Ren and the art of Motorcycles

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Computer blues

This is going to be a brief post in the hopes that it will actually make it online before my computer acts up AGAIN!!!! I've tried to write a post several times this week, then my computer decides to shut down, reboot and I lose it all.
Blogger is driving me nuts, too. Anyone got any hints? I have all of my favorite sites bookmarked, but when I have Firefox load them in tabs, frequently the Blogger sites won't reload and I think people haven't posted new items. But....if I hit reload....I'll get all the days inbetween. Should I delete all the cookies on a regular basis? Not load my favorite blogs all at once in tabs? HELP! I will freely admit I "don't know from nothin'" when it comes to HTML and websites.
OK. If this makes it onto Blogger and works, maybe I'll sit down and try to write about my camping memories for the 3rd time.

Wish me luck!

Sunday, August 20, 2006


I like to ride alone. For a woman and a biker, I've been told, that's rather unusual. But I crave quiet and solitude. For me, one of the best ways to satisfy that craving is riding. Just me and my thoughts. Sometimes, not even music through my iPod. I like being alone for time periods. But more, I crave quiet. Perhaps it's a reflection of all the years spent in a hospital, with the constant noise that goes on. I crave quiet. When I am home alone, often the house is TV, no radio, no noise other than the hum of the household appliances.

On the bike, the quiet is different. I can't "space out" and daydream. I have to pay attention to what the bike is saying to me. But the quiet still soothes me. The hum of the engine and the sound of the road are relaxing. There are no demands on me. I don't have to talk to anyone. I can organize my mind and my thoughts.

On one long trip, I was alone for the whole time. I rode when I wanted to, stopped when I wanted to, and spent the nights alone in a hotel room. It was a wonderful break in life. If I wanted human contact, I could make it. But if I wanted to be quiet, I could do that also. It was wonderful to get to know myself again as a person, not as a wife, mother, employee...just as me. Something many people don't take the time to do. I enjoyed it so much, I'm already planning the next trip.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Sometimes Life gets in the Way....

I had a great time at the Ren Faire this past weekend. Shopped, sang bawdy songs, kissed strange men and embarrassed my Childlings. What more can I ask for? I'll go into more detail later, but right now--life is getting in the way. We leave to take Childling #1 to college (freshman year) so I will have to adjust to the emptiness of the second floor. We will be gone for 5 days and I won't be able to blog, so there will be more next week when I return. (And no, I'm not going to take Childling on the motorcycle to college...with all the supplies, there would be no room for another body.) We are all going in a van. But...maybe one day, Mom will ride down to visit Childling on the motorcycle!

Back Next Week!

Friday, August 11, 2006

Why Ren?

Tomorrow I go to my first Renaissance Faire of the season. I've usually gone to at least one by now, but life gets in the way sometimes. Ren Faires are events I look forward to every year.

Why Ren? It's fun, it's fantasy, it's friendly. The first time I went to a faire, I was in "mundane" clothing--shorts and t shirt. I looked in amazement at the costumes and wondered why anyone would want to dress like that. The second time I went, to a different faire, the weather was blazing hot and very humid. Shorts and t shirt were too hot to wear, so I bought my first costume--a cotton top and skirt, with a belt. I was so much cooler! I noticed that people acted differently when I was in costume--the employees interacted with me more, and other fair goers assumed I was a regular.

In the years that have passed, I have purchased many items to accessorize my costumes, which are now legion. Dressing up, I become another person..Maggie Rosethorn, a wench from the 1500's. But, to become Maggie, I have had to read more. I read history so that I understand the time that my faire is set within. I have read things I wouldn't have otherwise--since one faire uses Robin Hood legends, I read Howard Pyle. Since other faires are set during various time periods, I read about life in the 1400's, the 1500's and other eras.

Why Ren? I enjoy the music, the food, the excitement. Watching a tournement, knights battling, Robin Hood and his band protecting the innocent, a living Chess game, I relax and forget modern life and all the work waiting for me at home. It's a short vacation.

Why Ren? It's an excuse to travel. There is at least one Ren Faire in almost every U.S. state. Some states have more than one. The dates are usually staggered to some extent. Some vendors spend their summers going from one faire to another to sell their items. Some people plan their vacations to attend a faire in a different state.

Why Ren? I've met a lot of great people, from all over the country, that I never would have met otherwise. I hear music-- Mediaeval Baebes, The Crimson Pirates, Three Pints Shy--that I wouldn't have discovered otherwise. I laugh, eat, drink (and shop!) and have fun.

Why Ren? Because, most of all, it's fun. And that's the way life should be.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Safety is My Choice

A lot of people look at motorcyclists as rebels. In some instances that is true. But you never know who a motorcyclist is. It may be the kid next door; it may be the 35 year old guy down the street, or the 50 year old woman in the grocery store.

