Friday, November 20, 2015

Just a Big Biker Baby

Thought for the day:  You haven't lived until you rode a Harley down the interstate with a big grin on your face and had a bug fly in your mouth.  [anonymous]

Yeah, I suppose I could do that. You know, fly down the road on a motorcycle with a big grin on my face.

As long as the bike had training wheels.

And I had the road entirely to myself.


The reality is, if I'm flying down the road on a Harley, the only reason a bug can fly into my mouth is because my mouth is stretched wide open in a terrified scream.

Yeah, some biker babe I am. More like a big biker baby. See,  I'm not a biker chick; I'm a biker chicken.

It hasn't always been this way, but see, I don't have a very good track record with motorcycles. The first time I ever got on one was as a teenager, when I wasn't afraid of anything. Of course, my parents had forbidden me to get on a motorcycle, but what can I say? The boy was really cute in a rebel without a cause kinda way, so when he asked if I wanted to hop on and take a spin around the neighborhood... I hopped on.

And, um, the foot pegs weren't down. I'd never been that close to a motorcycle in my entire life, and I didn't know any better, so we rode around the neighborhood, with my legs dangling as if I were sitting on the back of a bicycle. Sure, it felt a little awkward, but mostly I felt... cool.

Until I tried to slide off the bike, that is. See those things in the picture? They're exhaust pipes. In case you don't know it, exhaust pipes get HOT. Very very hot. When I got off, a good-sized patch of skin from the inside of my right leg stayed behind on that pipe. It, um, hurt. Really really hurt. I howled loudly enough to make half the windows in our neighborhood rattle... on the inside. On the outside, I didn't make a peep. Just smiled at the boy and thanked him for the ride. (Do you have any idea how difficult it is to walk away with the proper amount of hip sway when your bloody leg is on fire...?) And for good measure, I had to wear long pants most of the summer to hide the oozing burn from my parents. Oh, no, ma'am, I don't need to wear shorts, Mom. (pant- pant) I'm not too hot at all...

Even with that rather inauspicious start, I still had a thing for bikes, or more precisely... for the guys who rode them. There's just something about the look. The attitude. The hair. Even the dangling cigarette and greasy fingernails were mega-attractive to this wannabe biker babe.

Now then, let me tell you about Smarticus. He rode a bike, and had all of those deliciously attractive bad boy attributes... but to make things even better, he was actually a... good guy. A very good guy. And to top things off, he was smart and funny.

God help me, I didn't stand a chance.

[credit: Basem Wasef]

The first time Smarticus took me out on his bike, it ran out of gas.

I kid you not.

Then, it started to rain.

Nope. Still not kidding.

To this day, he doesn't understand how that could have happened, because he said he'd filled the tanks before picking me up.

Still, it honest-to-goodness did happen. And I thought it was funny as hell. (Luckily, it wasn't too far of a trek to a gas station.)

When our younger son was in his early teens, he had a small 50 cc motorcycle... a starter bike, you might say. Smarticus thought I should get on and give it a try. After perfunctory directions, I did. In retrospect, I guess I didn't follow those perfunctory directions very well.

I may not have flown through the air like the dude in the picture, but I DID forget how to stop the darned thing. (Never a good idea.) I plowed through the bushes and came to a halt by running into the side of my suburban tank 1967 Mercury Commuter station wagon. (Whatever works, right?) That was the one and only time I tried to ride on my own.

Faster, faster, faster, until the thrill of speed overcomes the fear of death.  [Hunter S. Thompson]

Yeah, well, no offense to the late Mr. Thompson, but I never got to that point. The very last time my tush straddled the back of a Harley was about  thirty-five years ago. Let's just say Smarticus embraced the thrill of speed far more than I did, and I decided it wouldn't be a good idea for us both to die on a motorcycle when we still had kids to raise.


A few years after that, I got the phone call no one ever wants to get. One of Smarticus' biker pals called to tell me there had been an accident, and they're loading him in the ambulance now. 

No speed involved. A guy driving a truck claimed he didn't see the bike. 

At that point, my on-again-off-again love affair with motorcycles was officially over. NO MORE, I said.


It'd be different if it we lived somewhere where there's lots of open road...

THAT would be fun, exhilarating even. THAT would feel like freedom. THAT would be like the way it was when we rode a bike all over Oahu when we met in Hawaii for R&R back in 1970.


But the reality is, we live near Atlanta, traffic capital of the world. (If it isn't, it should be.)

I'm talking wall-to-wall traffic, lots of in-a-hurry truckers, and way too many people who don't see a motorcycle. 

Still, all these years, I've been aware of my husband's lustful wandering eye. I've seen how his eyes light up whenever he spots a hot-looking... Harley. (sigh)

Then, about a month or so ago, my brother emailed me to see how I'd feel if he were to give his Harley to Smarticus. (I mean, how utterly cool is it that he ran it past me first?)

