It's hell to get old. A familiar utterance from my father for as long as I can remember but until recently I didn't fully appreciate it's meaning. Over the last two weeks I've worked through real and imagined ghosts of aging.
Stood for awhile in the studio today staring at the camera LCD wondering who this guy is. Self-portraits often reveal uncomfortable things. They're not for anyone who likes to avoid the truth. The recent ER visit may have been the wake up call but I hadn't realized how far down the scale I might have fallen.
And just so you don't think I spend my days at work taking pictures of myself I was working out photographic style issues for a new marketing campaign. I was just a convenient test model.
Opened my eyes on Sunday morning and peered out the window -- fog. No long walk on this morning. Fleeting, vaporous, no time to spare when an enchanted landscape appears like Brigadoon emerging from the mist.
Fast shower, dog out just long enough for morning responsibilities and I'm off on the Vespa seeking the quintessential magic image. I've been chasing it for years. My blue butterfly.
Less than a mile from home I realize the fog has already moved off leaving just a gray calmness over the morning. Abigail, the M4 Sherman tank in the picture, is similar to the ones in a photo album of my father's recording his time in the United States Third Army in the 1940s. I see his ghost when I look in the mirror and feel the biological clock ticking, reminding me that I have choices to make.
In the past two weeks I've lost 24 pounds. Fueled by stress, medication and the flu it rendered my less than finely tuned body into what I can only describe as a frail, muddled organism. A stoic denial of sodium in response to my blood pressure spikes I was so thorough that my arms and legs seemed to constantly be cramping. Only some insistent advice from loved ones and friends was able to penetrate my hard head and adjust my diet. The same hardheadedness that makes it possible for me to ride through the winter also makes it difficult to see the light shining.
I had to cancel my place in the MSF Experienced Rider Course. I was weak and didn't believe I could withstand the seven hours in the sun. So much of me wanted to ignore all the data and go anyway.
Riding frequency declined for a number of reasons including the sudden necessity to replace our vehicles. Bad, bad planning and requiring an amazing amount of time and effort. So when I was able to ride it was mesmerizing. Every possible good feeling and nerve end tingling greeted me. It was good to be home.
Standing along Spring Creek and listening to the water sing almost made me cry. I don't know why I've been so lucky in life. Or given so many chances to succeed.
Riding has a calming effect. Or so I tell myself when I watch my blood pressure numbers decline to their normal levels. The past week they have pumped steady between 110/65 and 125/75, the range they have been for the past 50 years.
As the early morning wanes I head back to town and cut across campus towards my weekly meeting at Saint's Cafe. The streets are empty as I ride beneath the last remaining elm tunnels.
All the magic is gone when the sun is out. Any chance of depicting Gordon as some sort of character out of a Harry Potter story is impossible in this light. I'm thinking sodium at this point and what I can eat to give myself a bit of salt.
Mushroom and bell pepper quiche. Vespa rider fare. With much encouragement and advice I've moderated my stoic diet. Weight loss has ceased and I feel good again. The results from a battery of tests still linger in the future when I see my doctor later this week. Until then I'll continue to do what I'm doing.
Heavy skies were forming in the west when I departed Saint's and by the time I got to Lemont I felt it wise to stop for a few minutes at the cafe and let the storm pass. And a good excuse for tea and a cookie. My first in a long time.
A cool breeze blows across the porch, delicate ringing from small bell chimes fills the air as every suggestion of the heat from just a few minutes earlier is washed away. As the first drops of rain begin to fall I know I could stand here all day.
In minutes a steady, hard rain makes me smile that I've made a good decision. Similar decisions loom down the road in regard to diet, stress and exercise. What, me worry?
My father used to tell me I reminded him of Alfred E. Neuman. Must have been the ears.
The rain passes and I make my way towards home. The road stretches ahead and I don't know what's around the bend. I can guess but mostly it's paying attention to what happens next. For now I'm ok. Or so it seems.
The business of living is moving along. A new Honda Fit Sport has replaced our old VW Jetta. My Ford Ranger will make it's debut on eBay later this week with a Honda Odyssey van taking it's spot in the driveway.
I've had no aspiration to be a minivan driver but years of all season Vespa riding has tempered me for the task ahead.
And my apologies for all of you still waiting for me to post my review of the BMW K1600 GTL. And to make matters more daunting I also have to write reviews of the Ducati Diavel that Craig Kissell and I took a ride on. The Ducati Multistrada and a second time out on the BMW 1200 RT.
Plodding wins the race. Look for more soon.
And thank you to everyone for your kind regards and support. I do appreciate it.