What a year it was.

December 31, 2010

Almost the end. The end of 2010. I think I could venture to say that this has been the most intense, action packed, life changing year in my life so far. Things went on an accelerating pace, leaving no room for hesitation or questioning.

A year ago, on December 31st I had taken a flight for Nashville to go record some demos both for my solo project and for my band Leoffenders. That trip proved to me that the new songs I had been working on were worthy of being recorded. These were the first steps towards a new album for me, #5.

Then with February came the Olympic Games in Vancouver where I sang the anthem in front of 30 thousand people for the torch relay in Richmond and played a number of shows with Leoffenders on Olympic stages and venues. The energy was incredible.

March brought another trip to Nashville where I was to record 15 songs for my next album. I had been working on new material since September 08 and had been just using every spare minute since January to demo the songs and have everything ready for the sessions. On this trip nothing went as planned. The partner in the studio, the one who had signed me for this record deal I was so proud of, vanished after one day of recording taking with him microphones, gear, guitar amp, guitars and more. The musicians scattered immediately, “having been there, done that” they just hoped they were going to get paid for the previous day. That left Perry, the engineer and myself standing there with our jaws opened. But I got mad, rallied and after listening over to the 4 songs we had just recorded, I knew I had to get these songs done. So I picked up my boot straps, swore a bunch and found some money, called the players back and we got the bulk of this album recorded but not quite finished. It was somehow heroic. I was proud of accomplishing that, but now this project was up in the air like a big question mark like “now what?”.

But there was no time to worry, in April, a few days after my return from Nashville I got on another plane, this time to Montreal. The plan was to go record 4 songs for Leoffenders. I worked for 12 days and got the 4 songs tracked and ready to mix. I came back home on the 27th and decided it was time to move out of the house I had lived in for 8 years.

May was a blur of back breaking work, emptying, clearing, cleaning the house, selling my stuff on Craigslist as I had now just decided that I was going to not only move out of the house but I was going to take off on my bike. I sold pretty much everything I owned. These changes all came fast, so much so, I left a few people gawking in disbelief as I sped by, as the vision of what I wanted or I should say, what I needed was getting clearer and stronger by the minute.

June first I was out of the house, completely exhausted but newly liberated from all that had been keeping me chained up to that life: rent, bills, jobs, obligations, and the whole train that my life had become after 21 years in BC.

June 6th, I left. Heading south without any plan other than : Go South.

I traveled 16 000 miles on my 1983 Suzuki GS 750 ES. I felt life and strength come back to me. I saw the beauty and the greatness of America and it’s people. I saw deep in my soul, I learned much.

September, was a month of discovery, finding myself back in the world of humans in California as opposed to being a lone electron speeding through the universe. Music returned as a gigantic blessing. I was supported, blessed and guided.

Then I got the email that let me know I could, if I so wanted, go finish the album in Nashville. A week later I was on a flight to Tennessee. I worked 17 days straight to complete exhaustion but got all the guitars, all the harmonies, all the vocals done on the now 11 songs that will make the album. I was burned out but completely elated.

In October I took what was to be the last trip with the Suzuki. We went over to Death Valley and Las Vegas. I had some intensely magical moments with the full moon over the desert at night. Then the bike failed about 100 miles out of Los Angeles.

November I flew to Vancouver to take care of some stuff. It was wild to see the town. It made me see that I have been making the right decisions. It also allowed me to see some of my dearest friends in this world. I am thankful.

December saw the death of my Suzuki. The verdict came down. Broke my heart so deeply, it’s hard to conceive. But there was a rebirth with the arrival of Beowulf, my new bike.

So on the eve of 2011 there are no solid, concrete plans other than music and moto travel. Right now I can say that these days are some of, if not, the very best in my life.

For 2011

I hope I will rise and meet the challenges and lessons that life brings with grace.

I wish to be a positive force in the life of the people near me.

I dream of Montana, New York, Memphis, Austin, Phoenix and more…

I dream of singing as if the wind was my breath and the sun my inspiration.

I hope of getting closer to peace, light and joy and I wish the same to all of you.

Much, much love. Happy, wonderful, joyful, inspired new year.

Welcome 2011.

