Motorcycle Superstitions (& Our Bad Luck)

Motorcycle superstitions have been on my mind recently, now that we’re up and running on the ‘Wing again. I know it’s all woo-woo silly stuff designed to give people an excuse if bad things happen to them for no reason, but… bad things keep happening to us for no reason.

Motorcycle Superstitions: #1 – Road Demons & Gremlins

The idea behind this one is that demons or gremlins lie in wait on the side of the road, and as you ride by, they attach to your bike and cause all kinds of trouble. You need a biker bell to ward them off, as they let go at the sound of ringing. Unfortunately, one can’t buy their own bell as that doesn’t increase your luck at all, so it has to be a gift from someone.

Motorcycle Superstitions: #2 – Don’t Ride a Dead Guy’s Bike

Even if the owner didn’t die on the bike, riding a dead guy’s bike is supposed to be bad luck because wherever he is, you’re on his beloved bike and he’s gonna try to push you off of it. I like to think that not every biker ghost is vindictive and crazy, but who knows?

Why does this matter? Because ever since we got our bike, we’ve had bad luck.

The ‘Wing came to us from a guy in Thunder Bay, who, if I have the story right, bought it off the family of a guy from BC who died and left his bike behind to a bikerless family. Problem #1 — we have a dead guy’s bike. Problem #2 – there is no biker bell.

You might think I’m crazy, but here’s a little rundown of all the problems we’ve had in the year that we’ve owned that bike.

When Matt went to pick it up, he had it all planned out that he’d be able to get home in daylight. The guy we bought it off of wasn’t around his house at the arranged time so Matt got stranded in Thunder Bay for a few hours, then had to ride a brand-new giant bike home in the dark by himself with no cell phone.

Almost immediately after we bought it, the kickstand started to fail. It angled the bike lower and lower and lower until it was really freakin’ heavy to pick up. Matt knocked the whole thing over in the driveway the day after he replaced it.

One hour into our bike trip across Canada, we discovered a nasty right-side oil leak that turned my brown shoe black.

Just outside Schreiber, a bird flew into Matt’s helmet, Fabio-style, in the dark.

I lost two debit cards in five days while riding as a passenger.

Our headlight came loose in Wahnapitae, pointing everywhere but at the road.

We drove through a tornado area without even knowing, and the wind was so intense that it literally ripped my rain pants in half.

Going through the prairies, a trucker flew past us on loose gravel and peppered us with rocks, one of which cracked our running light.

Somewhere in Alberta, we discovered our suspension was set entirely backwards, with the front pressure in the rear and the rear pressure in the front.

The battery died halfway through the trip and Matt had to bum start the bike every time we stopped.

In BC, we magically lost an hour on the highway and flat-out missed our ferry. We had to rush to another terminal to catch the last ferry of the night, then were promptly pulled over by the cops upon our arrival in Nanaimo. On the way back, we drove to one terminal to be informed that they weren’t putting bikes on anymore, and had to rush across the island to, again, barely catch the last ferry of the night.

The bike dropped coming out of a gas station in Abbotsford about five minutes after a guy told us, “Don’t drop that bike.”

Going back through the prairies, our speedometer, odometer and trip meter randomly conked out. Matt had to use the GPS to gauge our speed for the rest of the trip.

About five hours from home, the exhaust straight up fell off the bike. It ended up being busted beyond repair and Matt had to replace it this year.

We can never, ever easily get a hotel when we’re on this bike.

We have run out of gas three times (the last time we finally packed a jerrycan) when we were not expecting to run out of gas, in very inconvenient places to run out of gas.

Our seat broke on our last trip, leaving me with Matt sitting in my lap for an hour on the road.

75% of the time we do long-haul travel, it rains. Not just a bit — I’m talking storms, no visibility, lightning, all the good stuff that can kill you.

I know a lot of this can be contributed to a vintage bike, too-tight travel itineraries, the types of places we go, that kind of thing, but put all together it feels like we’re crawling with gremlins!

I’m hoping our luck improves, but…

Motorcycle Superstitions: #3 – Green Bikes are Bad Luck

Something to do with green bikes being used in wars. Anyway, my new (to me) bike is being painted. Guess what colour it’s going to be?

Save

Blogging for Weddingbee

I’ve been keeping in some exciting news since Family Day (February 20 for you non-Ontarians out there)! Everything is in place now, so I can freely share. I’m Miss Dragon on Weddingbee!

Some of you (most of you) are probably now scratching your heads and wondering what the eff I’m talking about. Allow me to explain.

Back in September I started a separate wedding blog, mainly to keep my ramblings about flowers and dresses and invitations from taking over everything else on this blog. In January, I sent in an application to Weddingbee, which hosts a multitude of bloggers from all over the world who write specifically about planning their weddings, followed by recaps of the wedding itself.

I didn’t tell anyone I applied because I didn’t think I’d get accepted — most of the bloggers are American or European, though there are a few Canadians (but even at that, the Canucks are generally from major centres like Ottawa, Toronto, and Calgary). I did not in a million years think our little backyard shenanigans coming from our middle-of-nowhere town would make the cut!

