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Showing posts with label motorcycles. Show all posts
Showing posts with label motorcycles. Show all posts

Friday, December 16, 2011 22 comments

#FridayFlash: To Begin With

I’m not sure about this one, so feel free to pound on it if you’re so inclined.

To Begin With

Source: Wikimedia Commons
The Harley was dead, to begin with.

Finds like this are rare nowadays. Almost every barn, shed, and garage in the world has been mined for vintage motorcycles. Those who still have them have an idea of what they’re worth — gone are the days when they’d almost pay you to cart off that hunk of rust.

I didn’t get it for free, but a hundred bucks is close. “Yeah,” the old lady said, “I could probably get a lot more for it, but I’d have to put it up for sale. To be honest, I need the space in the shed more than I need the money. My husband brought that thing home… oh God, thirty years ago. He left it there all this time, then he passed away last year, just as he finally started tinkering with it.” I didn’t exactly argue with her about the price. Maybe I should have — if I’d offered her something close to what it was worth, she might have still let me have it for the hundred bucks, but… well, I’m getting ahead of myself.

She watched as I pushed it out of the shed and onto my trailer. It was a tough slog — the tires were flat and rotten, and the axles turned only under protest. The chain was caked with grease, which was good because it didn’t impede me even more. The clutch cable was frozen, but I managed to find neutral after a few attempts.

“I think I got the better end of this transaction,” said the old lady, with a sardonic smile, after I wrestled the bike onto the trailer and got a couple tie-downs on it. “Would you like something to drink?”

“Sure,” I said. “But seriously, you’re letting this go for —”

She waved off my protest. “Coffee or tea?”

“Water would be fine,” I said. She nodded and ducked into the house, bringing out an old green tumbler full of ice water as I finished securing my prize.

“Mitch wi— would be pleased,” she said as I drained the glass. “At least someone’s taking on his old project.” She paused a moment as I handed her the tumbler. “Well, I’m sure you’re anxious to get home and start fixing it up.”

The restoration went much smoother than expected. I had to tear it down, of course, but the insides were in much better shape than I could have hoped for — almost no wear on the bearings, and no scoring on the cylinder walls. The odometer’s 1300 miles could well have been honest. The frame was sound, and most of the rust was only on the surface. A few hundred bucks’ worth of parts, and a bunch of evenings spent the way I like spending them, and I had a vintage bike easily worth eight grand. Maybe ten.

It was Christmas Eve when I hooked up the battery. Cold outside, but warm enough in the garage. I thumbed the compression release, squeezed the clutch, and stood on the kickstarter. To my surprise and delight, it coughed to life on the third kick! “Merry Christmas! It lives!” I shouted. I let it warm up while donning my cold-weather gear.

“Where to?” I asked the bike. Friends were drifting off… but Jim had said something about a Christmas party at his place tonight. It was only ten miles away, and my gear was good for thirty in this weather. I backed out of the garage, flipped on the headlight, and was on my way.

The Harley was alive!

I’d gone maybe a mile when the rabbit dashed across the road. The bike surged on me, as if jumping at the rabbit, and we nailed it before I had a chance to brake or throttle back. I grimaced, but there wasn’t much I could do about it. Evolution in action, etc.

I was almost to Jim’s place when it started sputtering. I cursed and pulled to the side under a street light, working the spark advance to keep it running, and leaned over to look. Nothing leaking, but that didn’t mean anything. I could have missed a piece of crud in the fuel system — or worse, an oil line — and now I was paying the price. I took off a glove to twist the petcock, then cut a finger groping for it. A second later, the engine smoothed out. I wrapped a napkin from my pocket around my finger, then put the glove back on. Whatever crud it was, I thought, it must have passed through.

Jim’s party paused for a few minutes, because everyone heard my grand entrance and wanted to see the bike. Beer flowed freely, and I drank more than usual when on two wheels. Jim offered to let me stay over, but the Harley started right up again and I rolled out.

A rat scurried out in front of me on the way home. Again, the Harley surged and caught it. Too weird, I thought, but I had no idea anything was wrong until I got to the turn home… and kept going. I couldn’t get the bike to slow down, no matter how hard I throttled back or braked. Straight on we went, into the ugly part of town.

Close to midnight, I saw the drunk staggering along the sidewalk up ahead… and so did the bike. The headlight died, and I braced myself for what was coming. The drunk stumbled into the street and the Harley surged again. I wrestled the handlebars, but the bike was in control: it swerved at the last second, kicking the back end around and slapping the drunk back to the sidewalk. The reaction pushed us out of the skid. We kept going, and haven’t stopped yet.

So if you see me coming, get away from the road.

The Harley is undead. And it’s hungry.

Friday, June 17, 2011 24 comments

#FridayFlash: Purple Indian

This story has been kicking around in my head for a long time. It finally found its way out.

Purple Indian

I was riding to work on a beautiful morning, running a little late as usual. But that meant traffic was mostly cleared out. I like to avoid the freeways on a motorcycle, back roads are quiet and usually more fun anyway.

So it was, I was on Old Atlanta Road that morning. I glanced at my mirror and saw a big cruiser behind me, coming up fast, so I eased over and waved him around. I like to ride my own ride, and let others ride theirs.

He came around me, but slowed so we were side-by-side for a moment. I usually don’t like that, but I made an exception for a gorgeous custom Indian Four. Some people go way overboard on the chrome and billet, but this guy knew where to draw the line and stayed well back from it — the paint did the talking, with a few small bits of chrome as highlights. The frame was painted royal purple. The tank and big skirted fenders were the same color, with green checkers — sounds hideous, but it looked great. Worn leather saddlebags, with no fringes or conchos, completed the look. A serious bike for a serious rider.