One thing all motorcyclists have in common is the acceptance of risk. Yes, riding is more dangerous to me than driving in a car. I have taken many precautions to make it as low risk as possible but it is an activity, like most in life, that can never be made risk free.

One of the agreements I made with my family when I started riding was to always wear full protective gear. ALWAYS. Sometimes, riding in the hot summer months, I regret that I made that promise. Certainly it would be cooler to ride, as I see others doing, in shorts and a t-shirt, bare hands and sandals on my feet. Fate seems to take care of those thoughts, though. Whenever I start thinking that way, I get hit with a rock thrown up by a passing vehicle, a stinging insect starts buzzing around me, or I see pictures of those who have fallen off the motorcycle without full protective gear on. And, let me say, for those who haven't experienced it--the same rock that cracks your windshield can really hurt when it hits exposed skin...or even skin protected like mine. I have gotten bruises through my gear, had face shields cracked (better the shield than my face) by those rocks.

What is full protective gear? For me, it is a full-face helmet, with the shield down (I hate the feel of the wind on my eyes, even in a convertible car). Riding jacket and riding pants I have a mesh jacket and pants for summertime wear, a fully lined jacket and pants for cooler weather. I don't own a leather jacket and pants because they are too expensive for my budget so I bought gear made specifically for motorcycle riders. I always wear full gloves, and boots that go over my ankle.

Like wearing a seatbelt every time you get in a car, I have gotten to the point where anytime I sit on the motorcycle, even to move it in the garage, I feel "wrong" if I don't have my gear on. Twice my gear has saved my skin, and I have several friends who can say the same thing. As I often point out to those who laugh at me for my jacket and pants in the summer, my skin looks a lot better on me than on the asphalt!

So, the next time you are on the road and see a motorcyclist, wave. Who knows, it might be me, and if I can safely do so, I'll wave back!

Sunday, August 06, 2006


Pregnancy is a very exciting time in a woman's life. Wondering about the little life growing inside you...what the baby looks like at each step of the way. One place NOT to work when pregnant is in a high risk newborn nursery, because you don't wonder what a baby looks like at 18, 20, 25 weeks know all too well what they look like. And you don't wonder what this anomaly looks like, because you know. Learning what one anomaly looked like is how I met unforgettable Rose.

Arriving at work one night during my pregnancy, a normal report was given by the evening shift. I was the charge nurse that night. As the evening nurses departed, happy to be going home, I began to check the empty warmers and isolettes in the NICU area. The admissions nurse checked her cribs under the warmers, knowing there were 4 women in labor, at term, all normal and no known complications.

As we settled down to the night shift routine, we heard the ominous intercom buzz...neonatal emergency in the delivery room. Hurriedly, we prepared for a sick baby, wondering what was going on. We had the warmer set up and the crash cart open when the doors flew open and the labor and delivery nurse ran in with the baby in her arms followed by the house resident on call. The nurse carefully laid the baby down on the warmer and we gathered around...a pink, breathing, term baby....but what is called a "FLK" in hospital speak---funny looking kid. Generally, the term is used when you know something is wrong with a baby but don't know exactly what the specific syndrome/anomaly is. This term, baby girl had a cleft lip and palate, extra and fused fingers and toes, low set ears, slanted eyes, and an odd shaped head.

While the resident called the pediatric attending on call, I went through our admission procedures. The baby was tachypnic (breathing too fast) but otherwise looked stable. On the doctor's orders, I started an IV and checked the baby's blood sugar, which was normal. When the baby's father came in, we were able to tell him physically the baby was fine, but there was something wrong with the baby, and we weren't sure what it was. Later, when the mother came in, she was able to hold and cuddle the baby. The baby remained stable all night long, but we were unable to feed her with the severity of her cleft palate.

Most babies cry at birth, and afterwards, with all the procedures done. Rose never cried, all night long. At the most, she winced when I pricked her heel for some blood tests. Otherwise, she laid in the warmer quietly. When I left her in the morning, I said I'd see her that night (I always talked to the babies I cared for).

That night, I went in and found Rose was gone...transferred to the Big Well Known Children's Hospital for care. She had been stable, but testing during the day had found more things wrong with her internally than were right. Her mother had been discharged that day to go with the baby so no one really knew what was wrong with her.

One month later, I came into work and found Rose was back from the Children's Hospital, to remain with us until she was stable enough, eating well enough, to go home. Her diagnosis was Trisomy 13 and, with her internal problems, she had a life expectancy of 3-4 months. She still was a happy baby...never crying and watching everything with dark alert eyes. She was a joy to care for, even with the sadness of knowing she was going to die. Her parents were with her frequently, learning to care for her, feeding her and loving her. Their first baby, and parenthood was not the joyous happy time they had expected. But Rose brought them joy and they were as happy as they could be given the circumstances.

