Saturday, May 05, 2012

Go Ye

Hither, if you want to keep reading. Aspiring to Simplicity has moved! :)

Wednesday, March 07, 2012

New Home

Ok; it's still a work in progress, but I'm building a new home.

What do you think?

Look for me there, in the future. :)

Thursday, February 23, 2012

No Guts

That would be me.

Are you surprised? A lot of people seem to be, when I admit what a total wimp I am in one unlikely area.

Generally speaking, I love a good debate. I will debate organic vs. conventional agriculture, the wisdom and sustainability of petroleum-based farming (though I'm not a peak-oil type), the proper diet for cattle and ultimately, people. I will go toe-to-toe (partly in an effort to learn) with an honest vegan, and talk about the fascinating opportunities for symbiotic farming, where cattle + chickens = lush pasture. I've seen it done, I've read all the books, I've journaled my plans...

But I haven't done it yet. Not really; not enough. I might believe things, I might know things, but I don't have the resumé to prove that I've put it to the test.

Stand me out in my weedy field, with the unfinished irrigation efforts and bring a farmer. Someone with boots and a hat. Have him ask me if he could lease my field...

I have about as much conviction as a bowl of Red #40 jello. I mumble plans about a rotational grazing plan with daily paddock moves.. our new 3hp pump which we haven't had a chance to really put to use yet..

He says things like, "needs to be farmed," and "need at least 25 hp pump to irrigate that," and "are your steers vaccinated?"

I nod and smile and do my best to be non-confrontational. And I sound like an idiot. "Twenty-five horse? Wow, someone told me..." "No, we haven't vaccinated our steers yet."

He has the tractors, implements, pipe.. He wants pasture or hay field. Why can't I just speak my heart? I could write  my heart, but good ol' farmers have cell phones, NOT email. Maybe I should print a pamphlet. "Sir, I would love nothing more for this field to be farmed. I want to do some of that myself, but obviously it's a lot to manage, and I'm not sure how I'm going to do it. However, I have some pretty deep convictions that aren't very popular around here, and that might be a deal-breaker for you. See, this land hasn't had chemical treatments (fertilizers or -cides) in at least 20 years. I don't want that to change. I'm interested in increasing forage and soil fertility through the use of rotational grazing, diversified species, things like that. I worm my cattle with Basic H, NOT ivomectrin. If this sounds like something that could work for you, that you're interested in talking about, we might be able to work together. But these are things I can't compromise on."

See? That flows from my keyboard without a hitch. But in person it sounds like, "uh, um, yeah, well, maybe, I'll think about it." With such a glaring lack of real-life experience, how can I say that to someone whose expertise is in this area? Too, what kind of a person could just say to a new acquaintance, "I just don't believe in doing things the way you do." [to be fair, he didn't mention fertilizer or pesticides, though others have]

There must be a happy medium, where I could state my boundaries without feeling like I'm attacking the personhood of the listener.

Seriously, I disgust myself.

Maybe I could write him a letter.

Saturday, February 04, 2012

Granny's Treasures II

This is another treasure I found at Granny's. It's an old cigar box (and yes, that's my new old table it's on).

When it's opened, it still has (I assume) the original pricetag and brand label. I just love the vintage art. Do you suppose that girl represents the '40s? Was it 'vintage art' when it was made, or do you think this was a modern look? I don't know how old the box is, really. 

It held another treasure inside though. A little old American flag.

You can tell it's old, because Alaska and Hawaii don't have stars on it. :) We have a large one like this that Gigi flew on our house every flag-related holiday when I was younger.

I think I like "things" too much. I would have a very hard time parting with things like this. Partly because they were from Granny's, so remind me of her; partly because they're fairly 'irreplaceable' and feel like a link to a history of which I wish I knew more. I need to think up some good, practical uses for these things to justify keeping them. :)

Thursday, February 02, 2012

His Goodness 3

It had been 5 or 6 years since the motorcycle was sold away. Grandpa passed away in the fall of 2008, his estate going the way of the bike. :]  Last fall, September 29 I think, we were on the way to Hubby's folks' to borrow their truck for a trip that required a trailer hitch. Going along a residential street in the dark, Hubby hit the brakes momentarily and said, "did you see that???" 

"See what?" 

"That motorcycle back there? I think it was a Goldwing like your Grandpa's!"