And he looked the part. You see posers all the time, but this guy was for real. Sturdy leather boots, jeans, an aviator jacket. The only oddball item was the replica Nazi helmet, and yet it looked right on him. Goggles covered part of his face, but he looked young younger than me.

I gave him a thumbs-up. “Beautiful!” I shouted. He gave me a nod and a smile, then gassed it and rolled on by. The final surprise was, I didn’t get blasted by a three-digit decibel tailpipe. There was a growl, but nothing that would startle a sleeping baby awake or upset an elderly couple. Inline fours are a lot smoother than V-twins anyway.

We rounded a curve, and he opened up some more distance, a little faster than I was comfortable going on this road. As he topped a low hill ahead, his brake light flashed and he put his arm out, palm down — the gesture that means Slow down! Forewarned, I eased off the throttle.

Just over the hill, an SUV had mixed it up with a landscaper, pulling out of a subdivision. Both drivers were standing on the side of the road, jabbering into cell phones and giving each other dirty looks. Their vehicles blocked both lanes, but there was just enough room for a motorcycle to squeeze between the end of the landscaper’s trailer and the ditch. On the other side, the purple Indian was nowhere to be seen. I spent some time wondering how he’d managed to slow down enough to thread that needle; his bike was big and he’d been moving at a pretty good clip. Then I got to work and forgot all about it.

Time went by, and a local pub put on a vintage bike show one weekend. I managed to find some excuse to get out of the house and rode down.

As is so often the case with these shows, it was as much about hobnobbing with fellow riders as it is the rolling sculptures. Some of the bikes were beautiful, some — like the guy who strapped a NOS canister onto the front fender of a Honda Passport — were just quirky and fun. I was admiring a restoration in progress, a 1940 Indian Chief, and the owner stepped out of his truck to say hello.

“It runs pretty good now,” he said. “I know it looks a little shabby yet, but I wanted to make it rideable before I made it pretty.”

“Good idea,” I said. “Um… hey. I was wondering, do you know anyone around here with an Indian Four? You couldn’t miss it, it’s purple with green checkers —”

He got a funny look, and for a moment I thought I’d stepped into something. “Uh… let’s go inside. There’s someone who knows him. He’ll want to hear this.”

He led me to a table where an old man sat, nursing a beer. I tried to recall the guy I’d seen a few months back, and thought there might be some family resemblance. My host whispered something, nodding at me, and one eyebrow cocked up. He motioned us to sit.

“Tell me,” he said, and took a sip of beer.

“Not much to tell. I saw him on Old Atlanta Road one morning, and he warned me about a wreck just over the top of a hill. I don’t have a clue how he didn’t get mixed up in it, he was moving pretty quick.”

“Indian Four, purple with green checkers?” I nodded. “That was my brother, all right.”

“Brother?” I was sure he meant grandson.

“Yup. He was part of the D-Day force. He had a Medal of Honor, but he never talked much about that day. Some things you just aren’t meant to see, hey?

“So he came back. He’d been wounded, but it was the wounds up here —” he tapped his balding skull — “that didn’t heal right. And he was — I guess you young folks call it ‘gay’ these days. Not such a big deal now, but back then you had to hide it. Especially around here. So there was this war hero that wore his skin, and himself hiding inside. He bought that motor-sickle, gave it that outrageous paint job, and just — disappeared.”


“Oh, he’s still around. Out where he’s respected.”

He waved, and a waitress approached. “Let me buy you a beer. It’s good to hear from people who see him. I figure it won’t be a couple years before he comes home and takes me for a ride.”

Saturday, February 26, 2011 5 comments

Weekend Roundup

There’s been enough stuff going on, but not enough time to post mid-week. I hate when that happens, so I’ll just dump everything in one post…

The Boy and I replaced brake pads on both my Civic and Mrs. Fetched’s on Monday afternoon (which was a paid holiday in the US). Doing this without a C-clamp — or rather, being unable to find any of several C-clamps I should have around the manor — to push the brake piston into the caliper can be rather difficult. After a lot of frustration, I hit on the idea of using this gigantic ancient screwdriver I found laying on the highway to pry against the brake pad, and that worked. The next three calipers combined took us less time than the first.

But I’d been hearing some disturbing rumors, and decided to come right out and ask The Boy about it: “Are you and Snippet back together?”



Fortunately, what goes up must come down, and The Boy came in from work this morning in a sour mood. Seems that Snippet is “still confused about whether she loves me, so I made it really easy on her, I’m done with her.” WOOHOOOO!!! I hope it’s permanent this time. Snippet may have made threats about getting custody of Mason (not gonna happen) because he’s talking about having him “legitimized.” Seems like since Mason’s family name (on his birth certificate) is the same as The Boy’s, it shouldn’t be difficult. Besides, the paper granting Mrs. Fetched guardianship obligates her to make sure he’s cared for. Snippet didn’t care enough to get her skinny @$$ out of bed in the afternoon to take care of him when she was here, so why would things be different when nobody’s trying to get her to do anything at all?

Excuses for not writing:

1) Your grandbaby snatched your pen and Moleskine out of your shirt pocket. (See, I’ve got proof!)

2) The rest of the family thinks that watching TV is infinitely more important than taking care of said grandbaby, so they drop the kid on the one person who has better things to do than watch TV.

3) Feline interference.