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December 29, 2010

From Wikipedia
Beowulf : is a hero who travels great distances to prove his strength at impossible odds against supernatural demons and beasts.

Beowulf is the name I gave to my new bike.

I cannot lie. I wasn’t sure at all. IO was barely taken off the road on that difficult ride on December 18th when Beowulf came to me. I was seriously heart broken over the loss of my first bike love. My nimble, gutsy, perfect white knight of a Suzuki. The mechanic’s words I could not ignore. It’s either going to blow it’s engine or catch on fire… so I had to retire it.

Yes, Beowulf is shiny, beautiful… In more conventional terms it’s a great bike, with great pedigree, track record, low mileage, awesome reputation and mystique and it was incredibly well cared for… and it is red.

But who cares about logic when heart & soul are hurting so deeply. Yes, I was moved to my core by the incredible gesture. I still am. I was excited, grateful, blown away but I was also worried. Nothing would ever be what IO was.

And I won’t lie, a couple of days ago I took the BMW for a short errand run and it just felt wrong. when I came back home from that ride I chatted honestly with Ozzy about the BMW, he used to have one so he knows them. We talked about the shifting, the rpms, the handling. He told me to rev it up more. So I pondered these ideas quietly.

The next day was going to be a one on one ride. Beowulf and me. I decided that we were going to go out. I had only ridden it back from Lancaster in the rain & storm then once more to the store and what stayed in my mind was how big and slow this bike is and how different it is from the Suzuki. So I took the saddlebags off. I got dressed and off we went. I thought : “Lets do what I would so gladly do with IO. Go out, go write the blog and then just ride. Anywhere.

In my ponderings this thought came to me : “this is a big bike made by big German men for big German men, not by small Japanese men…” I figured I should ride it like a big German man.

I backed it out of the garage, started it and let it warm up. I got on and drove out of the driveway. Once on the road I just rode the crap out of it. Revved it up, shifted as I figure a big tall German man would shift it and it responded. I was going to grab that bike by the scruff of its throttle and show it that I could and I would.

We headed East on the 210, Mount Baldy in the distance, is covered in snow. It’s just breathtakingly beautiful. The peak is covered, there are clouds nestled half way up the mountain and the clouds in the sky look like gigantic snow banks while around me the desert hills are greening. Winter grass they call it here.

Go. Show me what you can do.

I rode down to Rancho Cucamonga, had coffee, my first of the day so it was awesome. The barrista asked me what kind of bike I was riding. For the very first time I heard myself say :

“a BMW. A K75. ”

It was the first time I said it. What I had been saying was:

“ A Suzuki GS 750 ES…. but it’s in the shop… so I’m riding this …. ”

IO is gone. Gulp.

I drank my coffee and went out and got myself on the 10. We’re going at a brisk pace, 80 MPH a little over a little under. I’m around 5-6 thousand rpms. I was not going to be meek or shy. I pushed it. Demanded.

Go.

And it is going. It is solid as a rock. I am pretending to be a great big tall German who will get whatever it asks for and the machine gives, generously. The traffic thickened up. Slowed. Crawled. Time to split lanes. I hesitated for a second. You have to be confident to split lanes. You have to be Zen and All Seeing. What the heck I thought. Go for it. Might as well see how it does it. How it responds. Will it be there for me? Grooves, reflectors, cracks, paint, slow down, accelerate, cars moving in on you, cutting out of triple solid lines. The bike is giving me everything I ask and wish with heart and poise. It is solid and graceful like marble. It is very responsive but not nervous, which surprised me because the bike seems so heavy. When I got to Beaumont, there was a sign for the 60 West so I took it. Too much traffic here. So I turned around and I got to ride some hilly, slightly curvy roads. It’s dark by now.

I am thankful for the heated vest. I am cozy. I realized at one point that I too felt poised. Confident. We course through amid heavy traffic with ease, speed and stability. This bike is so steady there is not a whisper of a tremble in the mirrors. I feel protected. The extra lights that are on the forks make me feel like a starship hovering above the road and everyone sees me.

The legend says Beowulf went to kill Grendel. Grendel was the monster who went on regular trips to kill the people of King Hrothgar because he did not like their singing. Beowulf was a warrior, a protector, a defender.

