Boho on a Bike

By neznámý (scan, reklamní leták) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

I bought a motorcycle helmet.  I’m not sure I’ve ever managed to spend $200 so quickly.  But I wanted full face protection from the wind, not to mention that I like my jaw just the way it is.  Really, a Vespa’s more my style than the big old bike we’ll-call-him-Logan recently acquired.  Don’t get me wrong, the bike’s super cool.  But I’ve never been a speed demon, so if I’m ever at the wheel of something with two wheels and a motor, it’ll be a scooter…

I would love to see more people (calling all bohos!) – including those who don’t fit the black leather image of motorcycles – utilize bikes (and scooters) for everyday transport.  With less cars on the road, bikes would be safer.  The demand for fuel would drop and with it pollution, not to mention money spent on transport.

The first time I rode on a motorcycle, Logan picked me up at the train station in Philly on his Yamaha 250.  The bike – for all I ended up loving it – was small, and my helmet was smaller.  We jumped on the highway within minutes and the wind tucked under the face plate and smacked me hard enough that I had trouble breathing.  Not to mention that we were flying down a highway populated by crazy city drivers, my knees scant feet from their fenders.  I chanted affirmations in my head, and we did make it through alive and well, except for the massive pressure headache I had from the ill-fitting helmet.  Thus my willingness to sacrifice income for one that felt just right.

There’s a store in Bar Harbor, Maine called Jekyl & Hyde: One side is full of bright colors, jingly hip scarves, and flowing skirts; the other is knives and black leather.  My sister has commented that this store is a metaphor for my relationship: me the crunchy boho, Logan the biker in black.  That being said, motorcycles are a pretty awesome boho mode of transport, since they’re easy on gas and get you out into your environment.

The latter was what really won me over: Once we got off the highway, I could feel the moisture rising off a nearby stream, smell the pine needles and the farm fields.  There’s no real separation between you on the bike and the family on the sidewalk or the horses in the field or the deer by the side of the road.  Cars put boundaries between us and the rest of the world.  On a bike, it’s impossible to pretend those exist.

I think we’ve gotten comfortable with our boundaries, and lots of us are a little scared to be out there without doors and windows.  That takes courage…  It turns out you do have to be pretty badass to ride a bike, after all.

(Just rediscovered this draft.  It’s a little out of date, but what the heck.)

View from Sun Salutations

I have discovered that the back deck is an excellent place to do yoga.  Thank you, Spring!  As I was finishing, my cat joined me in savasana.

A Knight in Moderation

Several years ago, my sister asked me what I wanted for Christmas.  It was summer – too early for the question – and we were walking down a sunlit street.  “A knight in shining armor,” I said.

Obviously, I wasn’t serious.  As I remember it, I wasn’t even keeping my eye out for romance at the time.  I just thought I was being cute.

Six months later, I unwrapped the lad in the photo.  I loved him, of course:  I’ve always had a thing for miniatures (in moderation), and this fellow is so steadfast.  He’s sits on my windowsill with Ganesh and Happy Buddha, and together they are part of my home-in-a-pocket kit whenever I travel.

Thank goodness, though, that he stays faithfully on that windowsill, and doesn’t butt in too much.  Knights In Shining Armor can save the day, but they can also have some exhaustingly high expectations of themselves and of you.  As my sister said when I unwrapped him, it’s much better to carry your own Knight with you, so you don’t have to go looking for him in other people.

A Hunt for an Imperfect Pumpkin

My boyfriend has no Halloween spirit at all, but proved what a good sport he is by accompanying me to the local pumpkin fest here in the Big City. In addition to the weekly farmers market (yum!), there were hay bales and pumpkins galore – and a petting zoo! Maybe an adult shouldn’t get quite so excited about a few goats and chickens, but when a country girl’s been in the city for as long as I have, seeing these critters is quite a treat.

I always look for the tall skinny pumpkins, the warty ones, and the just plain misshapen gourds. But lo and behold, the farmers had only brought pretty pumpkins to the city! Each and every one was round as a basketball with unblemished orange flesh: the type of pumpkins they use on sitcoms.

I wonder if oranges come in as many shapes in Florida as pumpkins do in rural New England? I’m thinking that judging gourds and fruits and vegetables by how perfectly shaped they are is a bit nonsensical…especially since those big bizarrely-shaped heirloom beefsteaks I had earlier this summer were absolutely delicious…

Anyway, stuck with a plethora of perfect pumpkins, I did my best and dug up one with a few bumps and an extra-long stem – and my guy even helped me carry it home.

Fair Trade Koko

A few years ago, I made friends with a Rhode Island Red named Koko. I had an ailing horse, and Koko was a resident at the same barn as my mare. Koko was a particularly well-socialized hen, and lonely because her brood-mates had all been carried off by a fox. I would sit in the door to my horse’s stall for hours, and Koko would take dust baths right next to me, let me pet her, and once brazenly climbed up my mother’s leg to request a sweet potato chip.

I’m not a vegetarian, but I lost my taste for conventional chicken and eggs. I know some of the stories about the meat industry are exaggerations (e.g. the explanation for Kentucky Fried Chicken’s name change to KFC). But I’ve seen first-hand that laying hens live out their lives in tiny, overcrowded cages – in effect treated as egg-production machines. Thinking of Koko – that sweet, social, quirky little bird – locked into a cage all her life makes my stomach turn.