Actually, I’ve been doing some writing… mostly #FridayFlash stories. I just haven’t had much time to dedicate to a serious edit of White Pickups, which is needed to fix various issues. There’s also a sequel to attend to. I wasn’t planning to serialize that one here on the blog, but if that’s what it takes to get me to finish it… I’ll need lots of urging in the comments as I post episodes though. Ideas come fast and furious these days, and even if they don’t, there are various writing prompts to try. Not to mention ideas I’ve shelved…

There are various “collectors” out there, and I’ve started submitting White Pickups to the Tuesday Serial collector and my flash stories to the FridayFlash collector. I had what I think is a wicked-cool idea for a flash collector: send a story link, it strips out everything but the story and compiles all submissions into a weekly anthology (or magazine if you prefer) in both ePub and MOBI formats. The whole thing could be automated — probably would have to be if it caught on — and would give people who have eReaders and long stretches of time offline the chance to keep up with the many good stories being blogged out there.

Some people put audio versions of their flash stories on Audioboo. My test run with that suggests the story needs to be around 750 words maximum to fit in the 5 minutes provided there. But I might try it. I do occasionally write something really short (I have one that’s less than 200 words in current trim) so I do have some fodder to work with.

I would love to take a vacation. Daughter Dearest is home for spring break, which would have been a good time to go. Oh well, I hope it means I’ll get a little relief from the near-nightly (and all weekend) Mason-sitting for a couple weeks. The Boy and I did take him over to the park this afternoon, among other things, and he didn’t want to go back inside when we got home. He needed a nap, and refused to take one, then finally demanded a bottle. He usually only gets a bottle at bedtime now, but we were both tired and cranky and I figured it was worth a try. He was out in ten minutes.

Oh, and the battery died in my motorcycle — at work, naturally. Fortunately, it’s light enough to push to the top of the driveway and I was able to roll-start it and get home. But with gas prices going through the roof all of a sudden, this wasn’t the time. (But is there ever a good time to have your battery die?)

Saturday, August 28, 2010 2 comments

Pack Rats Rule, and a Farewell to iPhone

Serendipity: the occurrence and development of events by chance in a happy or beneficial way

With The Boy working (he has A JOB!!!), and Daughter Dearest back to college, I’ve had to jump back on the motorcycle and ride to work. I got a chain, put it on, got it adjusted, and all that a couple weekends ago, so that was no problem. The problem is, I’ve been carrying the iPad to work with me and there’s the occasional “slight” chance of rain for that ride home in the afternoon. I thought, what I need is a waterproof pouch that I can stick the case in, and decided I’d make a run to the motorcycle shop to see if they had anything.

As it turned out… I was looking for Mason’s sling one day this week and found something else — a zip-sealed plastic pouch that the case came in! Not only is it waterproof, it’s a perfect fit and it was free with the case. WIN! I remember when I got the case, thinking I might be able to use that pouch for something… at last, the pack rat in me gets the best of the situation! Of course, now that I have the pouch, I haven’t needed to worry about rain.

Now that August is winding down, and our cellphone contract along with it, Mrs. Fetched wanted to go into the AT&T office and see what we could save by dumping our iPhones. Mine has been flaky for several months now, and what with the iPad and numerous open wifi spots between the office and home, I’ve been ready to walk away from having a cellphone at all. Of course, Mrs. Fetched didn’t want that — while she pitched her objection as me being able to call her if I have a problem, the actual situation is that she wants to be able to reach out and nag me whenever and wherever. :-) But I digress. We went in to have a look, and it turned out that after saving $120 a month (by dropping the iPhones and reducing our minutes to something closer to our average usage), dropping my phone line would save only another $10.

Grumble… time to pick a phone and hope it works well with Macs. I tentatively decided on a Sony-Ericsson W518a, a “Walkman” phone. They have Mac drivers on their website to sync with iCal and Address Book, and another one for iTunes/iPhoto. It’s not a perfectly smooth solution, but I doubt that anything short of an iPhone would be. But since we won’t pull the trigger on this stuff until Tuesday, I’m open to suggestions (has to be on AT&T, though).

Episode 50 of White Pickups is pretty big, so I split it up into Monday and Tuesday posts. Stay tuned to see what Johnny had in mind…

Tuesday, March 10, 2009 12 comments

A Tale of “Whoa”

After buzzing up to the gas station on the motorcycle, to fill a couple of 1-gallon cans for the Civic (which I let nearly run out), I found Mrs. Fetched hadn’t returned from the chicken houses. I went there to find that the field man had delayed her, there wasn’t a problem, and she would be home shortly. I came home, dumped one of the cans into the Civic, and put the bike on the stand to clean and lube the chain (it was tight/loose enough).

After spraying the chain, and putting the guard back on, I grabbed the rear wheel and shook it on a lark. Imagine my unpleasant surprise when it wiggled… the axle bolt was finger-loose. I made sure the chain was straight and tightened it down.

That would have been more than unpleasant had the axle come out while I was on the road… I guess “check the wheel” goes on my weekly checklist from now on.

At least the front wheel and steering head bearings are good & tight.

Thursday, February 19, 2009 15 comments

We can has Fire! and Battery!

Working at home is always useful.

About 4:30, I grabbed the w0rNg battery and took it back to the motorcycle shop, and got a new one. Ironically, the smaller battery cost more — WTF? But now I have it and I’ll be ready to ride as soon as it warms up again.

After returning from the shop, I ran a chain down the chimney and it was clear all the way down. I should have known that by the way the sheet I put in front of the fireplace was getting sucked into the chamber. I brushed off some more of the accumulated crud above the damper, shoved the insert back into place, and Mrs. Fetched let 'er rip. Just in time: Winter #5 is upon us, after a rather ugly line of storms yesterday evening. The insert is burning better now than it has in a long time, nice and clean, and it’s warming up nicely in the living room.

Maybe the storms carried the Vortex of Suck™ away with them.

[Holy moly… post #900!]

Friday, September 05, 2008 7 comments

Escape from FAR Manor 2008, Day 0: August Reflections

Current Music: Clubber's Guide to Goa Trance

Welcome back to the hideaway.