Here in the dark, fast moving traffic I am protected. My path is bright and clear. The wind is not harassing me. We forge ahead, we hammer the white hot metal into our road. I feel the road angels and spirits opening the way for me. This is right.

I get this emotion. For the first time on this bike I pat the tank.

“Yes, I do like you. It’s just… hard.. to let IO go… but I do like you.”

A few instants after I utter these words, in the sky above us, the largest shooting star I have ever seen flashes in the sky. It is large and even through the fog, it glows brightly making a slow arch before disappearing. I point in the direction of the star with my left hand. I wonder if others saw it. Could be a sign, could be nothing but I’ll chose to see this as a good omen. The Gods, still with us. Destiny fulfilled. The human got it so the mission can continue.

I made it back in San Dimas around 6 PM or so. I pulled up to the garage door, Ozzy opened it from the inside. He said “ I would recognize that engine sound anywhere. I removed my gloves, helmet, balaclava and ear plugs and announced : “ I like it. I like the bike”.

I pushed it in the garage. Damn it’s heavy. But my heart is smiling.

performances

December 26, 2010

Performances, performances…

Friday december 10th
I got an impromptu invitation to come and play at a bead store : the Garden of Beaden, in Upland. The owner, Irene, is a friend of Melanie, she had been listening to my CD over and over I was told. That is always a huge compliment.

On that Friday she had what they call a trunk show where an artist brings her creations and sells them out of the store. So I set up my amp, brought out the pedals and the Go guitar for it’s very first gig.

I played from around 6:30 to close to 9 PM. This little guitar is truly amazing.. and with the pedals it is a load of fun… I was told that the trunk show was best ever because of the live music. At the end of the night we hung out in the store, I had never been to a bead store and I must say, it is an incredible world of creativity, shiny things that can mesmerize you, the unexpected and some very creatively inclined people.

I had seen a really cool little gizmo (sorry don’t know the proper name for these things) in the store, it was right behind me when I was playing, it caught my eye… skull and cross bones and found a use for it… one of the tabs on my boots had broken off so Irene said she could fix it… here it is…

Saturday the 18th
Forrest and I had our first performance at the Coffee Klatch in San Dimas. One of the highlights of the night was that Forrest was going to play his own compositions on the keyboards. Forrest is a world class drummer-percussionist but also a composer, arranger and keyboardist.

For him this was big as he has not performed his own material very often so it felt like a sort of “premiere” in a supportive environment. I had never heard him play this material but I knew it was going to be great, because Forrest is just that good.

The December 2nd show had been cancelled over issues related to who was going to be opening, judgments and nastiness, but now we had the chance to redeem all the ugliness and make it happen for Forrest and I and for all our friends. Everyone loved it and I felt a great sense of joy to see Forrest up there, expressing his music.

Forrest also had Lee ann, a flutist friend to come and play on two songs, it was beautiful. In the audience we had some of the usual suspects and some new suspicious characters (just kidding!) and I was so glad to see them all.

Again, after the deflating, discouragine events that took place in Altadena it felt like a rebirth to see these friends come and support us. The people at the Klatch were totally awesome, smiling, accommodating and we played the night away, then stayed late and chatted. I was really, really good.

After we finally let them close the cafe, we went down the street at Chili’s to celebrate further and we ended up closing the place. There was a lot of cheer. Even Leo got himself into a party mood. I stuck to the pomegranate-vodka sweet drink… which got me just about as happy as Leo.

December 22nd

That night we played at the Klatch in Rancho Cucamonga. It’s been raining so much, it was pounding a couple hours before I left to set up, then as I was driving the skies cleared. The area is surrounded by mountains and there was an incredible view of clouds seemingly lifting off the gray and dark mountains and the rays of the sun coloring the space between the mountains and those clouds. There is always beauty to be found.

I was warmly received at the Klatch, helped with the heavy gear and treated with the drink of my choice which was artwork in itself. Forrest arrived as a rainbow appeared in the East and the west was on fire with the setting sun.

Forrest started the night at his piano. It was beautiful. His music is incredibly moving. I am so amazed that I had the privilege to meet him, become friends and make music with him.

