there’s my preferred mode of transportation to and from work everyday regardless of the weather or season: motorcycle vs. car. Because of the daily motorcycle commute, I have to keep my ‘dress boots’ under my desk and swap them out for my riding boots each morning and afternoon. It’s one of the tricks to being a motorcycle commuter who wears a suit, tie and crisp white shirts. The other is folding my suit coat and tie in a plastic dry-cleaning bag so they maintain their press when they’re stuffed into a small duffel bag that I carry in one of the two side cases on my motorcycles, noting that rain gear is kept in the other case.
Having shaved off the goatee I’ve been sporting for at least 20 years after our trip to Key West in July, I do look a little more corporate these days. However, my hair is still a little longish but through the miracle of hair gel, I can pull-off a clean-cut look from the front when I keep my hair slicked-back and gathered. As you might expect, a transformation takes place every morning at work since I arrive with helmet hair from the motorcycle ride-in before I hit my hair with a dollop of gel. Every once in a while I’ll get busy when I walk in the door at 6:00am and end up heading off to my first meetings around 7:30am before slicking-back my hair and putting on a tie. It catches my boss a bit by surprise when I show up at the 9:00am meetings looking very different from just 90 minutes earlier. Yet another trick of the trade as a motorcycle commuter.
As mentioned last week, the BMW is back on the road and pulling that commuter duty again. Having been back on the BMW instead of my Dyna Wide Glide for the first time since late May, I will say the BMW’s been a refreshing change. As much as I enjoy riding the Dyna, I always equate being on a Harley with recreational riding so it felt a bit odd riding a bike I use for ‘fun’ to a the trip into the office every day, whereas the BMW definitely feels like my more adult bike… if that’s possible.
With the BMW being out of commission I’ve ridden the Dyna more in the last two and half months than I have in the last two and a half years and have definitely gotten my groove back when it comes to riding the very chopper-like, forward control Wide Glide. Despite the aforementioned recreational nature of the Dyna I will in all likelihood ride it to work a few times a week going forward on those days when the weather is conducive to riding without any protection from the elements. This has become easier since our Road King ‘Blue’ is now our recreational bike, noting I rarely ride it without Debbie or for anything other than social riding. Hey, it’s nice to have options!
Getting Back to the Weekend: Friday
Picking up where I left off about 653 words ago, after Debbie was on her way to work on Friday morning I caught up on some personal Email and then turned my attention to washing Blue.
If you read last weekend’s blog you will have known we just returned from a 600 mile trip to North Carolina and Tennessee where we encountered rain on two of the three days and that left Blue a mess. I’d scheduled an appointment to have the rear tire on Blue replaced at Atlanta Harley-Davidson on Friday afternoon and there was no way I was going to take it in filthy, as that just makes the job that much more trouble for their mechanics.
With Blue washed, I found myself with about an hour and a half of free time. I thought about doing some painting and patching on the outside of the house, but then decided I owed it to myself to get some time on a bicycle of some sort since the only thing we rode last weekend was the Harley. And, with rain falling every day this week, the trails were closed so there were no opportunities to get in any evening off-road rides either.
It wasn’t a long ride — about 20 miles — but it felt good to get out. The temps were in the upper 70’s but with high humidity so I was soaking wet by the time I finished the ride. After finishing the ride I was thinking what I really need to do is to start getting up at 4:00am and getting in a 20-mile pre-work morning ride. Long-long-long time readers may recall it was on that 4:00am ride during an October over 10 years back that someone took a shot at me with a .22 air pistol, leaving a rather nasty nick and massive bruise on my inner thigh. The crime was reported to the local police but nothing ever came of it; imagine that. That whole experience took the wind out of my sails as far as riding before work and I never got the inspiration back. However, I’m thinking it may be time to start doing that again: we’ll see what happens.
After getting back to the house and grabbing a shower I headed off to meet the lovely Miss Debbie at The Red Eyed Mule for our every other Friday lunch date. The Jake’s Big Daddy did not disappoint!! And, more importantly, it never gets old either! Hey, when we find things we like, we rarely tire of them. It’s also truly a special treat to see Debbie in the middle of a work day; I just love her and the more time we have together the better life is!
