Monday, June 29, 2015

Everything Old Is New Again

You've heard that motto before, I'm sure. This weekend, we got to enjoy the reality of it. CoolGuy and I went to a motorcycle show this weekend called BornFree, for people who like to build old choppers.

It was in SoCal this year, just about fours hours from Las Vegas. is summer. That is not so bad  when you're close to the ocean, but it means that a motorcycle ride there from our house would have to start early in the morning to avoid the deathly heat that rises here by 10:30 A.M. CoolGuy started out about 6:00 A.M. and I followed in the truck shortly after. (My knee is still not too happy, and the stress of riding the bike wouldn't be a good choice yet.)

The show was in Silverado Canyon, which is part of the Inland Empire part of greater Los Angeles. It isn't by the ocean, but it is on the west side of the mountains that divide the desert from the coast, so the high at the park/lake where the show was held was only 95, and at night the temperature slid all the way down to 73. It was quite lovely! It was wild and mountainous, and definitely not my usual visualization of Orange County.

 The show was packed with people and motorcycles--choppers, stock machines, and works-of-art masquerading as motorcycles. It was rather like a trip back in time, actually. When CoolGuy started riding a Harley when he was a teen, if you wanted a chopper, you had to build it yourself. There was a growing group of riders who had the skills, and businesses that would help you with processes that required more technology than a home garage (chrome application, for example). For the last decade or so, buying and riding a Harley has become quite common place, with most people just riding the bike they drove out of the showroom. It is quite different from the Do-it-Yourself world that I was introduced to over forty years ago when I partnered up with CoolGuy. But, now, the BornFree dudes bring together a burgeoning new population of young men and women (and a few of us geezers) that have a passion for using the wrench and creating their own ride.

It was fun to watch CoolGuy go around and admire all the bikes and, especially the young people who were riding them. He's driving a motorcycle that has a 46 year old engine, and people admired his handiwork, and understood why he's willing to do the work to keep it on the road. I was fascinated by the plethora of my favorite engine: the Panhead! There were so many other kinds, too. It harked me back to the very first motorcycle event I attended in Southern California. Our good friends took our three little ones for overnight, and we drove out into a canyon filled with California live oak trees and golden grass. All I packed was my toothbrush and a clean shirt. We had our sleeping bag strapped on the front of the 1950 Panhead chopper, and joined some friends who were also headed out there. The next day, we drove a few miles south to Tecate, Mexico, and ate lunch. I was conscious this weekend of how long ago that was, and how vividly different it is for an old granny to go to a motorcycle party. I packed not much more than a clean shirt and underwear, but the kit included pills, fiber, sunscreen and chapstick. Plus, we used member points and stayed in a motel! That warm bathtub was sure nice after a day of hiking around on the grass in the sun and dust, not to mention CoolGuy's 300 mile ride.

 It was "official" enough to require an entrance fee, and an armband. 

 If you look closely, you'll see that my bangs are wet with sweat--it was weirdly humid.

 Here is my favorite engine style: the Panhead--made from 1948 -1965.
We rode on a chopper with this type of motor for several years.

 This style--Knucklehead--made from 1936--1947
CoolGuy had one of these in high school, and when we first got married.

 There were lots of cool old things there, including CoolGuy, and his motorcycle,
1969 Shovelhead---made from 1966--1984.

 This is a Flat-head--these are from the 1930's and '40's, too. They made several models of these at the same time they were making the Knuckleheads and the Panheads.

 See the raccoon face from driving in the sun for hours?

Leaving the hotel--it was  72 degrees---verrry nice!! Right now, after dark, in our back yard, it's 108. 

 This was a photo of me at the first motorcycle campout-festival-party I attended in southern Cali. It was quite a few years ago...

We didn't get wristbands, but we did have to sign in and get a sticker to show that we and our motorcycle were authorized to be there.

 Same terrain as this weekend: live oak trees, rock-covered hills, and golden grass.

Here we are in the little cafe in Tecate, Mexico.
It was quite a pleasant trip then, as was this one.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Can't Have Too Much Fun

We had our annual Grandma Camp a week ago. Or, I should say, "Grandpa & Grandma" camp...He is essential! The four grandchildren spent the five days with us in a non-stop carousel of fun, fun, fun. I realized when it was finished, that next year, I totally need to train for this event!