Then it was my turn to perform. Each time we play I find more freedom and inspiration to let myself roam with the music. I’ve always liked to take chances and experiment on stage. The band I had in Vancouver a few years back were brilliant at keeping up with my whims and turns, it’s not always an easy task for a musician. Forrest is right along there with me, new songs, new tricks, stops and starts, he’s right there perfectly attuned.

The night ended around 9 PM. We then drove to Ontario, no not in Canada as we’d still be driving but a few miles down the road here. We went at a Mexican place, with Ozzy Melanie, Forrest and friends of Ozzy, Leif, Catherine, Heidi and her man. We laughed, sang, some of us even danced 😉 can’t say too much here… but it was fun. Then as we were all standing in the parking lot before getting into our cars, Ozzy noticed a leaf on the car I was driving, it looked like the Canadian flag so I launched into the bilingual version of the Canadian anthem, then Ozzy launched into the Norwegian anthem, then Forrest sang the baritone harmony part of the American anthem. A fine night it was. I can’t quite imagine what passersby would think but we had a great time.

Coming up
Now we got something coming up on January 7th at the San Dimas Klatch and on January 23rd at the Rancho Cucamonga Klatch.

Life moves forward always. Music lives, motorcycles appeared, wood became my new instrument, dreams became magic, love and understanding flow, life moves us all forward towards tomorrow. A circle.

Woke up before the alarm. I tend to do that. I hate alarms. They are… alarming. The heart pounds and you jump out of your skin, your dreams, your blankets to silence the rude contraption that dares to ring. So I learned to just wake up before it. It’s pretty good except for the days I’ll do that 2 hours before then every 15 minutes following.

Got up, got a bowl of cereal, made an espresso, checked the email…. Time to go.

Go where? You ask?

Go get the bike…. OMG.

Yesterday I got the paperwork all lined up : license fee, 2011 tag, bike insurance with AAA. I don’t know if it took 40 minutes for the whole process.

So I hop in my leathers, grab my helmet, gloves, papers, Leo, wallet and off we go.

The rain has abated. Sunny says it’s the calm before the storm, she’d been watching the satellite views of the rain coming towards us. We got a dry window of time to get this done. I can feel it. The whole environment seems to hold its breath, dripping, soaked, damp and with it’s teeth chattering.

We climb up the hill towards Lake Hughes where the BMW awaits. I make mental notes of the places where the rain flooded the road and left sand banks. Road bikes and sand is not a good mix.

We get there. I see the bike, it is covered in a nice flowery bed sheet or something. I get 3 sets of keys and we go outside. I put the new tag on the plate.

I start to gear up. It’s quite a bit colder up here than it is in Lancaster, I would say a good 10 degrees. I take the bike out of the garage, man it’s heavy! This bike is about 200 pounds heavier than IO. Whoa. I thought IO was heavy…

we get it in the driveway facing the road out.

Then comes the funny moment of remembering my instructions : where is the choke, the starter button, the ABS brake light twinkles… We’re all looking trying to figure this out.

Zanya told me “She’s going to serve you well” She is excited. I am excited. We are all excited. There is a sense that a purpose, fate is being served here. A sense that this must happen somehow. I don’t know if we’ll get to know why but we are living this incredible chapter all together. I think it’s cool that we are all women doing this together, Sunny is a rider, Zanya is a pilot.

Sunny is documenting all this brilliantly with her camera. She took most of all these photos here, she even managed to make me look not too bad with a balaclava on my head. (I lost all vanity when I started wearing that thing)

I finally figure out the proper order for the ignition procedure. Vroom. I let out a Woo Hoo!

This is for real. I am awake. I am sitting on it and the engine is running.

I think of getting the kick stand up but with this bike, the stand goes up automatically when you grab the clutch (!) so it was already up. A few more photos and I’m off.

First impression : Holy crap! The tires are super low!!! Shoulda checked that.. duh… that is one of the first things you learn at motorcycle school… Pre-trip verification… Sunny had asked to wait for her at the bottom of the hill so I do. I tell her about the tires. She said there was a gas station up the road but I forgot about it as I was just focusing on how things felt.