After lunch Debbie headed back to work and I headed over to Atlanta Harley-Davidson for my 1:00pm tire change appointment, stopping briefly along the way to get my hair trimmed. It took about 2 hours for the tire change of which 20 minutes was consumed on the front end for engine cool down and another 30 minutes was consumed on the back-end for a bike wash that I probably should have told them to skip. In addition to changing out the rear tire our tech Bryan also noted the two bolts that connect the exhaust system’s crossover pipe hangar to the transmission case had gone missing and he replaced those as well: gotta love it when you have folks who always go above and beyond when they’re working on your bike. Bryan even came out to check how we rode the bike so he could set the tire pressure correctly, e.g., one-up or two-up most of the time. Again, a lot of care and attention to detail.
I got home around 4:00pm which gave me enough time to jump in my truck and head-off to drop-off & pick up shirts from the dry cleaners, buy some avocado’s and tortilla chips so I could make my sweetie some guacamole to go with her frozen margarita when she got home (she was stressing all day for some reason so I knew she’d need to unwind before our evening got underway), and pick up some cash from the bank which would get me home in time to make a batch of guacamole and spin-up the maggies before she arrived around 5:30pm. This was going to be essential since our regular routine — Finally a Friday at Loco Willy’s — was going to be disrupted a bit, but for a good reason: we’d be meeting friends we don’t often get to spend time with at Olde Towne Tavern & Grille before heading over to Loco’s.
Debbie knew she was going to get a margarita when she arrived home — a substitute for the one she wouldn’t be getting at Loco’s — since Olde Towne has never masted the frozen drink thing. Some of the gals are able to spin up a pretty good strawberry daiquiri in an old blender, but maggies and Pina Colada’s… not so much. However, Debbie was thrilled when I pulled out the guacamole and tortilla chips: the at home cocktail hour with chips and dip finally allowed her to unwind a bit and that was a good thing!
We finished up our cocktail hour at home around 6:00pm and headed off to Olde Towne where we met our friends Bobby, Carrie Ann, Sharon & Jeff at the back bar. A short time later Ryan & Jeanette arrived and we eventually moved to one of the two larger tables after another party left. We ended up staying for dinner vs. our original plan to just drop-by as we were really having a great time catching up with our friends: we just don’t get to spend much time with them, so it’s always a treat when we can align our schedules for an evening out. After dinner at Olde Towne we motored over to Loco’s en masse where we spent another hour socializing. We were joined by Zack and Taylor who offered up Legend’s as the next stop. Sadly, Debbie had to be up early on Saturday for Grandmother duty so we had to pass on Legends and headed home. It was a great day, to be sure…
Saturday “At Home”
As mentioned, Debbie was scheduled to sit with dear little Vivian from 9:30am until 6:00pm while Wesley & Julie took Caroline and Charlotte over to Six Flags over Georgia for a ‘Corporate Day’ hosted by Wesley’s firm. So, Debbie was up and out of the house early again while I got to hang back and do “other stuff.”
Other stuff ended up including a trip to Costco for provisions, a stop at the optometrist to make an appointment for my annual eye exam (I went for five years between my last check-ups, and that wasn’t smart) which for the first time will include a discussion about contact lenses. Yeah, I’m thinking it may be time… just too many activities associated with cycling and motorcycling where having umpteen different pairs of eyewear just isn’t practical and not wearing corrective lenses is also no longer an option in low-light conditions.
I also stopped in to look at hardwood flooring, as I still need to re-do the downstairs floors this fall; uggg! The hits to the bank account just keep on coming. At least it’s something I can do myself for about 1/2 the cost of paying someone else to do the work. But, finding the right flooring… that’s the challenge. I want a gloss finish on engineered rustic oak and almost everything on the market has a matte finish these days. The search continues.
Once I was back at home I decided to get in another bike ride, hopefully being the second of three for the weekend. I always feel a lot better when I get a couple of hours on a bicycle, pretty much like a motorcycle ride but with cardio and a sense of accomplishment!!!
With the bike ride in the books I turned my attention to a load of laundry while I knocked out the yard work, i.e., pulling weeds and cutting the lawn. It gets old and every time I walk the yard and tell myself “it’s good exercise and mentally satisfies the need to bond with the Earth” my other little voice says go find a townhouse or a small house on a large wooded lot without any lawn!
Yeah, I’m also growing weary of neighbors, so that townhouse may not be the best option either. Anyway, with the lawn cut and laundry well underway I turned my attention to our closet and spent a good hour re-sorting Debbie’s clothes so she’d have all of her sleeveless blouses in one section sub-ordered by color, sleeved blouses in another, a summer-dress section, a business attire section, a Harley motor clothes section, the leather section and the none-of-the-above section which was right along side the Miss Me jeans / shorts section. Yeah, I’m pretty OCD like that, but she really liked having her clothes sorted that way when she saw it.