I had a plan today: bail out of work around 4, get home about 5, pack up and leave by 6, arrive and check in a 7, then make a grocery/supper run and be settled in by 8. Mirabile dictu, I ended up only 20 minutes behind schedule for a change! I don’t remember off the top of my head whether I ever mentioned it, but it seems that getting going at the beginning of a vacation usually ends up some hours behind what I had hoped for. I suppose it helps that I only had myself to pack for — yup, once again I spend the first night by myself.

Which isn’t a bad thing at all… it gives me a chance to decompress and enjoy a little peace & quiet, or at most the noise I choose to make.

Packed upSince I was by myself, and I loaned The Boy my car (in return for him or his school fixing a couple of nagging problems), I decided to see just how full I could pack the motorcycle. Stuff to make bread with, beer (dry county, remember), clothes, a couple of tomatoes & an onion for later, bathroom items. The crate overfloweth, so I grabbed the cargo net that we rescued from The Barge and wrapped it all up. The load was secure, but it played with the handling a little bit… which I kind of expected because it was somewhat top-heavy. The laptop and accessories went into its courier bag, which in turn I slung over my shoulder.

I managed to get out just before 6, and arrived at the hideaway at 7… and the office was locked? Hunh? It’s open until 9! I found an empty picnic table, flipped open the laptop, then a car came by and parked at the office. Only a few minutes. Unpack, hop back on the bike, down to Cleveland, scarf a Dairy Queen burger, grab the milk, cereal, and coffee, and come back in for the night.

Now that we’re safely past August, and I have a week off, I get to breathe a sigh of relief. As I wrote in an earlier post, August is usually the month from hell around here. It was a fairly typical August, except for the unusually pleasant temps… usually, it’s either hot or too hot but I think we only broke 90°F the first couple of days. Now that we’ve slid into September, my ride this morning left my hands rather cold. It won’t be long before I put the first lining back in my riding jacket.

There were good things and even worse than usual things this year: The Boy started to show signs of growing up (!!!), Daughter Dearest started college, Jam fell off a horse and spent a week in the hospital, and both of Mrs. Fetched’s parents have been in and out of the hospital this summer (her mom with an aneurysm that needs to be patched up). The chicken houses were less of a problem this time around, only because the previous grow-out ended in July and that’s when we had the big problems. Warmer weather would actually have been useful with the new batch, because they would have needed less extra heat… but that's the way it goes in August.

But both August and the wind-up to vacation are done. Tonight, I will enjoy a beer (or several) and do a little writing. A bit of flash fiction has been nagging at me, but I haven’t had the chance to write it down. Now… much writing is anticipated. I had to walk down to the office to bogart the wifi; I could pick it up from the kitchen window with the iBook last year, but no such luck with the MacBook. Tomorrow, Mrs. Fetched (and maybe DD) will join me.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008 5 comments

Silly stuff for Tuesday

New Hope ChurchThey named their church after a Star Wars episode! How cool is that?

I’ve been thinking about printing up the following haiku on stickers & putting them on gas pumps:

Here at the gas pump,
I filled my motorcycle.
It cost 10 dollars.

Speaking of which, I had a couple people encroach in my lane this evening, within a minute of each other, ironically on the way to the gas station. First was a mini-van, then a dualie (aka Tiny P***s Compensator). I'm thinking air horns should be my next accessory. I’ve had this happen on a much larger bike and emptier road. It’s amazing how people don’t see the bike, they don’t hear the horn — but somehow or other, they see you hoist your boot off the peg to kick a dent in their door. :-P

There was a minor head-on collision in front of the gas station. One person was turning left to come in, the other turning left to come out, and they both tried to occupy the same space at the same time. Doesn’t work. Nobody hurt, fortunately, and it gave me a little cover to make the turn myself.

Then another minivan pulled off the road in front of me, about 10 miles from home. I stopped and asked him if everything was OK. He pointed at the hood and said, caliente. By the time I got back his way with a gallon of water, his motor must have cooled down… I hope he got where he was going.

Sunday, July 13, 2008 2 comments

Weekend Cinema

If it’s short, strange, and free, it must be Weekend Cinema!

Now I put a lot of miles on my motorcycle, and I’ve gotten pretty comfortable riding it. But this guy is a lot more comfortable than I’d ever want to get!

Saturday, July 12, 2008 9 comments

Raining Buckets… Literally

As I said in the last post, I rode home in the rain. The bike gave me no trouble, and I gratefully pulled into the garage, got my wet things off, then wiped down the bike (the only cleaning it’s had since I bought it). The rain was on and off until bedtime, at which point it stayed on… in spades. It poured most of the night, with lots of ground lightning really close to home. I was really grateful about not having to ride in that… I’ve done it once before and have no desire to repeat the experience. And I should write about that some time, but not now.

Wednesday rolled around, finally. Mrs. Fetched said there were buckets standing in the open that were brimming over. Her dad's rain gauge had overflowed, so we got more than 6 inches of rain. Lord knows we needed the rain, but catching up all at once? It was still raining on & off, but I’d planned to work at home so I didn’t worry about it.

Thursday morning, more (light) rain. I needed to take some stuff that I’d photographed back to work, so Mrs. Fetched let me take her car… the first time I’d driven to work for about a month. I had to repeat the experience Friday morning, since the motorcycle battery was drained — some moisture must have gotten into the ignition switch or other places where it could do unwelcome things. There was also water in the fuel, which was easily fixed by draining the float bowl.

bikesSo Jimmy, a guy who helps out with the farm stuff from time to time, has been getting tired of gas prices and bought a Lifan motorcycle — it’s basically a Chinese 200cc Honda clone — and got it plated with just a little effort. After we took care of a tree down across the fence, we brought his bike up to my place to check over. His chain was pretty loose, so we tightened it up a bit and lubed it (which it also needed), then he let me take it for a short putt. The rear sprocket on this thing is a lot bigger than it needs to be, even on a 200cc bike — it would pull from zero in 2nd gear without any trouble, and I joked about using it to pull stumps.

