Starting with the purchase of a Takamine electric-acoustic guitar in January (Christmas present from Dan). I played acoustic guitar in junior high school - I even (voluntarily) performed in a school talent show. My goal was to be able to play Amazing Grace by the time of the Gill family reunion in April; this goal was met, but I must admit that the guitar languished during the summer.
That's because in April, I realized that everywhere I turned, I was seeing motorcycles. So in May, I called Ralph Semprevio (Va. Tech). "Ralph," I said, "I've decided to buy a motorcycle. Which BMW should I buy?" To which he replied, "A BMW is too big for you. Get a little 250 Japanese throw-away bike for the summer." I insisted that I wanted a "real" motorcycle .... and he suggested I look at the F650 with a lowering kit - stock seat height is ~32", my inseam is ~28".
I went to Cascade BMW to check out the F650, where I met Will Anderson, who proved to be a cheerleader and teacher throughout the purchase process and on through my learning routine motorcycle maintenance. It didn't take me long to figure out that I wanted an R65. It's only 650 cc, light (~450 pounds) and an "airhead" (traditional BMW opposing twins, unlike today's R-bikes or the F650).
At a Cascade open house, I learned about WetLeather, a Northwest motorcycle social group with a lively e-mail list. Think about it - the overlap of two aberrant sub-sets of the population, computer-geeks and motorcycle riders! The vertical geography of the group is Vancouver, BC to San Diego (also points east), but most social activities are in Seattle and Portland.
After joining WetLeather, I met Jim Horton, another Boeing employee (a real employee, not a contractor like me), who recognized my name from another listserv, NetTrain. Jim has gotten me involved with Seattle Community Network and has also served as mentor and all-purpose wise man for all things BMW. ["Jim, am I being irrational for holding out for an R65?" "Kathy, there's nothing rational about buying a motorcycle; get what makes you happy."]
Cascade sponsored a Motorcycle Safety Foundation class, which let me and my new friend Mercedes Grajales-Zweigle (relocated from NJ) get into class before fall arrived. Through WetLeather and another listserv, The Short Bikers List, I learned of a 1981 BMW R65 for sale in San Francisco. One also showed up at Cascade; same color, lower mileage, but a list of problems, including storage time outside in the Seattle rain. That prompted an agony of decisionmaking.
"Kathy, you're thinking about this too much," Will said, as I vacilated between the sick bird in the hand and the unseen one down south. "Just buy the bike in SF, you said she wanted to be sure that the bike has a good home." As soon as Tai Day, the BayArea owner, faxed the bike's vitals, including compression check, and my advisors said "looks good," I made her an offer [still sight unseen]. She accepted. I was like a 5-year-old at Christmas!
The bike arrived in Kirkland the Friday of MSF class weekend. Of course, I wanted to ride it before I'd been on a bike in class. Not surprisingly, since I can't get both feet on the ground, I promptly dropped it on my first stop. The following week, Jim, who is also an MSF instructor, rode it to the near-by VoTech college parking lot, and I practiced all the exercises from class. With emphasis on stops. He then rode it home for me. I managed to navigate the hill coming out of my townhouse complex on the first try [an early Sunday morning ride - no cars to speak of - great time for beginners].
I also re-read Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance as well as The Perfect Vehicle and I See By My Outfit, both recommended by Jim Franklin, a WetLeather friend in San Francisco. Highly recommend all three!
Heavy-duty winter/rain gear lets me continue to ride, and I'm constantly amazed at how good I feel on the bike - even if it's just commuting. In fact, car pool access is a very good reason to ride! I believe that the glorious fall we had this year was so that Mercedes and I could get lots of time in before the rain!
Well, what else happened this year?
And I have new neighbors, Sherry Richardson and her niece Melissa; they are both from Georgia, can you believe it?
What's up for 1999?
Dan comes home this month for the first time since Thanksgiving 1997. He's between work in Malaysia and is trying to decide what he wants to do and where he wants to live. We'll be having these discussions in the Bahamas over Christmas, using my parent's timeshare.
Peaches remains fiesty and spry - she's 10 now, hard to believe! She sleeps a bit more - but still wants to devour all the squirrels and cats that wander past her sliding glass door window on the world. She also tried to eat the big dogs on the camping trip - now that was interesting!
As you prepare for 1999, please keep this in mind:
Copyright Kathy E. Gill 1998