It took just over four weeks for them to respond and about three weeks in I gave in and told Matt I had applied to be a wedding blogger, namely because the wait was killing me and I had to tell someone. On Family Day we were lazing around in bed and I had just finished explaining a bit more about the site to him when my phone buzzed with the email letting me know I was in! Between then and now they’ve been working on my alias icon (Miss Dragon!) and I’ve been getting my old blog posts updated and properly sourced (I didn’t realize how terrible of an image sourcer I was prior to this!). If you go to the front page of the site my introduction is live, and my actual posts under my name should start up soon.

I’m really excited that my blogging is going to be shown to such a huge audience. I’m also kind of terrified but I’ve been trying to remind myself to just keep doing what I was doing when it was only a handful of people reading my posts.

That being said, if you’re curious and want to read about our wedding, feel free to check it out! The posts going up now will look familiar to anyone who followed along on my old wedding blog but new content will start going up as soon as the archives are finished.

Christmas Tree hunt, 2011

Last year Matt promised me we’d have a tree. I hadn’t had a real Christmas tree since the year before I went away to university and my little three foot fake wasn’t doing it for me anymore. After dropping a bunch of money on tree stuff at Walmart, we headed out to the woods with a saw.

Apparently you’re only legally allowed to cut down your own tree in Ontario if you live north of a certain point. We obviously fall into that range, but I was surprised to learn that Crown land doesn’t count for everyone. The Ministry of Natural Resources encourages people to go into their local MNR office to talk to an officer about where to chop down a tree but we decided we’d just meander around some logging roads until one jumped out at us.

Matt’s duckface (while driving).

I had this idea in my head that we’d set out down the road and find a pretty, perfect tree just hanging out in the woods. In reality, we went quite a ways down three separate roads until we found a tree that’d do. There were a few that we got out and looked at but most of them had defects not visible from the road.

Scoping out the tree situation.

It wasn’t very cold when we left, but with the sun starting to fade, the air became chilly. There was frost on nearly everything.

We finally found our tree, tucked away in a little nook, surrounded by wolf tracks. We only had a small saw and Matt had told me earlier that it’d probably take a long time to hack away at the tree because of that. Turns out he felled it in less than thirty seconds — I didn’t even get the chance to take a picture!

We (or I should say, Matt) strapped it to the roof of the truck and drove back into town. We had to buy a few gift wrapping essentials so we stopped at a store, which was hilarious because as we got out of the truck, with the tree dangling off the roof, we noticed a group filming some kind of music video – now they’re going to have a lovely shot of plaid-wearing, boot-dragging locals with a tree tied to their roof.

Note the utterly fascinated cat (Maggie) staring at the tree. It’s even worse now that its decorated… Marbles can often be found staring at it in wonder from the post, or attacking it from every and any direction, or attempting to climb it.

We got it home and the cats promptly freaked out. We realized that the tree was kind of wonky, but went with it – the decorations we picked out were not Martha Stewart inspired to begin with, so the crazy tree fit right into our plans. Both Matt and I had childhood Christmas trees that were a mish-mash of colours and styles, so when we both looked at the finished product and said it reminded us of home, I figured we did it right.

Excuse the shoddy iPhone photo. I wanted to just grab a picture of it all lit up and didn’t feel like going all the way out to the truck where I left my camera.

By day – see how nothing matches? Also, I will always always splurge for decent garland.

The whole thing actually fell on me in the midst of decorating, which made it all the more wonky as the ornaments and garland shifted. We tied it up with fishing line and I’m hoping it stays upright until the end of the holidays. The cats, particularly Marbles, aren’t helping, as all they see is dangly things, bouncy branches, and a challenge. Marbles has decimated two candy canes thus far and Maggie has a fascination with one particular branch. Murphy is staying away for now but I think he probably learned a bit about not messing with Christmas trees from my Grandma.

I sent a picture to my parents and my mom wrote back immediately identifying it as a jack pine top. Guess she knows her trees better than I do!

Here’s a few of our ‘special’ ornaments:

I decided we’ll put a photo ornament up every year – I can’t find last year’s, an assortment of pictures of us, but this year’s is from when we visited Nanaimo.

Our motorcycle Santa, for obvious reasons. It also reminds me of my Uncle Dickie, who played Santa during every Christmas we had at my Grandma’s house. I’m sending the same ornament down to Orangeville with our Christmas card (surprise, family who may be reading!)

It’s me!

Matt wanted these two – a mushroom and an angel. No idea what the symbolism is but I told him to pick out a few ornaments he liked. Now that we have all the plain but colourful ones, we can just stick to buying a few fancy ones every year, I think – so long as the cats don’t destroy all the basic ones in the meantime…

Finally, the MEOW ornament, hung nice and low for the cats to bat at.

I bought waaaay too much wrapping paper. I guess I’m used to wrapping giant presents but everything is pretty small this year. I thought I’d splurge on nice paper (the blue paper is foil and the purple is  flocked velvet) but it may have been a bad idea because a) tape is totally visible on it, even the so-called invisible tape and b) nothing sticks to it, bows or tags, without tape. I can’t even do my usual tactic of covering the errors with ribbon because it takes 100 layers of tape to stick the ribbon on and as I said, you can see the tape. So once again, Martha Stewart I am not. Hopefully everyone has low expectations for wrapping.