We decided to buzz down to the creek to see what needed to be done about the log barricade (to keep the cows from going around the fence). I learned very quickly that my habit of using the front brake so much was a bad one on dirt, but fortunately it was just pucker-inducing rather than surrender-to-gravity. But I rounded a corner in front of the pond and stopped at the gate… and no Jimmy. I was just about to go back to see if he was OK, when I heard him coming. He came around the corner a little faster than I would have thought comfortable, straightened it out, then went down. I ran back to him; he’d mostly landed on his shoulder but was only scuffed a little. The amber bezel on one of his turn signals broke; you can see it in the picture if you look carefully.

We continued down to the creek. The heavy rains had washed out the bank where the logs were, and they’d floated sideways… but they were there. We’d just need to get the tractor to pull them back into place. By the time we got back to the house, Jimmy was starting to feel a bit shocky from his get-off, so he sat it out while my father-in-law and I took care of it.

I guess you don't just dust yourself off and keep riding, like you did as a teenager, when you’re pushing 60. “He’s gonna be sooooooore in the morning.”

Tuesday, July 08, 2008 17 comments

Bike Night

The local bike shop has a “Bike Night” once a month, and they’ve recently added a Vintage Bikes segment: bring in your old bikes, and everybody votes on Best in Show for prizes. They also have a dyno with a horsepower shootout, which is mostly a curiosity when you have a stock DR-Z400 (rated 34 HP) and several bikes there made well over 100 HP.

Honda PassportsThis was one of the vintage bikes, a Honda Passport C70 with… a NOS canister???? Someone has got an even weirder sense of humor than me, and that’s saying a lot!

I came for the free food, primarily, and to see how much a new front tire is going to run me ($120) when I need to replace it, probably next month. But the good thing about these gatherings is getting to meet up with other people who love motorcycles and talk about them. Two other guys came in (together) on bikes like mine, and so we hit it off pretty quick. Turns out they live in Buford, but come up this way often to ride both on & off road. One guy was laughing about my milk crate, and even offered me a tank bag if I’d get rid of it, but it was a magnetic bag and I have a plastic tank… then we all laughed about the 70cc scooter with the NOS canister.

There was a chance of rain, and I’d brought my rain suit… and it turned out to be needed. A few drops were enough to get the staff moving their bikes inside; some of the sporties clustered under the awning provided by the dyno truck and some of the visitors boogied on out. The few drops turned into an impressive downpour, which was kind enough to wash a lot of the grime off my bike, and those of us who waited it out alternatively watched the owner’s video of a Colorado ride or stood under one of the large metal awnings and watched the rain wash our bikes.

The rain finally let up, so I put on my rain suit and headed home. It didn’t take long to find some more rain, although it looked as if I might get a break closer to town… and in fact, it stopped for a couple miles. But after that, it pretty much rained all the way home. My hands and feet were soaked, but the rain suit did its job well and kept the rest of me dry and comfortable.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008 6 comments


July came in like early April. 55°F this morning and very low humidity, something quite unusual for Planet Georgia in July. Usually, this time of year, people are considering turning on the car A/C during the morning commute. DD’s pal from Norway would have approved.

A more reliable indicator that summer has arrived: The Boy moved out a couple weeks ago. A few weeks ago, he showed us the place he and his friends were looking at: a double-wide with rotting siding (not well-hidden under fresh paint) and a missing central A/C unit. The place was locked, so I can only imagine what the roof & floors were like. So they ended up renting a trailer from Mrs. Fetched’s mom… they agreed to a bunch of stipulations about alcohol and parties (none), although I’m sure they’ll have some booze hidden away somewhere. Snippet is there (of course), along with one of the other band members and his cousin P.O.D.

Speaking of P.O.D., his commute to Canton is eating him alive — why he can’t find an apartment closer to work is beyond me, but he’s Big V’s son and I’ve long given up on trying to untangle what passes for logic on that side of the family. So he started nosing around to see if I’d “loan” him my Civic (which I bought from him so he could get a truck), but it picked this last week for the speedometer sensor to start acting up. Not thinking he’d take me up on it, I offered to loan him the Virago and he jumped on it. I didn’t think a crotch rocket pilot, even a former one (he sold it after a large speeding ticket some time back), would be interested in a large cruiser. But he figured he could save $30/week in gas alone, so maybe it’s not a big surprise.

I let him borrow it over the weekend to get acquainted with it, and he brought it back complaining of it missing and acting weird. I wasn’t in any shape on Sunday to deal with it, but I checked it out last night and it acted just like it had once before, a couple of years ago, and hadn’t done since. Using the strategy, “check the cheap stuff first,” we (P.O.D. helped) quickly stunk up the garage with spilled gasoline and found that the fuel filter was beyond dirty. Mrs. Fetched picked up a new one today while I was at work, and I got it in tonight. I haven’t refilled the gas tank yet, but I’m pretty sure that will fix the problem. I figure he’ll pick it up while I’m at work tomorrow.

The blackberries are already getting ripe — and I’ll definitely be out picking this weekend when it’s not raining. There’s a new stand, where the timber people cleared an ingress point, that looks nearly as big as the one in the pasture I raided last year. There’s a smaller stand in the front yard, and that’s getting picked first because I won’t have to walk as far. :-) I’d like to get 3 gallons total, which would keep us in jelly for a while. If The Boy and Snippet aren’t too lazy to do a little picking, they could get some free food.