It is very cold. Very, very cold up here. My visor fills with fog immediately, so I open it up to clear things a bit and it’s so cold I can’t breathe.. Oh yeah… I remember that feeling… almost like jumping in frigid waters. Aaaaahhhh!

I realize the throttle does not release when I let it go… I have to bring it back manually… Hmmm… going to have to look at that. It makes for lame gear changes…

We wound our way down the hill, nice and easy and get back to Lancaster.

There, it’s time to pack up the bike. I feel that window of opportunity narrowing. the weather is coming. Get, get, get, get going. Get all my stuff, the BMW gear that had been gifted to me, my clothes, my laptop, book… We spend a bunch of time looking all around the bike to find the electric outlet for the electric vest.

Oh I need to get my plate from IO…. I go get it. I see IO. It actually looks calm. Quiet. It’s a bit eerie. As if it took a deep, deep breath, let it out and stayed relaxed after that. It does not look in a hurry to get back out. I take the plate off…. wow… I remember putting it there in late May some months ago. Seems like half a lifetime away, just before I left. I get a few more things. IO rests. I love you. We turn the lights off, close the door.

We got back out, I put air in the tires, the front tire was at 15 lbs and the back at 14 when it should be 35 lbs… Yikes.

Leo has to try the controls himself of course, his opinion is always highly regarded, after all he too has traveled a long ways…

Steve arrives, he figures out the throttle, it is an old version of a “cruise control” that kept the handle from returning to neutral, he loosens the screw and the throttle is back to normal operation. We’re all fixed up.

Bags are packed, I’m bundled up with a wool turtle neck, a heated vest, my leather jacket and the rain jacket over top.

Sunny loaned me her thick winter gloves, I feel like the Michelin woman. Get on the bike, start the engine, get going, wave, I’m off. Off with my new machine… hopefully I won’t be calling anyone to come and pick me up because of some trouble.

I stop for a fill up then head out on the freeway.

This is a whole new experience, these two bikes could not be more different while looking somewhat similar. First thing I notice is how stable we are. Grooves or no grooves on the pavement, wind, water, puddles, buffeting from semi-trucks nothing fazes it, we just motor through. The rear view mirrors don’t even shimmer. It does not feel fast, but it goes powerfully, and I realize there is still some power to pass. It needs more time to slow down on its own if you let go of the throttle, because of the mass and inertia I guess, but the brakes are superlative. Holy cow. So braking is incredibly efficient and solid.

I cover the 90 some miles from Lancaster to San Dimas with ease, despite wind, rain, wet roads with puddles and debris very easily. I can see how a 500 mile day would be a breeze on this thing. It feels like I get less of the elements, rain, wind, It cuts through the air fairly silently.

……

It’s now 2:15 AM, I’m still up. The rain is just pouncing down. All I can think of is this bike. It’s big… but it’s got heart. If I was to compare this bike with IO I would say that the Suzuki was a thoroughbred and this BMW is a Warmblood. The Germans started developing a sport horse that was calmer and sturdier than a thoroughbred. They had local breeds which were light carriage horses and they mixed them up with race horses, thoroughbreds, they tried to get them big, athletic, well mannered, powerful and less prone to injury. This bike is a German Warmblood. Totally.

I think I might call it Beowulf… we’ll see.

Meeting the red BMW K75 S

December 20, 2010

It’s pounding rain. No I’m not back in Vancouver… I think it’s been snowing up there… I am down in Lancaster or should I say up because this is at higher elevation than San Dimas….

I got a ride from San Dimas to Lancaster yesterday, Ozzy took me up here. The big point of this trip… Meet the new bike.

I was going to take the train up but it was declared that “a star should not be riding the train” on this rainy Sunday. What could I say to object to that? That I am not a star? That I can do it all on my own? That just would not be right. We fueled up with Coffee Klatch high octane jet fuel coffee and headed on out up the 210 and the 5 and the 14.

I got to say this weather makes me feel strangely like I stepped into a deja vu. With the incessant rain, soaked roads, greening hills… it is starting to really look like BC… the Wet Coast. No it’s not a typo, that is how we “affectionately” call it up there.