Debbie made it home around 6:30pm and we jumped in the truck and headed over to Loco Willy’s for dinner. Well, at least we’ve consolidated where our dining-out dollars go! Seriously, if the food wasn’t so good and the company at and behind the bar so wonderful we wouldn’t be there so often. It’s just “our place”.
We ended our night watching the last Bond film, Skyfall… which sure seemed a lot better the first time. On the second watching it was not where as good as the last three Bond films, noting Casino Royale was definitely going to be hard to top. Here’s hoping the upcoming release of Specter will be on par with Casino Royale.
Sunday “At Home”
With just three weekends at home before we spend three of four weekends out-of-town in October, we stayed close to the house today as well. It was really nice being “at home” for the weekend.
A cold front blew through Saturday night and instead of waking up to temps in the 70’s the thermometer was reading in the low-50’s when I got up around 6:30am. The temps moved into the 60’s by 10:00am which gave us time to get laundry and some other indoor chores out-of-the-way before we headed out for a bicycle ride from the house.
We were originally planning to head out to Madison, Georgia, about an hour and 20 minute drive, for the monthly Tandem Club of Georgia ride. However, with our tandem still being at Calfee in California for a repair to a broken weld, we opted to skip September’s ride. We had some very good friends offer us the use of their spare tandems while ours was sidelined, but I think we were good with our decision to sit-out the September ride as we did have a lot of things to do around the house and the Madison trip would have consumed the entire day. So, being without our tandem was a mixed blessing.
With laundry well underway and the day shaping up to be one of the nicest that we’ve had in a long time — clear blue skies, mild temps in the 70’s and a lovely breeze blowing — the temptation to hop on Blue and head to the mountain was strong. However, we were committed to staying put and also getting in a bicycle ride, so that’s what we did.
It had been a long time since Debbie and I had last ridden our single bikes together and it was actually a very nice treat. Without a doubt, we truly enjoy being on the tandem together more so that riding our single bikes together for all of the reasons that riding a tandem is so attractive: you’re always together, nobody gets left behind due to differences in ability on any given day and it’s all about team work!
After enjoying our ride we cleaned up, hopped on Blue and headed off to — you guessed it — Loco Willy’s for hot wings. Hey, it WAS Sunday!
The temps made long-sleeves mandatory and we took along jackets just in case. It was definitely borderline since our bodies are still calibrated to hot weather and not yet ready for the cooler air that comes quickly as fall sets in during late September. Yes indeed, I’m pretty sure it’s a safe bet that we’re always happiest when we’re together and even more so when we’re on any type of bike together. Honestly, I’m pretty sure almost all of our free time in retirement will be spent riding bicycles and motorcycles; what could be better!
Loco’s was packed, given that football season is now in full swing which makes finding a seat at either the indoor or outdoor bars after 1:00pm nearly impossible. Thankfully, we found a corner seat open at the indoor bar and one bar stool for Debbie is all we ever need. I’m pretty sure I could spend most of my waking hours standing instead of sitting, noting that I eat all of my meals at home during the week standing at the kitchen counter along side Debbie who sits at our kitchen bar table . So, standing at Loco’s bar and eating my wings was a natural fit. And, just to torment our readers who know good wings and fries when they see them…
After finishing our wings we headed over to Mulligan’s Food & Spirits — a for-real bike joint — where they were having a fund-raising event for one of the regulars who was battling cancer. For those who aren’t part of the biker community, I’d venture a guess that just about every biker bar and Harley dealer sponsor at least one fund-raising event each weekend, which is pretty awesome. Yes, it’s also good for business since it draws in folks who are always looking to support a good cause that also gives them an excuse to hop on a motorcycle and go to some place where there are other like-minded folks to socialize with. About 4/5th of these events also involve some type of group ride. Today’s event was all contained at Mulligan’s and it gave us another chance to catch up with friends who we only see at these events and bike weeks in Florida. We didn’t stay long, but long enough to see and say hello to most everyone we knew. Just really good folks.
We headed home after that so that I could do a little more yard work — replacing the late summer flowers with early fall color — before calling it a weekend. I think we may have over achieved as we both petered out by 7:00pm. In fact, I actually fell asleep for about an hour and woke up to a dark house with Debbie already upstairs and asleep at 9:30pm. Of course, being the insomniac that I am, I’m still up at midnight writing this blog entry. Well, enough is enough, time to call it a night and to close the book on this weekend.