In any case, I’m looking forward to a three-day weekend.

Friday, May 09, 2008 4 comments

One (or two) for the Road

A couple of cellphone shots to wrap up the week…

Besides the huckleberries, we have some higher blueberry bushes growing wild on the place. They run a couple weeks behind the huckleberries, for whatever reason. Last year, I was waiting for them to get ripe and then they… disappeared. I guess the birds were waiting too, and they got there first. I was bummed out, but hopeful that we’ll get some of them this year. Maybe I’ll get some cheese cloth or hang some tinfoil around the area to keep them out.

On the way home from work, I took a ride out a back road that I knew dead-ended at a river. I just wondered how far it went and what was out there. Looks like it might have been a bridge at one time.

Well, that’s the end of the road for the flower pix, at least for now. FAR Future episodes will be posted at least on the next two Mondays, and I should be able to make it three. I hope things will continue to work out that way.

Saturday, March 22, 2008 4 comments

Hi ho, Hi ho, it’s Home to Work I Go

Not many opportunities for rest at FAR Manor, especially on weekends.

The light fixture in Mrs. Fetched’s closet croaked last week, and she’s been on me ever since to change it. I’d put it on my to-do list, and planned to tackle it this weekend anyway. Naturally, the standard ceramic closet socket is unobtanium these days, so we ended up with one of those two-bulb sockets with the square glass dinner-plate diffuser. I put that up in the last hour, and all is well in the closet once again.

But, of course, that’s only the beginning. Mrs. Fetched has assigned to me: replacing a toilet seat (sorry, wrong size); taking out some saplings out front (which ones?); inspecting the roof in the back near a big oak tree (limbs coming off), and general clean up the house stuff to absorb any free time I manage to end up with. I suppose I could go pick up all the limbs blown off trees in last week’s wind storms, to provide enough wood for the week.

I need to: drain a little oil out of the Virago (not sure how I overfilled it); change the oil in the Suzuki; take the Suzuki out to scrub in the new tire ← very important, you understand!; work on FAR Future (I’m 2/3 done with the next+1 episode and have a pretty good idea for next+2, next one’s pretty much done).

Off to early lunch. Mrs. Fetched is hungry & cranky.

Sunday, March 16, 2008 5 comments

Spinning Wrenches, Spinning Air Columns

Ah, spring… when a young man’s fancy turns to— HOLY $#!+A TORNADO!!!!

The first Big One of spring paid a visit to downtown Atlanta, and took in many of the tourist sites: the Georgia Dome, Phillips Arena (interrupting a Hawks game in overtime), the CNN Center, and many many more. The usual Saturday cartoon fest was thrown aside for a wall-to-wall news orgy of the Disaster On Our Doorstep (DOOD!).

But more storms were on their way for the afternoon, and we had stuff to do, so we turned off the TV and got to it. The Boy miraculously showed up in the morning when he said he would, which took the pressure off me to once again throw my plans in the dumpster and tend to the chicken houses (wasn’t gonna happen anyway). Big V’s husband came by with his trailer; we rolled the red Civic (which has stopped shifting) onto it and took it to the mechanic. From there, I went on to the motorcycle shop and their “sidewalk sale,” shopping list in hand and rear wheels from both motorcycles in the trunk. As I’d hoped, heated gloves were in the discount bin, so I found a pair that fit me and scratched that one off my list. Then it was off to the parts counter for some serious denting of the checking account (recently augmented by the addition of a bonus check). I came home with:

- a cargo rack for the Suzuki (a miracle: they had it in stock!)
- heated gloves
- brake pads for the Virago
- the Virago rear wheel, with fresh rubber
- fresh oil for both bikes, filter for the Virago
- chain lube
- cable lube (plus a lube tool)

Stuff I’ll be picking up later in the week:

- Suzuki rear tire, with fresh rubber
- Acerbis 4.25gal tank for the Suzuki
- garage stand

I got home just in front of the rain, and found the all-day news-orgy had shifted from the past to the immediate future: a pair of strong storms were heading in from Alabama, killed some people in Polk County (terrible news there), and continued almost due east at 50mph (those spring storms move FAST) in single file. The weather dudes were waxing poetic over their new technology, that allows them to build 3D models of storms and display them in different ways, and to zoom in on the immediate area and show roads and locations that were in the path of the storms. This particular storm was highly radar-genic, so they were having all sorts of fun showing us just about everything they could do. As it turned out, the really bad parts of the storms (F2 tornadoes, 2" hail, 70mph winds) went 10 miles south of us. After things died down a bit, I headed to the garage to work on the bikes.

I got the wheel back on the Virago, with only the usual difficulty plus a brain-fart (where’s the spacer? duh, I left it on the axle so I wouldn’t lose it!), then put the cargo rack on the Zook while draining old oil out of the Virago. I was about to tackle the brake pads, when Mrs. Fetched asked if I was interested in food. Being 6pm (already?), I realized I was ready to eat. Of course, Mrs. Fetched rarely delivers the whole story: we had to stop at a couple of places to pay bills. The second place was Home Depot, and we picked up a couple minor things while we were there — including a new light fixture for her closet. We ate (at Up the Creek) and then got to Office Max, five minutes before closing, to pick up card stock for Daughter Dearest’s graduation invitations.

After church, I’ll finish up the Virago brakes and wire in the heated gloves, then perhaps I’ll take a (ahem) short ride! The Boy came in with Snippet a few minutes ago, “disappointed” that he missed his shot at the chicken houses, but willing to come to church. Time to jump in the shower and get ready…

Sunday, September 30, 2007 8 comments

You Meet the Nicest People on a Suzuki

Location: out front
Music: BassDrive

One of the more interesting aspects of my new ride is that people tend to come over and talk to me. A lot. I would see that happen from time to time on the Virago, but I think the unconventional-looking bike tends to get people curious. I get people coming up and talking to me all the time when I’m stopped somewhere.