As we approach Palmdale out of the heavy skies, gray clouds and antediluvian rains a rainbow appears in the sky… I will take this as a good omen.

a bit hard to see but it shone bright...

A few hours later I end up in the hills near the Angeles Forrest. It’s really beautiful, you can definitely see that despite the storm going on. I had an inkling that these hills were hiding some mysteries and magic and I was not disappointed…

So how did I ended up here today?

Well, back in late October I had played a set with Forrest at Butler’s Coffee in Palmdale. That night in the audience were two friends of Steve and Sunny. They are a couple, they both are pilots ( airplanes) she is also an author, creator, he’s an actual test pilot, the real deal. Together they both exude something powerful. A mix of confident strength and deep kindness. They are beautiful.

So, following that Palmdale show and after hearing my story and learning of the demise of my Suzuki, he had decided to give me his motorcycle. Again, not a typo… to give me this bike.

It has been a hard thing for me to fully assimilate, grasp, comprehend… I’m not sure I completely do yet. Sunny announced the news to me a couple of weeks ago and I am still pinching myself.

So this is why we are at their house, for that first meeting with the bike.

I saw the bike as we pulled into the driveway. It is bright red. it’s shiny. I don’t dare to look too much… Oh my.

I am halfway expecting that I will wake up any minute now, like when I was little and I dreamt of eating a Mae West cake and just when I would be about to take that first bite I would wake up with no Mae West to be found on my pillow… So we get in the house, we are served delicious hot apple cider and German pastries, we chat, hang out… It’s warm, cozy and comfortable there is a wood fire burning and I almost forget why we are here when he says : So you want to see that bike?

We put our coats on and head out. It’s sitting in the garage, next to an airplane. My mom would love that… She loved all that flying stuff… She actually was the first woman to sky dive in Quebec….

I look at the bike.

then I am being explained the controls, the ABS, the turn signals… It’s so nice… it is standing on a center stand, so it looks really high. I get on it and my feet can’t touch the ground. We get it off the center stand… It is actually lower than my Suzuki. I almost got my heels on the ground! That had been my worry, that it would be too big…

The engine starts nicely. It’s a whole different machine than what I am used to. Soooooo unbelievable… and again I don’t know what to say… so I grin.

Grinning...

We chat for a while, have a look at the airplane, I go out to see the Angeles Mountains in the distance, it’s so beautiful. A paradise…. We get back in the house and handle the paperwork and I am being handed out the papers to this BMW motorcycle… I feel like hugging him to no end but I don’t think that would be totally cool… I feel like jumping around but I still can’t quite metabolize this whole thing yet. I might still wake up… So again, I grin.

We head out. It’s dark, it’s raining but it’s wild and beautiful in my mind. I can start to feel the journeys, travels forming in the ether… we will ride… In the distance, the lights of Lancaster appear between the hills. They are subdued by fog and rain, they look dreamy. If I am dreaming it’s a nice dream…

We head into town, we are going to a concert at the Lancaster Arts Center featuring Manhattan Transfer. When I was in college I was learning some of those songs… My sister had an album that she played over and over… Birdland… The band is great, the drummer actually plays double-kick drum in a jazz show… Metal is taking over the world! The guitarist has a brilliant swing… the harmonies are rich and you can just close your eyes and enjoy all those colors..

Today I went to AAA and got the whole paperwork side of things handled. It was painless, quick and it did not break the bank. So now I have a BMW K75S in my name… I also inherited a full BMW armored suit… Pants, jacket and heated vest. Pinch. Pinch. Ow!

…..

I am so incredibly grateful, amazed and thankful and happy and … all of that into one.

Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

The rain still falls like mad, I am nice and warm and dry in the house with occasional visits on my lap by Rossi the Abyssinian cat. I don’t know where the trail will take me but now I feel I will get there powerfully and safely and with the blessings of the Gods, the winds, the Fates and the Universe. Lets dream some more…

Bye love.

December 14, 2010

We left the house at 11 AM. Ozzy deftly drives the sleek black Cadillac down the 210, we glide on the tarmac speedily. It’s a glorious day. The fall colors are bright, the air is crisp, we are expecting temperatures to go above 80 today.