I have to really talk myself into choosing the more expensive fair trade chocolate over the cheaper standard stuff. But all I have to do is think of my avian friend, and it comes naturally to choose the veggie dish over the chicken parm or the $4.50 free-range eggs over the $2.00 conventional. I guess that’s what comes of making it personal! (Maybe next I should visit a cocoa plantation…)

Trifles of Terrors…or is it Truffles?

My three favorite holidays are inextricably linked to chocolate: Easter (chocolate and chicks), Christmas (chocolate and pressies) and Halloween (chocolate and costumes). While for many adults, these holidays fade into commercialism and extra errands, I say they’re all the more valuable for us grown-ups.

A friend recently noted that few folks dress up as what they’re really afraid of, instead choosing ‘fake’ scary things like ghosts and vampires. And why not? What a relief to fear some physical or supernatural critter, instead of being anxious over your job or your blood pressure! And conversely, how delicious to dress up as something irreverent, daring, or goofy – rather than the earnest or trendy clothes we usually don. Not to mention that indulging in a night of fear or awe of the spirit world may be a necessary tonic for (what for many of us is) a blase daily routine. As the Bard put it in All’s Well that Ends Well:

They say miracles are past, and we have our philosophical persons to make modern and familiar things supernatural and causeless. Hence it is that we make trifles of terrors, ensconcing ourselves into seeming knowledge when we should submit ourselves to an unknown fear.

So this Halloween (or Samhain, if you prefer) let’s celebrate! And not just as an excuse to consume serotonin inducers.

Boa Pose

Yesterday was nice and warm, so my boyfriend – we’ll call him Logan – took his boa constrictor for a walk up the street. His daughter was visiting, and took her chestnut-colored Pomeranian along for the walk. Folks were hanging out on their stoops and on sidewalks, and the double-takes were priceless.

The boa was happy to be out, looking around, sensing the air with her tongue, reaching forward and up toward the light in what Logan calls ‘stargazing.’ For the yogis our there, you might say she was practicing ‘cobra pose.’ But as intriguing as her head movements were, I was just as impressed by her tale: all the while she was used it in an almost prehensile manner to hold herself steady. She’d curl it against Logan’s back, then sweep down and find his belt loop, and take ahold of that. She continuously sought steadiness with her tale while stretching out and up with her head and neck – just as in yoga we try to be as present in our feet as in our head, and as grounded as we are powerful.

Porridge, my Ugly Duckling

On February 1, 2005, I arrived in Ireland with a work permit in hand and a single connection who was gracious enough to meet me in Galway city and show me around. Soon I was situated in a house ten minute’s walk from the City Centre, my connection went home to Limerick, and I set about trying to find a job. But first, I must have breakfast!

I had bought a package of Flahavan’s oats, eager to ‘do as the Romans do’ – plus, I knew porridge is nourishing and hot, and my housemates seemed to think nothing of going a few days without heating oil. Alas, when I heated up the flaked oats and water as the package directed, I created a bland sort of paste. Unappealing as it was, I choked down about two thirds of the bowl.

Next day, I approached breakfast much less eagerly. But my housemate, a student at NUI Galway, opened up her cupboard and recommended I stir in some cinnamon, honey, and sunflower seeds; that made all the difference.

These days, I eat porridge in all weather and for any meal, not just for the sustained energy it gives me, but also because it’s so adaptable. Some days, my porridge is practically a binding agent for fruits and nuts, and some days, it’s a breakfast sundae with yogurt and honey – which goes to show that even a homey sort of breakfast can be a creative endeavor.

(Click here for recipes and ideas.)

Dan Henley, Much Missed

Yesterday I learned that a friend of mine – who was not a particularly close friend, but was a dear one – passed away on May 6. Dan was a jeweler who vended at SCA events, Renaissance faires, and so on; he made these lovely delicate little creations with large, deft hands. He was a serene and good-humored presence in places that can often be rowdy and overwhelming, and although I usually only saw him once a year, he will be missed throughout the seasons.

What an odd thing it is, though, to learn online that someone has died. I want to look someone in the eye when I hear news like that. I want to hear someone’s voice.
At the same time – despite Dan’s own scarce presence on the web – a quick google turned up page after page of blog posts, comments, status updates…all in his memory. In a medium that is often casual and trite, Dan’s friends are poetic and heartfelt. These posts may only be words in the ether, but they are laments all the same.

Virtual Hugs

I’m on Facebook. I rarely log in (as you may have noticed, I haven’t been logging into Blogger very much lately either…) and have my privacy settings ramped up to the max, but it’s a good way to get back in touch with people.

I have one friend from college, who also rarely logs in, who I’ve never lost touch with. We don’t get to hang out much, since he’s off in a sunny, young L.A., but every two weeks or so we’ll talk on the phone, and he’ll get me laughing, because he’s just that kind of guy. I don’t like talking on the phone, but if you have to talk to someone on the phone, he’s your man. As it happens, we’ve both been on Facebook for over a year, and we’re not “friends” after all. LOL.

Every once in a while, one of my Facebook friends will send me an invite: “Be a Vampire Slayer!” or “Poke me back!” or somesuch. And while I did “Become a Fan of Barack Obama!” I generally don’t want an excuse to spend more time staring at a screen, so I hit “Ignore.”

What I do appreciate, though, is this: Really, when someone invites me to slay the undead, what they’re saying is, “Hi! I’m over here, and I haven’t forgotten about you!.” That is something sweet to hear.

I confess, though, that I would rather have tea or drinks or a dance with a friend once a year, than exchange virtual hugs and updates every week. So if I don’t write on your wall, it doesn’t mean I don’t want to hear from you.