We visited a variety of museums, aquariums, Vegas fun places, and of course---SWIMMING!! Seriously, without the Grandpa, the Grandma would possibly have collapsed with exhaustion. We'd trade off on activities. I took the kids to the Shark Reef for our annual "floating heads" photograph (and also to see the cool sharks). Then, after lunch, he went out and supervised (from the pool) the afternoon swim. I took them to the Tournament of Kings; he took everyone out to the desert to star-watch.

We watched movies, ate root beer floats, viewed a series of pictures of their parents as children, laughed at silly YouTube videos and just hung out. Meals were tons of fun--we haven't had a table-full for a long time! There were even a few quarrels, and a couple of annoying brother/sister moments--in other words---real life.

But mostly, we just enjoyed being together and having a little fun, and talking and laughing. It ended so soon that I was petitioned for a full seven days next summer. (It's always better to leave them wanting more, than to have homesick little people, crying for mom.)

 We stopped off in St. George at a wildlife museum there and admired large animals up close.

This girl jumped into the "little pool" to dive for the plastic rings about one thousand times, according to Grandpa's count. He was the ring tosser. 

 There was a lot of action... under the water....

...and above the water.

 The pool is the place where everyone can spend unlimited amounts of time. Since the temperature reached 110 degrees every day of GC, the pool is a wonderful place!

 This is the soap carving activity that followed Grandpa's knife safety class. It was scheduled to help our Cub Scout to pass off some requirements. But, everyone had a pretty awesome time. 

Grandpa carefully supervised the knives; Grandma wielded the camera and stayed far, far away from the knives...let me show you my collection of finger scars, sometime.

 See that name tag? Well, this fellow made them for us to wear, so that, no matter what name poor addled Grandma called someone, they could answer to it. Somehow, when I get the little kids around, the old brain has some trouble with putting a current name to the current person. My own mother used to do this: she'd start with her sisters' names, and then go down the list of all my sisters. It's a good laugh for the grandchildren when I do it, using their aunts' and uncles' names.

We cheered for Hungary this time! It's such a fun show!

Our shark friends were all still there. And the guy who helps out with the photos remembered us from last year! The floating heads family!

 One year, we discovered that, if you were wearing a certain color of green shirt, then all you would see is a floating head! So, we went right out and bought ourselves a set of green shirts!

Yes, there are some fun places for children in Las Vegas.
 And the most fun place of all is GRANDMA CAMP!!
 Looking forward to 2016!!

Monday, June 22, 2015

Hot Time in the Hot Town

At 7:45 A.M. or so, our electricity went out on Sunday. I woke up at 8:00 because there was a weird beeping sound that was NOT my alarm. I looked at my clock radio to see what time it was, and there was nothing displayed. Uh, oh. I jumped up and looked around the house to find the irritating beep and found it on the house alarm keypad. It was telling me that the door ring tones weren't working. Yup...nothing was working if it needed electricity. This is bad.

At the time, it was only 90 degrees outside. But, I knew that the whole week the temperatures had been topping out at 110 degrees and today wouldn't be any different. Immediately, I went to my computer---doh! So, I got the iPad. WiFi. But....CoolGuy is on it. He set up a little personal hotspot on my phone so that I can have WiFi on the iPad when I'm not at home or somewhere else with it. We got rid of the 3G connection to save money; plus I rarely use the iPad where there isn't a connection for me.

Well, the power company website was telling me that I was part of power outage with nearly 3000 other lucky customers and we might have it back on by 12:30. Eek!! That was four hours away! Well, I decided to just get ready and go to church early. So, I did everything I could that didn't need electricity (gas water heater, I love you...) and ate my cereal, and put my hair up in a French twist. Luckily, I'd just had my bangs trimmed, so they look okay without the curling iron. I fluffed them up a bit and hair-sprayed them in place.

It really wasn't too bad in our house. We have a large tree in our back yard that shades the house really well, and the garage takes up most of the front. So, as long as one stayed out of the garage, the rest of the house stayed quite cool. By 10:00 A.M. it was up to 100 already, according to the thermometer on the patio. So, I decided I'd just leave for church and hang out there until I needed to start the prelude music at 10:45. CoolGuy got back from his morning motorcycle ride just as I was leaving, and told me there were no traffic lights in the intersections near our house, either. Hmmm...

I took the circuitous route to the church, and sure enough, the markets and gas stations in a little business development near us were all closed, too. No one parked at McDonald's! Weird....So, when I arrived at the church (which is between our house and these stores) I was delighted to find that the building DID have power. Apparently the circuits that were affected hopscotched around the neighborhood. As the congregation arrived, we all asked, "Do you have electricity?" before we even said hello. About half did and half didn't. My neighbor across the street did---we didn't! Weird...