"What, really? Go back!" We backed up in the rain, and Hubby peered through the windshield.

"I don't believe it. It IS your grandpa's bike." He pointed out the fog lamp, the horns exactly where he'd placed them. I jumped out to go write down the for-sale information (it was for sale!) and about passed out cold on the guy's driveway. He wanted $3100 for it. THAT wasn't going to happen, and was it really the same motorcycle? It was pretty dark, after all.

We were also getting ready to leave town for a week, so who knew what would happen in the meantime? Hubby wondered if I would be on board with a purchase like that (if the price could be negotiated WAY down).. I asked if he would be on board with selling his Kawi to finance the purchase. He was. We left it in God's hands, trusting that if we were meant to have it, we would.

We left town and talked about it more than once. We told Gi-gi about it, and my uncle. When we came back to town, I saw it listed on craigslist for $2900. The guy was flexible, apparently. I called and asked about it. He went on and on... "It's a classic. The original Goldwing. It's been garaged its whole life. Original  paint." We arranged to go see it that evening, and I printed out blue book information and such. That wasn't much help; some claimed a $900 trade-in value; ebay had listings for $10,000. It was obviously a borderline collector's item. I raided my 'barn stash' and prayed. I withdrew a certain amount (far less than either of his asking prices), trusting that IF we were supposed to have it, it would be at that price or less. It was still a lot of money.

On the way there, I arranged some 'code' for Hubby and I. While I wanted to shout, "I think this is my grandpa's motorcycle which was promised to us!" I'd been advised to hold my cards close. I would ask Hubby, "Is it everything you expected?" And if he was 100% certain about it being THE bike, he'd say "yeah." Otherwise, "I'm not sure." 

We were quite a team, actually. Hubby did all the looking, checking; I held my clipboard and waited for my turn. The guy started again on his speel (he is a local public educator) "this is the first year they made Goldwings," and was surprised when my husband eventually asked if it still had the removable kick-starter. 

[When grandpa retrieved the bike from us, the kick-starter had been removed and put somewhere. Hubby returned it to him that summer, but it never made it back to its place. Hubby ran across it in Gramps' garage after he passed away. He didn't save it, sadly.]

"Oh this has an electric starter, no kick starter." Hubby leaned over the bike and pointed to some little hole. 

"Yeah, but no one trusted electric starters so they had the kick start option. The kick-starter is stored in the console, and you can put it in here."

This lessened the wind in the seller's sails. "Oh... I guess you know a little more about this bike than I do!"

[You have no idea...]

I asked Hubby our predetermined question, and he responded in the affirmative.

The seller repeated the line about it being 'in the garage' its whole life.

[Except for the time when we had to cut a tree out of the front forks...]

"Have YOU owned it its entire life?" <-- that was me.

"No, uh, but you can tell. I've had it a couple years. [Title said 1 year]. Original paint, blah blah blah." He spoke of adding on the fairing [You did not. My grandpa put that on when he first got it.]

It did have some fabric saddlebags and a tall bag behind the sissy bar that were new to us. He kept talking about how valuable those additions were. We really only wanted to take home the bike.

After Hubby did the looking-over part, I stepped forward in all my nerdy, clipboard-carrying glory. We started the negotiating, both of us pointing out different reasons for value, or not. He would come down a bit, and I would creep up a tinier bit. Eventually I landed on my high-end number, while he made dagger-to-the-heart motions and tried to get choked up. We had removed the saddle baggage [ah, now it looks right] and he agreed to the price. 

I was so excited. 

I don't even ride motorcycles.

But it felt like a promise fulfilled; not by the faulty, fallen people (person) who made it, but by my Father, God, who sees and knows. And does not forget. 

Home, where it belongs. 


Eventually Hubby told me about finding the kick-starter in Gramps' garage, but tossing it. The old weld Grandpa had put on the rear rack was still in need of repair (the saddlebag straps had hidden it for a time), but someone had replaced the windshield part of the fairing. I shared this story of God's goodness everywhere, even the DMV when I got the title work done. I asked the lady a few things, and she confirmed that the bike had been held 30 years by my grandpa, briefly by my cousin, then it transferred to someone in Town before going to the educator who sold it to us. Hubby has already done something to it (carburetor stuff?) and a few other plans. We plan to sell the Kawi this spring to rebuild the barn fund. :) 

Wednesday, February 01, 2012

His Goodness 2

We waited... And patiently waited. We didn't want to seem greedy, so I never asked Gramps directly about it, though we talked about it often. Several months later, while visiting Gigi, Hubby decided to go visit Gramps on his own, and find out about the bike. 

