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The Snake, Mulholland

Meaning. There is so much meaning in it that I cannot begin to write what it means to me. Countless times I try, and countless times I fail. It is a motorbike- plastic on the outside; aluminum, steel, titanium and composites thereof on the inside. She is it. “She,” because she is a she; She is my she. She is a motorbike, any attempt to write about her is mostly in vain.
And, after being away from her for nearly five months, we are together again. She & I. Today was spent tinkering in the front yard and riding to the ocean. The air snowing with poplar cotton, and warm with ocean breeze.

meaning

And so, in my attempts to write to you about the meaning I find in her, my motorcycle, I’m lost, and cannot convey much. So I leave you with the words of Ted Simon on his 1973 Triumph Tiger :

The movement has a complex rhythm with many pulses beating simultaneously. Underlying it is the engine with its subtle blend of sounds, eighty explosions a second, cams on push rods, push rods on tappets, rockers on valve stems, valves on seats, ball bearings revolving and racing, cogs meshing and thrashing in oil, oil pumps throbbing, gases hissing, chains whipping over sprockets, all this frenzy of metal in motion, amazing that it can last for even a minute, yet it will have to function for thousands of hours to take me round and home again.

Through all these pulses blending and blurring I seem to hear a slow and steady beat, moving up and down, up and down, three semi-tones apart, a second up, a second down; as I listen it grows clearer, unmistakable. Is it there, or am I inventing it? Is it the pulse of my own body intercepting the sound, modifying it with my bloodstream? Try as I will, I hear no other pulse, no other pitch.

Ted Simon, Jupiter’s Travels (1979)

All Horses are Good Horses

I saw her again and it had been 7 years; and at that time 7 years ago she was but a pinprick in the foothills.  It’s evening at the ranch and there is campfire. The women talk horses; we talked about horses present and horses past; about mares in foal and yearlings just learning, about those who retired and those who had died. When I asked about her they pointed to the hills, and when they did two chestnuts and a bay came trotting down the hill. “There she is.”

Sienna. She remembered me. She stuck her nose in my face and blew hot warm breath in my eyes. This horse I knew from 10 years prior when we were both 15 years old. Sienna, the large and doe-eyed chestnut mare that lived her former life in the city. She was purchased by a rich white lady. When I was a kid I rode this mare, rode her around in circles or in the field jumping fences or in the streets. She was a good horse and I don’t think I ever fell off of her.. the mare did have an affliction for rearing up on her haunches and it did scare the woman. The horse got given to the ranch.  Janice worked with her and took her in as her own.

“Yes, she had a lot of problems.”  From her pigeon toes to her distaste for bridling, we talked about it all. “We have a good farrier,” she said. “He fixed her.”   I recalled how the best farrier in the city disowned this horse as a client after she kicked him. “Yes, our farrier would do one foot of Sienna’s, go trim another horse, do one more of Sienna’s feet, and then come back the next day to finish off her rears.”

Janice really loved Sienna. She saw the willingness in this mare, it was just wrapped underneath pain and fear- the life of a misunderstood horse. Trust does not come overnight. Trust has to be earned.

“Last year I introduced her to cows. We were herding. She wouldn’t look at them, but she was a gem. She did everything I asked her to, and then some.”

Janice said I ought work with Sienna.  Guided by another girl, we set out with halters to find the herd. Marleen whistled to the trees and she found her horse- a beautiful black young Clydesdale cross- Atlas. She called for Sienna but Sienna wasn’t there. I set out wandering zig-zagging in search. Marleen pointed across the hill to a brown dot by the cabin- “I’m not sure,” she said.. “but that might be her.”

We wandered across the way.

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In the arena we did ground work. It’s a bit like dancing. It’s all about footwork, the movement, keeping tune with your partner, locking eyes and winking. Sienna had come a long way since I had last worked with her. I could tell she was listening, unfazed by all the action. We were in an arena with four other horses, surrounded by green fields dapples and greys, roans and bays.