So, we had our church meetings, and midway through, the bishop announced that the power company was now predicting it might take until 5:00 P.M. to get the mess fixed, so the church would stay open and available for anyone who might need a cool place to be. And, we should contact our neighbors who might be overheated at their houses to, please, come here and we'd have a few rooms available to just hang out.

This is one of the Sundays when having a three-hour meeting block paid off! We finished up about 2:00 P.M. and I decided to go home and see how CoolGuy was faring. Was he still "cool?" I figured he'd been floating in the pool. That was my plan! But, when I walked into the house, it was still remarkably cool-ish. Seriously...I'm sure that four more hours of no AC would have put an end to that, but as I was making myself a peanut butter sandwich aound 2:45, I heard a little click, and a hum, and the refrigerator purred to life right behind me. Then, about 10 minutes later, the air conditioner kicked in and started blowing gently from the vent above my head. Ahhhh....modern life! It's not appreciated until you lose it. (Actually, I appreciate it all the time. I doubt I'd have been hardy enough to live here in the Mojave before they'd created a way to cool off houses.)

Turns out a driver had either fallen asleep, or was impaired, and had driven (apparently at quite a high speed) into a big old power pole and broke it right off! Took out the fence in the front yard of the people's house, too. Thanks, dude! But we all survived, and I hope it doesn't happen again this year.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Father's Day...rerun

I love this blog that I made last year about Father's Day, and it is still true, so I'm just republishing it for 2015.

Fathers Are So Special

I've enjoyed watching the Father of this family as he has been repeatedly interrupted this afternoon from his motorcycle wrenching by phone calls from his children. Thanks kids!

I read from some commentator that Father's Day is an "awkward" holiday, celebrated inconsistently by people from 1910 until, finally in 1972, it was designated an official holiday in a bill signed by Pres. Nixon. I know that it doesn't always get the attention that Mother's Day does, but perhaps that's appropriate since a lot of fathers are somewhat "aw shucks" about being the center of attention. I also know that there are plenty of fathers that are not there in the life of their offspring, so that figures in, too.

I was a lucky one. My dad was there and was a fine dad; surely deserving of extra attention at least one day each year. He was a pretty good dad, too, considering that he had to make it up as he went along. He didn't have the example of his father who died when my dad was only eight. He lost his grandfather the next day after that, too. So, he was taken in by a kind relative and was pretty much a grown-up from then on. However, even though he had never experienced the love and attention and advice and unconditional love from a dad, he did a pretty good job of giving that to us, his children. I credit my mom with teaching him how to be a loving person. She said once to me that he was pretty "hard" when they first got married, and that she had to show him that it was okay to be softer. He was a devoted father, and we all knew how much he loved us. He was tough sometimes, but we also knew that he still loved us anyway.

Here he is with the first two kids,
the beginning of the six daughters and two sons.
He's wearing the "uniform" I remember him for---irrigation boots and a straw hat.
We're up to six of us here. Just two more to go.
Note the "farmer's tan"---duh, why do you think it's called that?

Our one and only overnight vacation.
We got our tall genes from our dad.
Baby number eight was on the way, that's why
 my mom is taking the photo and not in it.
He loved to raise beautiful horses.
This particular one was also extremely patient
 and long-suffering.
That is baby number eight squeezed in there on his lap. 
This is grandchild number one. It was pretty awesome for him to be a grandfather. The saddest thing is that he didn't get to enjoy that role very long, here on earth. We'd only delivered the first 18 while he was still living. We ended up with 33 altogether finally. But, he met those other ones in heaven before we did.
Dad #2
The second dad we honor today, is CoolGuy, the father of our family. He wasn't all that sure he was ready to be "dad" when we first married. But once we decided, he was awesome! He was ahead of his time in the "hands-on" category. He was never reluctant to change diapers, or wipe up barf, or do dishes, or laundry, or cook, or clean. That's why when friends would laugh that one reason they gave birth in the hospital was to have a little vacation, I'd just smile and say that CoolGuy gave me one at home. He would take off work and do everything for the first three or four days, just so I'd stay down and rest. He knew he'd have to enforce it. But, it was also really nice to have everyone in the same place and not be splitting time between the hospital and home. Here are some cool fatherhood shots across the years.
Middle School graduation, 1992?

The boys altogether in 1984.

Hiking in the canyon by the beach 1994ish.

Going to work, or coming home from work--1993?
He's loving Grandpa Time, too.
Pool time

Looking at the ocean

Card sharks
More pool time--Night Swimming!

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