I am sitting in the back seat wearing my motorcycle gear, my helmet next to me. I also took Leo with us today. The reason for this trip is not just to go out and have a Sunday stroll. Our ultimate destination is Lancaster for a meeting but I decided to multi-task and go pick up IO, my Suzuki at the mechanic’s shop and bring it to Steve’s shop in Lancaster where it will get to rest in the company of 4 other bikes.

I am heading out for the last ride.

Interesting how today we take the reverse course we did over a month ago. Reverse in a lot of ways. We are now heading West, it is daytime, the sun shines, I am going to pick up the bike. Back then it was night time, dark, cold, I had just dropped the bike to get healed after a massive electrical failure near Joshua Tree.

I remember Melanie and Ozzy picking me up on that night on the street corner, I was standing there on foot in my motorcycle gear with my saddle bags and luggage, dirty, tired and disoriented by this separation anxiety I always felt when I was spliced from my bike.

Today we are picking it up, but we are picking up a condemned IO.

“…a time bomb waiting to happen…”

We get to Glendale, to the shop, I see it right away. By the side of the shop, seat off, with a battery charger hooked on to it, like life support. It’s dirty. It looks lonely but still proud. We chat for a while. Darren, one of the mechanics there, also an artist is working on a sign for a restaurant in Huston. Metal and fiberglass, Melanie is enthralled by the model and the process. I love how she gets excited.

I get back to IO. Don tells me a more, more of all of what is wrong with the bike. The more he talks the more I wonder how I actually rode 16 thousand miles on it. monkeyed wiring, silicone in the engine, oil not getting where it should… It is astounding.

I try to start it and if I had any hopes of a miraculous resuscitation and perfect miraculous health they were dashed right then and there. It sounds rough, black smoke comes out the exhaust, the sound is a flat sort of throaty burrr that is not quite right. I sit on it.

Oh.

Home.

My bike, my home. This bike had become my home. Was home. All around the continent it was all I had, everything I needed. I feel comforted and immediately saddened because it’s the end. The last hurrah. The last ride.

I roll down the alley, then up Fletcher on the freeway. I ply it into the curve.. Oh. Yeah. You. You and me. We could go anywhere… we were a team.

But as we go up the 2 I know it’s not all good. I can feel the weakness. It’s heart wants but can’t. I decided to stay on the freeways to get to Lancaster. If something happens I would be easier to find then up in the mountains somewhere.

I get onto the 5. A little ways passed Burbank it happened for the first time. Bwaaaa …aaa…aaa… 5000, 4000, 3000 RPMs, frrrrr…. I pull hurriedly to the side of the road. It feels like all power went off… is it the electrical?

Deadness.

Wow, that was about 5 miles… I get my helmet off and call Ozzy.
“I broke down”
“Where are you”
“Passed Burbank on the 5 heading north… some storage place…”
“We’re on our way.”

I sit there for a minute. I guess that is the end and it’s sadder than sad. For the heck of it I try starting it. It roars back to life… I call Ozzy again.

“It started. I will continue. I will let you know”
“we’ll wait for you”

It revs up. I take a look over my shoulder. Lets go.

Don had said : “Go easy” so I will. So I am. I keep it around 4500 RPMs in fifth gear. I sense this deep light grinding in there that has never been there before. Poor baby. As I approach the 14 the RPMs start to climb down again… Uh oh… there is nowhere to go, no shoulder, it is a wall of cement blocks and there is only two lanes. I put my right turn signal, motion people to go around me and crawl up the road at about 25 MPH, the traffic wells behind me. I am a public danger here… I finally reach a place where there is a shoulder. Pull over, turn it off.

Maybe it will be the same as in Burbank. I give it a couple of minutes. Start it again. It roars to life.

“All right baby. Thank you. We’re going to take it real easy and we’re going to make it to Lancaster and you’ll get to finally rest. Hang in there baby. Hang in there.”

I roll forward, up the hill, towards the high desert. IO runs. Soon after I see the black Cadillac onto the on ramp from the 210. I wave. Melanie and Ozzy are right behind me, 4 way flashers on. Gee… I’m not alone. I gotta say, it feels very comforting. Not alone.