It’s nice to have a tree in our house! That’s one aspect of Christmas I can fully enjoy, except for when I think about having to take it down and put all the ornaments in storage.

Reflections on a Repatriation: Remembrance Day

I spent two years of my life in Belleville, Ontario, during college. Belleville is not far from Trenton, home to a major Royal Canadian Air Force base. CFB Trenton is the hub for Canadian military air travel, and it’s where the repatriation of Canadian soldiers killed in the line of duty takes place.

During school, a friend and classmate was eager to go to a repatriation. They’re usually heavily attended and as photojournalism students it seemed like an important opportunity. We got there to find out that the repat had been rescheduled, so we had to leave and come back again. The second time around it was obvious what was taking place. Hundreds of people lined the chain-link fence between the highway and the base, with Canadian flags stuck in the links and held in people’s hands.

I started paying attention to the people around me. There was a boyscout troop, women and men of all ages, a couple from out of town who made a special trip out to Trenton, and, right before the plane landed, a huge crew of bikers pulled up.

I remember the day in bits and pieces. I remember the female RCAF officer who said she was always happy to see so many people turn out to repatriations. I remember the plane landing so quietly I didn’t even realize it had touched the tarmac. I remember watching the soldier’s family and trying to fathom what it could possibly feel like to be in that situation. I remember consciously choosing to not press my shutter down anymore, to not break the silence of what felt like a sacred moment.

I didn’t go to another repatriation after that. For me, it felt too personal, like I was intruding. I would have rather been there just as Shayla, not as Shayla-with-a-camera. I guess that’s one of my journalistic failings.

Today, Matt and I drove out to the small town near us, which has been amalgamated into our town. They had a small, simple Remembrance Day ceremony, honouring their twelve soldiers who lost their lives due to war. The oldest veteran in town, age 92, was in attendance, along with the small handful of other vets still keeping the cenotaph clean and in repair and keeping the Legion running.

After, we sat down for lunch, graciously invited by the community. We shared the company of wonderful people who provided us with their hospitality. To me, the camaraderie shared by that small town is the best reminder of what Remembrance Day is all about. Because so many people fought for our country, for our freedom, we’re now able to sit, side by side, and enjoy fellowship in peace.

Trying to Pee in Snowpants and Snowshoes

Snowshoe

A word to the wise: snowshoe bindings are more delicate than they seem.

Saturday we decided to try to find the waterfall our neighbour directed us to a few months ago. Last time, we left too late and it got dark way before we made it back to the truck, leaving us frantically snowshoeing in the dark. This time, we pre-planned. We woke up early, packed food, supplies and extra socks, posted our whereabouts on Facebook, and were all set for a good time.

I have to interject with the fact that all my life I’ve been reluctant to pee outside. Even when I was a kid, I was the one scouting out roadside gas stations and restaurants so my father couldn’t make me pee on the side of the road. Unfortunately, if you’re going to take on an outdoor activity, you have to stay hydrated. Before we even had our snowpants on, parked at the beginning of the trail, I had to pee.

Matt went through the motions of trying to adjust the truck so I could do my business hidden from the road, but I outright refused to drop trou ten feet away from the highway. My plan was to hike out into the woods, safe from the prying eyes of passing traffic, once my snowshoes were on. Except, once my snowshoes were on, I took three steps out into the snow, sunk two feet into the powder with all of my weight on my toes, and promptly found my face nearly planted in the drift.

If you’ve never worn traditional snowshoes, let me tell you that getting up from a fall is difficult. It’s even more difficult when you’re on a steep downhill like I was. It took me at least a minute to right myself. I tried trundling out into the woods again but the super-deep snow was making it incredibly difficult so I waited for Matt to get ahead and break trail. I spotted a private dip in the woods and started on my way, periodically sinking in and having to hoist my feet out from under the weight of the snow.

Another fun fact about snowshoes: it’s really hard to execute sharp turns, so turning around completely is quite the procedure. If that’s hard, then backing up is probably the most difficult manoeuvre. That’s how I found myself stuck, feet all over the place, toilet paper in hand, snowpants still zipped and buttoned. After a few minutes of shuffling around, only to find myself backwards and further away from where I wanted to be, I got mad and undid my snowshoes.

With one step, I was up to my knees in snow.

Peeing outside is difficult to begin with. Now I know how difficult it is when one is half-mired in snow, in -20C temperatures (with wind). By the time I got my shoes back on and lumbered over to where I had left Matt, I realized he wasn’t moving at all.

Peeing outside is difficult to begin with let alone when one is half-mired in snow, in -20C. Click To Tweet

“I broke my harness,” he said, and with that, we carefully exited back out the trail, took off the snowshoes, packed up the truck, and ate our lunch on the drive home. At least the harness broke within walking distance to the truck. But if I had known his harness was broken the whole time I was trying to arrange myself in the woods… I really could’ve just waited, you know?