Indeed, the first day I had the bike, I was gassing up and a cop stopped by to check it out, followed by a guy with a similar bike in different trim (dual-sport instead of supermoto). The first week I had it at work, I amused myself by watching out the window at co-workers inspecting it — you could almost see the “WTF?” thought balloons. At the gas station (again), a guy cheerfully talked about wanting to sell his Yamaha since he whacked a tree at 40mph and broke his hip (I suspect that story probably involved alcohol or other mind-altering substances, but he didn’t get into details). He also talked about riding in Baja, which sounded like a real blast but is a bit far to go for a ride IMO.

On a dirt road last weekend, a kid on a four-wheeler caught me at a stop sign and chattered about his friend who got a similar bike. Then yesterday, as I pulled into Home Depot (for a paint scraper), a guy on a decked-out Volusia came in from the other direction and we ended up sharing a sheltered spot where a third motorcycle was already parked. He came walking over to check out the DRZ and started talking about rides and all the other stuff we tend to talk about with our fellows. He’s from a family of riders; his dad rode cross-country a couple years ago and his mom sold him the Volusia because (at age 70) she considers herself too old to ride.

So if you want to meet people, this is definitely one way to do it: get an odd-looking motorcycle and make occasional stops.

Friday, August 24, 2007 5 comments

Stuck at the Office

Tree down behind the officeAbout 45 minutes ago, the weather was downright hostile… let alone to a motorcyclist. I figure the wind was gusting past 40mph; the rain was nearly horizontal and a pine tree went down out back of the office. Since the office has a largish set of eaves out back, I stepped out and got a little video of the rain gushing out of the downspouts — quite impressive, I’ll put it on archive.org later.

The rain has let up quite a bit as I type, but hasn’t stopped completely. I’m also hearing thunder, and it’s not the Harley variety. Mrs. Fetched said stay put as long as necessary, and eat on the way home if needed (and I probably will at this point). At least I brought the rain suit.

Well, I guess I’ll work a little more.

UPDATE: I was putting on my rain suit when a co-worker came by, said he goes my way, and offered me a ride if Mrs. Fetched could pick me up at the half-way point. She was amenable, so we did. We went by and picked up the bike and the work computer (in case I want to try to catch up/get ahead this weekend).

Sunday, August 19, 2007 5 comments

Home is Where the Hurt Is

I have returned, after just over 500 miles on a variety of roads. This is the longest motorcycle trip I’ve ever taken.

Friday morning had me waking up earlier than I expected, amazingly not with a chicken house call. I confiscated a small backpack The Boy had once used for a bookbag — Daughter Dearest offered me hers, but it had a blown-out zipper — and stuffed it with a weekend’s worth of clothes, important stuff from the bathroom (toothbrush, meds, shaver, deodorant), pen & paper, and the iPod. After a little breakfast, I suited up, loaded the backpack on my shoulders, and buzzed away.

Since the summer place is about 4 hours away, and I had all day to get there, I decided to do things a little differently: take my time, stop when and where I felt like it, and (especially since I was on a motorcycle) avoid freeways as much as possible. So at mile 63-ish, I stopped at Tallulah Gorge and got this picture. 20 miles later, I (for the first time) crossed a state line on a motorcycle and rolled on into North Carolina. By this time, the backpack was starting to weigh on my shoulders, and the hard seat was wearing on my butt… but there wasn’t much I could do about it.

I had to stop in Sylva for lunch and gas, but with WCU opening up and the fall quarter starting Monday, things were a little crowded. I planned to eat in a local restaurant in town, but the person in front of me pulled into the last parking spot on the street. Rats! I continued on through the thick traffic, finding a Burger King that had a veggie burger waiting for me. The guy behind me in line (and it was fairly long) had rode in on a scooter, so we got to talking and eventually sat together. He was local, and maybe a little “tetched” as they used to say, but we had a good time — I took my time to give my butt and shoulders a break — and then I moved on. (It was in Sylva that I also learned that in stop&go traffic, the DRZ gives no warning at all when it’s time to go on reserve.)

I made my first traveling misstep (there’s a name for a bluegrass band… the Traveling Missteps) by going to US74 instead of staying on US23. This cost me an extra 10 miles or so of I-40… but with the speed limit posted at 60, it wasn’t nearly as scary as I expected (I didn’t have to go more than 75, and the bike seemed quite happy to wail along at 3/4 of its maximum RPM). I jumped off at the first exit that gave me a "to US70" sign. US70 east of Asheville is 5 lanes (4 + left turn lane) and the interstate parallels it for a good long while. I made my second misstep looking for Old US70, which Google Maps shows as winding over Black Mountain. After a couple of attempts, I gave up and got back on I-40. Fortunately, it was only a few miles to the Old Fort exit, and I said good-bye to I-40 for good. US70 west to US221 north, and one more gas stop 9 miles from my destination, and I was there just after 4pm.

The weekend was mostly relaxing — even the parts helping Wicked Stepfather with new cabinets for the basement (some assembly required). We went to a local store/BBQ joint for lunch, and wound up with the table right next to the bluegrass band when they got going. I enjoy most live music — even The Boy’s stuff — if there’s no lyrics. These guys had a stack of CDs for sale, but I’ve forgotten their name.