As we climb up, I look around. I feel the air, the sound, I guess each bike has it’s own way of cutting through the air and buffeting the wind so each bike has it’s own environment. I am sitting there and I can see in my mind pictures from all over. I can feel joy and immense freedom, a kind of beingness, the kind that gave me my life back. On this bike it’s instantaneous. I am the wind, I am the air, I am flying, I am untethered, free… Tears roll down my face.

My heart’s truth is that I don’t want to let it go. The world’s truth is that I can’t keep it going, it could kill us both. Literally. Don said the engine could blow out, oil on the road, on my leg, us going down, traffic behind… not a pretty picture. Another scenario is that it could catch on fire. So no. It has to stop now for any chance of future redemption.

We ground to a halt twice more. Twice more we restarted and got going. I keep patting the tank. “Hang in there baby”

It was strange to have to stay behind a semi truck going up the hill because I did not have enough power to pass it… Or not have to worry about going too fast and checking my RPMs… You know the 5 on 5 (5 thousand RPMs in 5th gear = 75 MPH kind of thing…

About 6 miles from Palmdale it suddenly started to pick up speed. Same RPMs but it accelerated, I have no clue what this is all about. Ozzy said it could have been a vacuum in the gas tank starving the engine. As if for extra measure the Universe managed to make it really totally incredibly dire so that I would let it go, not try to hang on to it…

L Avenue, I get off the freeway, Lancaster looks beautiful today in this gentle winter light. I make it to my destination. Roll up the driveway, kill the engine, get off, walk to the door. I can sense no one is here. They’ve probably already left for the meeting. I turn around and walk back to the bike, fumbling for my phone. Then I looked up. And there it was.

So beautiful in the sun. I lost it. I’m crying and crying. I got the camera out. I’m taking photos upon photos, just to be certain, just a last feeble attempt at not letting it go. At keeping some of it with me.

Oh does it ever hurt.

I am not so good at goodbyes, never have been. There is a feeling of utter loneliness. Loss. Irreplaceability. The End. El Finito.

I thought I had dealt with this whole thing a couple of weeks ago. I was pretty smug. Wow. You know, I had been able to let it go gracefully. Not so.

Sunny arrived. opened the garage, I push the bike in the garage, look at it, fall apart again. I’m so not good with this stuff.

The garage door rolled down, the bike on one side, me on the other. I try to act civilized.

I tell some of the details to Sunny, she said she thought that it was the Grace of God that actually carried me so far. I believe she is right. I believe there is a greater scheme, a script for a play we don’t know the title yet.

So here we are.

6 months on the road. 6 months in the hands of Fate. It’s been quite the voyage.

I look ahead and there is still no gridded, organized and extolled plan. There is a red BMW waiting for me for a blind date. That should happen sooner than later. I am curious, a bit shy, nervous and I hope it likes me some and that I can fall in love again.

But you know, for the first time in a long time, I am not alone with a machine and a stuffed dog anymore. As much as every fiber in my being hurts with loss, I am surrounded with beautiful, amazing, brilliant, generous, fun and inspiring souls. They have made me a better person and I love them so very much.

The sun has been gracing the sky just about every day, I have Leo, two guitars and the will to live.

What more can I ask? Really..

I have promised myself to fix IO. There will be a time and a place. I know it. I will get all the wires, the transmission, a new engine, suspension, nice pipes with a Yoshimura baffle, I’ll get the short windshield, the bar ends, I’ll fix all the scratches and dents, I will give it back all that it gave me. I will make it gnarly, righteous, absolutely flamboyant and sleek as it is. I’ll do it with love and anticipation to hear that metal heart roar again and we’ll get to roam together again.

South Passadena

December 8, 2010

The trip in South Passadena

this is where we had dinner, a grill cheese restaurant and cereal bar… yeah, you can have your Captain Crunch, Cocoa Pop and grill cheese with Spam, with a Coke in a small bottle… and yes, it was good.

Christmas is in the air.

We entered the wild world of this boutique for craft makers and artists

how cool is this guy in his tub…

the guard cat

yeah… holy crap…

Then we walked into this antique store and things got downright weird

Duuude!