Anyhow, here's the question. Given our history, what would YOU have said? What would YOU have done? I mean, if I kept my trap shut about it, Smarticus would never have been the wiser...

Okay, so I'm a sap. I told him about it right away, and I'm telling you, his eyes lit up like a kid's at Christmas. Bottom line? He's not a child, and I'm not his mother, so I decided it wouldn't be fair to keep denying him something I knew he wanted so much. I love him; he loves motorcycles. End of story. So I caved. My brother came to visit us this past week, and he brought the bike with him. And we all (ta- DA!) lived happily ever after.

Especially Smarticus. Think he's happy to have another Harley back in the fold again...?

                                                      Um, yeah, I'd call that happy...

Initially, I figured I wasn't gonna be getting on the back of that thing, no way, now how. But I dunno. Maybe it's never too late to become a real biker babe. My decades-old faded black Harley tank top still fits, so who knows...? (And I do look a little better than this gal...)

Maybe it's time to let go of the fear, and embrace the fun, the adventure... and Smarticus. (Believe you me, this big ol' baby would be holding on tightly!) Maybe. Just maybe.

                                   Until next time, take care of yourself. And each other.


Friday, November 13, 2015

Whistling in the Dark

Thought for the day:  Why in the world do people think an amputated rabbit's foot will bring them luck? The way I see it, it sure didn't bring any luck to the rabbit...

I'm not at all superstitious. Friday the thirteenth is just like any other day, knock on wood. But don't worry. For those of you who are superstitious, I've got my fingers crossed that you encounter nothing but good luck today.

I do NOT believe the act of washing a car will make it rain. Well, actually, maybe it will, but as everyone knows, that's due to science, not superstition... Murphy's law and all that. (However, if anyone has a suggestion as to how to make it stop raining, I'd be much obliged.)

I say NO to the notion that breaking a mirror will bring seven years' bad luck. True, I have a peculiar propensity for avoiding mirrors as much as possible, but that has nothing to do with a fear of breaking them. I just don't wanta give that old-gray-mare-who-ain't-what-she-used-to-be who stares back at me the satisfaction. Why let that old broad spoil an otherwise great day?

I do NOT believe garlic will keep away vampires and evil spirits; I just happen to LIKE eating it. I also enjoy eating an apple every day, and it has absolutely nothing to do with that silly old saying about keeping the doctor away. Sure, I pick up pennies when I spot them lying on the ground, but it has nothing to do with that old Find a penny, pick it up, and all the day you'll have good luck. Nothing at all. I'm simply cheap frugal.

We do NOT have any lucky horseshoes hanging in our house, but if we did, I'd be sure they were hanging properly. You know, so it looks like the letter U. And that has nothing to do with that blather about not letting the luck run out. They simply... look better... that way.

Oh, I could go on and on, like about how unlucky it's supposed to be to walk under a ladder, to rock an empty rocking chair, to open an umbrella in the house, or for a black cat to cross your path. (Like Groucho Marx said, A black cat crossing your path signifies that the animal is going somewhere.) But I won't. Instead, we're gonna concentrate on Friday the thirteenth. Ever wonder why that date makes some superstitious people fairly tremble in fear? Well, then, you've come to the right place. I'm gonna tell ya.

The following post originally appeared on May 13, 2011... a Friday the 13th, of course, and it had the original title of Friggatriskaidekaphobia, Anyone? In the early years of this blog, I posted much more frequently than I do now, and every Friday, I included what I called weirdest news stories of the week. Tell ya what, even though those stories are more than four years old now, they're still kinda funny, so I'm going to leave them in the post, too.


Thought for the day:  Luck is the idol of the idle.

Friggatriskaidikaphobia is a freaky cool word that means fear of Friday the 13th. Since Friday is considered by some to be an unlucky day, and thirteen is feared by some as an unlucky number, it should come as no surprise that when the two converge, superstitious fears multiply accordingly. We could say that

Unlucky Friday + Unlucky Thirteen = Unluckier Friday

The word superstition means a belief or practice resulting from ignorance and fear of the unknown, a trust in magic or chance, or a false conception of causation. Although I have no statistics to back me up, I'll hazard a guess that there are far more superstitious males than females. I mean, really, have you ever heard of a woman refusing to change her lucky drawers or socks? No, of course not. Although I will concede that this peculiar attachment to one's dirty socks and undies and by extension, one's aversion to donning clean ones, may in fact be rooted in something entirely different than a belief in their ability to prolong a streak of good luck. For any gentlemen with a proclivity to wear said scuzzy skivvies, be forewarned: No matter how much  luck you believe those skivvies may bring you in games of chance or sport, I double dog guarantee you that wearing them will NOT lead to any semblance of luck with the ladies.