Rose went home after a week in our hospital. Her parents kept in contact and sent us a letter when Rose died, at 3 months of age. In her letter, her mother commented on what a happy baby Rose always was, smiling, and that she died with a smile on her face.

Rose, and her parents, taught me how parents can cope and love, even when their hearts are breaking. I've never forgotten Rose, or her parents.

Addendum: Two years later, while working in labor and delivery in a different state, I was the nurse when a patient was admitted in labor. Rose's mother and I recognized each other with astonishment and joy, and I remained with them as she delivered a beautiful, healthy baby boy.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

What's in a Name?

When I started reading blogs, I posted comments under my first name. When I started my blog, I thought about continuing to use it, but decided against it for several reasons. So, I had to select a name to use. I decided to use the name I created several years ago (when becoming a Certified Wench) to commemorate some people that I think of often, especially in the late summer.

Maggie honors my great-great-great grandmother. For some reason her good protestant parents named their daughter Magdalene. It wasn't a family name, I discovered while researching our family tree. It just appears out of nowhere and only for that generation. Was she named for a family member lost to time? For a friend? For Mary Magdalene? I have always loved her name but wonder, too, if she liked her name and understood why her parents gave it to her.

Rose honors a baby I cared for back in my nursing days. She was a very special child and I plan on blogging about her story one day soon. I'll always remember this baby. She and her parents taught me many things.

Thorn is for me. I tend to hide my "prickly" side and try not to hurt anyone, but like a wild rose, I have done so.

So...Maggie Rosethorn it is.

(RA asked if I draw blood...not since I got out of the medical field. But back in the day, I was really good at it....grin)

Friday, August 04, 2006

Buying a new Motorcycle

For a woman, especially one as short as I am, 5'2", buying a new motorcycle requires a lot of research and work. I'm also a fairly new rider, as I've been riding for less than 5 years. I tend to be very cautious in riding. I don't try to do wheelies, I have almost never leaned the bike over so far that I have scraped metal parts and I don't weave in and out of traffic.

This is my fourth motorcycle. I have loved all the bikes I owned and learned what I like and dislike from each. My long trips have been to Americade and to Deal's Gap, North Carolina. Now I wanted a new bike. Since I'm commuting 40+ miles round trip daily, I want a bike that I can ride year round. It needs to have a seat low enough that I can get my feet down comfortably, enough voltage power to use a GPS and my Gerbing electric gear, and enough engine power to carry another adult passenger as my children, being in their mid teens, are adult in size.

I began my research with Motorcycle Consumer News. I read their reviews about all the bikes that interested me and created a spreadsheet. Then I went to each bikes' webpage and read what the manufacturer had to say. Then I checked out comments on the internet from owner forums, complaints, anything I could find.

I narrowed my decision down to 4 bikes based on engine power, seat height, and bike weight. I spent a few days going to various dealers and sitting on bikes. One disadvantage to buying a motorcycle is that you usually don't get to test drive them like you can a car. So, unless you have a friend with the bike you are interested in or a dealer is having a test ride day, your only exposure to any motorcycle is sitting on one in a showroom.

I found the bike that fit me, my wants and needs and my budget and bought it...a Suzuki SV650. Then I went into a frenzy buying the accessories I want for the bike ( a new seat, supports for hard luggage bags, wiring for the GPS, a centerstand).

Note to dealers: I was in several dealers alone and also with a male. I found I was often ignored while the man had salesmen all over him. I bought my new motorcycle from the dealer and the salesman who talked to ME, not the person with the XY chromosomes. Several dealers who sold the same motorcycle I bought lost my business thanks to their sales people.

Now, the only thing I have to do is ride. Since my motorcycle is my main mode of commuting, I have already put a lot of miles on it. I love my new bike and I can't wait till I can take my first long trip on it.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Time to take the plunge

Well, after being a lurker and commenter on my favorite blogs for almost a year, I decided to take the plunge for myself and try to become a blogger. I figure summer time is ending, so it's a good time to make a beginning.

The title is NOT misspelled, by the way, but refers to two of my favorite things--Ren Faires and motorcycles. I look forward with glee to my first trip this year to the New York Ren Faire where I will meet several old friends and hopefully make new ones. I also get to buy a new bodice since, as all good certified Wenches know (and I am a card carrying member of the Local 69 of the International Wenches Guild), if you can breathe in it, it's too loose. That's what losing nearly 60 lbs will do for you.

My other favorite outside activity is riding my motorcycles. I've been riding for 4 years now and love it. It's one of the best ways I know to get rid of stress.

I'm going to try to post regularly, but no promises at this point.

Mad dash out to the waiting room--ORAC--congradulations! You are now a proud blog grandfather. Hugs to Dr. A and RA (whom I told earlier today that I don't have a now I've made a lier out of myself already) and I'll be at the next BA meeting with guacamole.