Water Rock Knob overlook, on the Blue Ridge Parkway, looking eastFor the trip home, I decided to give the Blue Ridge Parkway a try. It crosses US221 a few miles south of the summer place; I figured if there were too many slowpokes on the way, I could jump off at US70 and go back the way I came. However, the first half hour or so I was the only southbound traffic I ever saw. The posted speed limit is 45, and the road is curvy enough to enforce it without a lot of help from the parkway police, so I settled into a rhythm (and tried to ignore the backpack and seat). Although the scenic route, plus going past the exit I should have taken, cost me a fair amount of extra time, the ride was well worth it. If you have a motorcycle, you really should ride the parkway, no matter where you’re from. It’s just freeking beautiful. The highest elevations are south of Asheville, and climbs to 6000 feet. Once you get above 5000 feet, the wind gets chilly — even in the middle of August. I appreciated it even more once I got down to US441 and returned to the land of mid-90° weather. The foliage was subtly different in the higher elevations, probably more alpine.

Hot weather, hurting shoulders, hurting butt, all encouraged me to ride at speeds similar to those on I-40. I got home (empty house), called Mom, put on shorts, and took an Advil. Just think, I get to jump on the bike tomorrow morning to ride to work. Fortunately, sans backpack.

Thursday, August 16, 2007 6 comments

The Solo, 3-Day, No Guilt Weekend

Over the years since moving to the free-range insane asylum, I have come to dread August. The heat is bad enough on its own, but it stresses the chicken houses because everything has to be running — fans and foggers — just to keep the birds alive. Large electrical devices running in the same area as a high-pressure water spray actually works (it has to), but an undetected crack in a PVC pipe or wiring insulation is going to soon be detected under those conditions. And given the situation, repairs can’t wait for a convenient time… it has to be dealt with now. Even when everything is working properly, Mrs. Fetched is constantly over there to raise or lower curtains and open/close doors (ventilation vs. insolation), start or stop the fogger lines… always something.

Add in the usual things that go wrong (and Murphy is the god of chicken houses), and August adds up to one miserable month. I can count on arriving home to find there’s some problem that must be addressed, almost before I can get my helmet and jacket off. For example, this week the downpipe fell off a feed hopper and dumped four tons of feed that had to be scooped or shoveled up.

So it’s not surprising that the best part of August is the one weekend that we escape the manor. Mom has a summer cottage in the North Carolina mountains; they spend the entire month there and we generally come up for a weekend to visit. It’s a much-appreciated break, especially since it’s often 15 degrees cooler there than here. But when Mrs. Fetched’s mom hosed her knee last week, Mrs. Fetched lost her substitute chicken rancher. She bailed out, then Daughter Dearest bailed out (“I need to stay and help Mom”). I’d already taken Friday off as a floating holiday, and I don’t get to see my relatives very often.

As if I needed any further excuse, the phone rang at about 6 a.m. this morning. When the phone rings at FAR Manor before 8, I immediately know: 1) It’s one of Mrs. Fetched’s relatives; 2) It’s not good news; 3) I’m going to be involved somehow. This morning, it was Big V on the line. P.O.D., her son and Splat’s older brother, got busted for 90 in a 50 zone while passing a car with great enthusiasm on his new GSX-R 600. As I’m the only other person in the family with a motorcycle endorsement, I get to bring the bike home while Big V is getting him out of the clink.

The bike was already on the tow truck when we got there, but when Big V gave a name and address, they knew we were the right people and rolled it back off (but she still got to pay the $100 tow bill). So on the 30 miles or so home, I learned why people ride those bikes so fast: your hips and back start hurting, and you have to ride fast just to where you’re going and get OFF the damn thing.

So I’m definitely looking forward to getting out of here for a few days. But now that I’m going by myself, I can ride my own motorcycle. It’s not nearly as uncomfortable as a crotch rocket.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007 5 comments

Stuff that works, Stuff that doesn’t

I’m typing away with the new MacBook battery. It was sitting on the table when I came home from the yard sale on Saturday (and I guess I was so excited I forgot to mention it). I pretty much knew what to expect inside: the battery and instructions for shipping the old one back. The good thing about that it’s all but completely pre-arranged: all you have to do is tape the box shut and call DHL to come pick it up. The other side of that particular coin: Apple will zap you for the cost of the battery if you don’t send it back, probably to keep people from claiming the battery is rotten to get a free extra battery. So unless DHL couldn’t find our office, and I think they bring deliveries from time to time, that’s taken care of.

Less welcome news: the A/C in the Civic lasted all of three days, crapping out on Friday afternoon on the way home from work. Naturally, it croaked in the three miles of stop&go traffic I have to deal with on Fridays (and I guess I was so bummed I forgot to mention it here). Oh well, it was good while it lasted and even mid-90s weather isn’t too bad on a motorcycle (as long as you’re moving).

Yesterday, I finally resolved the plate (or “tag” as they say on this planet) issue for the new motorcycle. The shop sent the tax receipt, and I’m supposed to pick up the tag. I was under the impression that I would get it in the mail. Mrs. Fetched says she’ll handle that today while I’m at work — there’s a pretty good chance she’ll get busy & forget, but right now I have both bikes in the garage and it’s a little tight, and the inconvenience might prompt her to make an extra effort. ;-) So I’m on the Virago at least one more day.

Jumping on the Virago after riding a much lighter and taller bike for a month is a good way to get a fresh look at it. The seat is much more cushy, the engine much stronger (with nearly three times the displacement, that’s no surprise), and the seating position is completely different. Of course, it still takes corners at speeds you wouldn’t dare with most other cruisers.

And with that, I need to start it and get rolling to work. IT has started monitoring web usage at work (naturally at a time when most of my projects are in a lull), so I’ll be coming in at odd morning & evening hours. One more stop to see if Nancy has posted anything this morning…


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