Most of us are familiar with superstitions dealing with black cats, spilling salt, breaking mirrors, and walking under ladders, but have you ever wondered where those superstitions originated?

And why FRIDAYS, for goodness sake?

And why the number THIRTEEN?

Since this is the only Friday the 13th we'll be encountering this calendar year, I thought today would be the perfect time to investigate.

WHY FRIDAY  : In ancient Rome, Friday was the designated day for executions, which certainly ended a streak of good luck for anyone whacked by the authorities, whether he was wearing his lucky bowling shirt or not. Witches' covens allegedly gather on Fridays, too, and in the Middle Ages, Friday was actually dubbed "Witches' Sabbath". The Good Friday crucifixion of Christ casts the greatest stigma on the day for Christians, but other Biblical events are also attributed to Friday: the day Eve gave Adam the apple, the day they were expelled from Eden, the day God struck the Tower of Babel, and the day Solomon's Temple was destroyed.

Some of the strange superstitions regarding Friday are:
  • Clothing made on a Friday will never fit properly.
  • Visiting a doctor on a Friday will lead to no good news.
  • Changing bedclothes on a Friday will lead to nightmares.
  • Marrying or moving on a Friday will come to a bad end.
  • Cutting your nails on a Friday will lead to sorrow.
  • Receiving bad news on a Friday will cause more wrinkles than receiving them on any other day of the week.
  • Starting a trip on a Friday will lead to misfortune.
  • Ships that set sail on a Friday are doomed to suffer bad luck.
About a hundred years ago, to disprove the superstition about ships, the Brits commissioned H.M.S. Friday. The crew was selected on a Friday, the keel was set on a Friday,  the ship was launched on a Friday, and the man chosen to captain the ship was even named Friday. The ship set sail on its maiden voyage on a Friday, too. And was never heard from again.

WHY THIRTEEN: You're probably more familiar with this word: triskaidekaphobia. That's the fear of the number thirteen, and it's no secret that many buildings don't acknowledge a thirteenth floor, and many cities opt to skip Thirteenth Street. But, WHY? 

For one thing, a witch's coven has thirteen members. There are also thirteen steps leading to the gallows, and thirteen knots in a hangman's noose. The blade of a guillotine falls thirteen feet, and at her trial, Lizzie Borden spoke thirteen words. There were thirteen people at the Last Supper, and the thirteenth card in a deck of tarot cards? Death.

Apollo 13, the thirteenth mission to be launched from pad #39, (13 X 3)  was aborted after an explosion in the fuel cell of the service module, after leaving the launching pad at 13:13 CST. The date? April thirteenth.

One theory about the root of triskaidekaphobia lays it at the feet of ancient man. It claims that when man was first learning to count, he counted on ten fingers and two feet, so anything beyond twelve was considered frightening and mysterious. On the other hand, what I find mysterious is why he didn't count on his ten toes, too. It's highly possible that he refused to take off his lucky socks.

Would you believe the number thirteen was once considered lucky? For one thing, some early religions considered the thirteenth step to be the one souls take to enter the eternal glory of the afterlife. And in the prehistoric goddess-worshiping cultures, the number thirteen represented femininity, and corresponded to the number of lunar (and menstrual) cycles in a year. The Earth Mother of Laussel, an ancient carving found in France, depicts a female holding a crescent-shaped horn with, you guessed it,  thirteen notches in it. Later, when society became male-dominated and the solar calendar replaced the lunar one, twelve became the "perfect" number, replacing the "imperfect" thirteen.

So, there ya have it. Now you know a little bit about the superstitions associated with Friday the thirteenth. Me? I still prefer the TGIF approach.

How about you? Do you have any superstitions or lucky socks?

OK, time for (a drum roll, if you will ...) the


**  In New York, a 21-year-old happened to be riding in a car that was pulled over by the police. As soon as the car stopped, the young man immediately took off running, and jumped into the Hudson River. He was able to latch onto a branch 250 feet downstream, where he waited for the police to rescue him from the fifty degree water. Know why he ran? It seems that the shivering young man thought there was a warrant out for his arrest. There wasn't. Sounds to me like there should have been.

** When two female investigators in Vienna, Austria began questioning his client, a lawyer (ahem) showed his briefs. The attorney dropped his trousers and then perched on a desk in his tightie whities with his back to the women. The client is suspected of a sex crime, but now the lawyer is being investigated, as well. (Maybe they were his lucky shorts?)

** After three late-night escape attempts, a German shepherd named Jack finally escaped from an Oregon veterinarian's office by pulling his kennel open, tripping the dead bolt on the clinic's back door and pulling down the handle to get outside. In the process, Jack tripped three motion detectors and tore open four bags of dog food. The vet said he was "impressed" with Jack's impressive recovery from the flu. Me? I wonder if that dog's last name was Bauer.