When the time felt right, I threw leadrope over her neck and tied it. I walked Sienna to the block and I ran my hands over her back. And then I hopped on.

Damn. It felt good to be on a horse again. I hadn’t been on a horse in a year. I rode bareback in a rope halter. Sienna was soft and supple, attentive to my every move. I walked her around in circles, yielded her on and off the rail. We did turns on the haunches and turns on the forehand. I asked her for a trot and she trotted. It took me a bumpy circle to find my seat, but I found it and we were in sync.

I asked her to give and she gave. I sat deeper in seat and she slowed. A bit of leg and she followed through. A turn of my head and she went. A pat on the neck and she relaxed, a bit of rein and she loosened. At 24 this mare was light as a feather. At 24 she appeared to be aging backwards.

Patience. I’ll reiterate the well known gospel;  Patience is a virtue. Give a horse what she needs and she’ll give you more in return. All Horses are Good Horses.

 

Lola (2021)

This dog. I got her for my 9th birthday. She is 16 now. 16 and-a-half. She’s Godsent. That’s what I think, but maybe I’m bias. We took her on her first big roadtrip in August 2020. She was 15. 15-and-a-half. We went up North to the Yukon in a lowered Sierra. We camped the way. That was the dog’s second time to the Yukon.  She flew there with me in 2018.

in the Sierra, August 2020

 Her first time flying, she was less than 3 months old. We flew to Prince Rupert to visit Nona. I was 9 years old. Nona escorted us to the Rupert airport, which is on an island,  and walked us to security. Nona told me to put the bag down on the conveyor belt.  I did. Lola went through the X-ray machine. Security was shocked.  They asked me to take her out of the bag, to check that she was okay, they said that dogs were not supposed to go through the X-ray. They hoped she would be alright. She was.

Lola’s flown to Prince Rupert a lot. Maybe 10 times, maybe one-dozen. She’s been on planes, trains and automobiles- we shared the backseat of my ma’s 1965 Volvo Amazon, in the beginning. In the Yukon I’d bring her to class. She wasn’t supposed to be there, and nobody found out. Lola’s doubled with me on bicycles, horses, and motorcycles- sometimes we’d even be three-up. But she likes the truck rides the most.

That 2020 roadtrip was her first long roadtrip.  Pushing three weeks. She was a champion. So we did it again in the winter, for New Years 2021. We drove up to Fort Nelson in our 1996 Ford F150. On January 3rd 2021, we had to pull over near Powder King. That’s two hours outside of Prince George.  The dog peed on me, wobbly and shaking, with her eyes glitching back and forth. Like a seizure. We let her out. She could not keep her balance. We thought she might die there. 10 degrees below freezing. When there was nothing we could do, we wrapped her in a blanket and aimed to find an emergency vet, it was Sunday night in Prince George. By the time we arrived, the dog was back to normal. Resilience. When we’re strong, it surfaces. At just the right time.

2021. She turned 16. We brought her camping some more.  And in the fall we flew with her to Slovenija, stopping briefly in Turkey to change planes. Did I mention she’s been to the Caribbean? This dog. She’s been all around. She been my copilot for most my life. The older she gets, the more grey she amounts, the more seasoned she becomes, the crazier our adventures. I cherish that. This dog.

Camping ∞ (2021)

We had a place where we would go camping. It’s at the top of a backcountry road. The road washes out and goes no further, and after that its just rock.

Instead of an F250 it was the F150.

And instead of being Easter it was June.

We pitched the tent on the bed of the truck. The day was a Saturday but it felt like Sunday.

We did not check the clocks for Time. The day just floated by and by and by

The campfire in June.

Like Letters after The Road

 

“… so it was. so it went.  we survived the trip; more than that. 12 days of bombing down the highway.. “

 

 

“… and I think that, if, at the end of my life, revealed to me were snapshots, or pictures, or flashbacks of life, I would like to have this, just as it is.”