He came back some time later looking like he had been gut-punched, or was about to be sick. "What happened?" I asked...

Gramps had sold the bike to his nephew. "No.... He wouldn't do that. He promised it to us!" I felt completely used. I'd been willing to let my husband spend all winter in the garage... and now that was all lost to us. Would my cousin (once removed) sell it to us if he knew the story? If he knew Hubby had done all the fixing up? Gramps' story to Hubby was that his nephew "made an offer I couldn't refuse" so we didn't have much hope of getting it, if that was the case. I made a long-distance call from Gigi's to my uncle, to tell him what Grandpa had done, and ask him what he thought we could do.

He had known of the sale, but had no idea we hadn't signed off on it. He thought we'd been consulted. He called his cousin to see what the status might be of the bike's salability, and we got further bad news.  Our cousin claimed to never really want it (he already had a motorcycle or three that he liked), so sold it shortly after buying it. The bike was long gone.

The only information we had was that he'd sold it to "Some Guy" in the Town near us, where I do my shopping and errands.

 To soften the blow, my uncle (who often buys and sells myriad motorcycles) offered to sell us at a good price (still 4 times the Goldwing, but we had saved up...) an '89 Kawasaki Police Special. It had a BIG cushy seat, though they'd removed the police radio, sirens and flashing lights (darnit). He rode it several hundred miles to deliver it to us, and Hubby had his road bike, if not the one he'd put his heart into. 

It was a NICE bike too (so I hear). Sturdy side and rear boxes for hauling things, a smooth ride, and EVERYONE always drove super-carefully when he was in the vicinity.. :) It wasn't the Goldwing, but it was a better bike in all ways but sentimentality. Grandpa's Goldwing was relegated to the halls of memory.

But God has access to those halls too...

To be continued...

Monday, January 30, 2012

His Goodness 1

All my good stories start out with "once upon a time..." This one is no different, I suppose. :) Once upon a time, before I was born, my grandpa bought a brand-new motorcycle. It was the original Honda Goldwing, which set the bar (defined a new genre?) for all forthcoming "touring" motorcycles. It was 1975, and it came in two colors: cherry and teal. He got the teal one.

He and Gigi toured all over the place. Roadtrips to visit relatives, scenic trips to the mountains or coast, camping or bunking with others... One night the fog was so thick they couldn't see any of the freeway except for the white line along the shoulder. They inadvertently took a rural exit, and didn't realize that until they were very lost! 

Fast forward to 2005/6ish. Grandpa had divorced Gigi more than 15 years before, and was living five blocks away from her. His subsequent wife had passed away, and that same Goldwing that he gave my brother and I rides on was rotting away in his backyard. It was leaning (lying?) over and a large shrub or small tree had grown up through the front forks. It hadn't run in ages, but Hubby laid eyes on it one afternoon when we were visiting, and he and Gramps made a deal.

Hubby would come back with his pickup one day and carry the bike 2 hours to our place where he would work on it over the winter and try to get it running again. Gramps would pay for the parts and supplies, and would then take one more ride on it, to say goodbye. When he was ready, he would sell it back to us for the total price of all the parts. He would win; getting a beautiful old bike roadworthy again, getting to take one last ride if his replaced hip held out, and we would win; getting a chance at a lovely motorcycle (which Hubby wanted so dearly), an 'heirloom' of sorts, and at a great price.

Well, that winter Hubby worked on it. I kept Gramps supplied with letters and updates, and he'd send $100 checks so we could pay for the next needed part. Hubby changed out fork seals and cleaned out the old gas and replaced wires and tubes and parts and things I don't understand at all. He added the horns that Gramps had never installed, and left the 'fog lamp' - what was actually an old aircraft landing light - where Gramps had put it on the fairing.

Spring came, and the bike was running. Hubby 'test drove' it to work and back several times, and soon Gramps - and my uncle and some others - came to retrieve it. We watched with bated breath while Gramps got on and rode out the driveway alongside my uncle. "Well, now we wait!" we thought. My uncle intimated that he'd be surprised if Gramps could ride it at all, let alone all the way home, and that we should expect to hear from him soon. We'd saved up some money...

To be continued...