Bauer... Jack Bauer.  [morguefile]

                                       Until next time, take care of yourselves. And each other.

Friday, November 6, 2015

A Unique Monument

Thought for the day:  The willingness with which our young people serve our country shall be directly proportional to the way they perceive our nation, and how it treats its veterans. [George Washington]

Georgia Guidestones
Just about everyone in the world has heard something about Stonehenge, and regular readers of this blog have heard of the Georgia Guidestones, but there's another remarkable set of stones in the fine state of Arizona that I think we should all know about, too. Especially now, with Veterans Day just around the corner, because these special stones form a very unique monument dedicated to our country's veterans.

Aligned with our celebration of Veterans Day, on November 11th of each year, at precisely 11:11 AM, the sun's rays pass through the ellipses of five Armed Forces pillars to gloriously illuminate a mosaic of the Great Seal of the United States. 

anthem veterans memorial arizona by                                                            renee                                                            palmer-jones                                                            (9)
[photos courtesy of Anthem Community Council]
anthem veterans memorial arizona by                                                            renee                                                            palmer-jones                                                            (1)
[photo by Mike Spinelli]
This monument,  located in the rather aptly-named town of Anthem,  and designed by local resident Renee Palmer-Jones,  offers a stirringly visual tribute which honors the service and sacrifice of those who have served in the U.S. armed forces.  The five marble pillars represent the five branches of service, and are staggered from seventeen feet to six feet, in accordance with the Department of Defense's prescribed precedence, in descending order from the Army, to the Marines, Navy, Air Force, and Coast Guard. 

anthem veterans memorial arizona by                                                            renee                                                            palmer-jones                                                            (2)
[photo courtesy of Anthem Community Council]
anthem veterans memorial arizona by                                                            renee                                                            palmer-jones                                                            (3)
[photo courtesy of Anthem Community Council]
anthem veterans memorial arizona by                                                            renee                                                            palmer-jones                                                            (4)
[photo courtesy of Anthem Community Council]
The red bricks within the Circle of Honor are inscribed with the names of more than 750 U.S. servicemen and women, and along with the white pillars and (hopefully) blue sky, combine to represent the colors of America's flag, and the circle itself symbolizes an unbreakable border. Local resident and chief engineer Jim Martin had the onerous task of correctly aligning the memorial with the sun, so that its rays would illuminate the country's seal at precisely 11:11 AM each November eleventh. 

anthem veterans memorial arizona by                                                            renee                                                            palmer-jones                                                            (5)
[photo courtesy of Anthem Community Council]

Let's  hope the sun shines down brightly on the little town of Anthem, Arizona, next Wednesday, so those who are gathered will be able to see this extremely unique monument work its magic.  


Veterans Day is an official United States holiday that honors people who have served in the U.S. Armed Forces, also known as veterans. It is a federal holiday that is observed on November 11. It coincides with other holidays such as Armistice Day and Remembrance Day, which are celebrated in other parts of the world and also mark the anniversary of the end of World War I (major hostilities of World War I were formally ended at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918, when the Armistice with Germany went into effect).

The United States also originally observed Armistice Day; it then evolved into the current Veterans Day holiday in 1954. Veterans Day is not to be confused with Memorial Day; Veterans Day celebrates the service of all U.S. Military veterans, while Memorial Day is a day of remembering the men and women who died while serving.

 To those who died, honor and eternal rest; to those still in bondage, remembrance and hope; to those who returned, gratitude and peace.  [inscription on the Illinois Vietnam Veterans memorial]


By the way, looking for something good to read? This past Monday, Redemption, the third book in Jessica Therrien's series Children of the Gods, was released. In case you haven't read the first two books of the series, I'm pleased to announce that book one, Oppression, and book two, Uprising, are currently on sale for the paltry price of ninety-nine cents. Check out this cover:

                                                                How's about a little blurb?

Lead Council member, Christoph, is dead by Elyse’s hand, and Descendants have begun to emerge, exposing their secret to the world. Some see this as the prophecy come to fruition, but the prophecy caries a heavy consequence. It was never meant to be as peaceful as most had hoped.

Humans and Descendants struggle to live together in a world that isn’t ready for such a change. America is divided. Those who glorify the supernatural race believe Descendants truly are the gods they claim relation to. Others see them as a threat.

When Elyse gives birth to the next generation oracle, she sees one final vision—war. The destruction of the country’s major cities, and the end of America as we know it.

After her daughter is born, Elyse finds herself without the ability she needs to predict the future. Desperate to save the world from such conflict, she puts her faith in the hope that Descendants are the key to survival. After all, they have the power to supply a broken society with the means to survive.

Only from the ashes can a new world be born.


                                                          Sound good? Go get it!

Until next time, take care of yourselves. And each other. And to all of you veterans? A very special thank you.  Freedom is not free.