New license! New bike!

Yesterday I picked up my new motorcycle-endorsed temporary drivers license. Exciting but a little scary. It would now be legal for me to get on Todd’s R1 and take off. (At 190hp it can go 90mph in 1st gear). In reality I am only qualified thus far to ride a bike with 20hp at 15mph in a parking lot under supervision. Either way, I bought my bike within 5 minutes of picking up my license. [Smile]. I don’t have any bike prejudices. I like all different types: classic, cruisers, sport bikes, touring bikes, dirt bikes, choppers. I have respect for all of them (except the one I trained on). But for me, for now, I decided on the FZ6R. I picked a bright white one so I’d be obvious in traffic. The photos don’t do the pearly white any justice but… here she is…

Now all I need is a sticker that says ‘Student Driver’. Hehe. Maybe this will be me someday…


(Heh. Just kidding, Dad). I think I have a ways to go…

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Motorcycle Operator Safety Training

I am stunned. I just finished a motorcycle safety course and passed the license exams. The first day was… well, not ‘difficult’ but…. complicated. If they had sat me on the bike and said pull this in and turn the bike on, no problem. But just sitting on the bike was explained in seven steps. SEVEN. I am not kidding:

1. Reach across your bike with your right hand
2. Squeeze the front brake
3. Swing your leg over the bike
4. Sit down
5. Stand the bike up
6. Straighten the handle bars
7. Put the kick stand up

The words makes it sound like a huge undertaking. It is like explaining in detail how to do a cartwheel. 
Put your left foot at a 45 degree angle with your toes facing outward away from your right foot. Raise both of your arms over your head. With your right foot take one step in the direction of the cartwheel. Turn your hands at a 90 degree angle in the opposite direction of your left foot. Quickly lean forward, twisting your upper body to the left, and place only your right hand on the ground…

And that was just the explanation of how to get on the bike. By the end of the day they were explaining the steps involved in up-shifts, down-shifts, and u-turns and counter-steering. Aaack! My head almost exploded.

But the second day those things were already starting to become second nature. I don’t really think it is a bad thing to dissect all that stuff at first and maybe even review it periodically. I am sure it is like any sport where you start forming what will be your habits right off the bat – good or bad. Instincts are great but it is a lot better when the foundation is skill. (def: skill is the learned capacity to carry out the best results with the minimum outlay of time and energy). I want to build the kind of habits I won’t have to try to break later on.

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Happy 90th Birthday Grandma!

”Rose’s Roses” – by Karen Ramirez

Grandma, for your 90th birthday I wanted to give you something to brighten up your room a little bit. Something that would remind you everyday that there are many people in your life that you inspire – people who love you and think of you all the time even though they can’t always be with you.

I started with 5 colors: red, yellow, green, white, and black and a blank canvas.

I found a time lapse on YouTube to mimic and started with the background. Then I added the first rose…

background 2DSC03865

…then a second… then a third…and finally put on a few finishing touches…


…until I finally ended up with a painting for your room. “Rose’s Roses”.


Thank you so much for inspiring me to always want to be a better person. You are always with me and always will be even when you are not there in person. I love you very much. – Karen

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Camping in Grand Lake

Last weekend our friend Krista surprised her husband Chris for his birthday by secretly inviting everyone to join them on their a camping trip to Winding River Resort by Grand Lake. Here is what we did!


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Toronto stories

It is easy to describe where we went and what we did and to share a few photos. It is more difficult to capture the mood, the moments, and all the silliness. Most of the time ‘you had to be there’. But it doesn’t hurt to try…

bad_singer#1 One night we sat down to play cards. Sue put on some background music – one of her favorite singers. To put it kindly – not everyone was impressed. My Aunt Jeannie sat down, paused, and then abruptly stood back up, ‘I’m changing this’. It even made Sue giggle but she protested, ‘You guys, she’s gooood… And she’s dead.’ The woman continued to wail as Mark shook his head at Sue and said “This is… baaaad.” Sue couldn’t help but laugh with the rest of us but still defended the bellowing woman, ‘This is one of her best songs… She is one of my favorites… She’s dead…’ Anne quickly replied, ‘Was this right before she died?’

kid_hates_veggies#2 My aunt Jeannie (a phenomenal cook, btw) made ribs for dinner. She also made a very special vegetable called rapini. It looks like broccoli but if you expect broccoli you are in for a big surprise – like expecting celery when eating raw rhubarb. The Italians in the family love it. Aunt Terese and Judy ate a plateful. Anne and I tolerated it okay. The others had a different reaction. Mark and Todd made subtle faces at each other until finally Mark not-so-discreetly covered it up with rib bones one by one. But the best reaction was Sue’s. She didn’t say a word or make a face or react in any way. The next morning we were walking Jesse through the forest. The weather was gorgeous. The birds were singing. The squirrels were playing. We were enjoying the quiet of nature when suddenly out of nowhere Sue says ‘Those vegetables aren’t allowed in the house anymore.’ Hahaha!

niagara#3 At the end of our vacation we visited Niagara Falls. Someone had the bright idea of seeing the IMAX… First of all, after purchasing our tickets Sue found discount coupons in the lobby. The girl at the counter said, ‘Sorry. You already bought your tickets.’ What a dirty trick! But we found out why they pinch pennies. The theater was empty and old and dilapidated inside. The sound was so loud it made the entire screen shake violently. But not even the footage shot by helicopters flying up and down the falls was as nauseating as the movie itself. I bet it was impressive when it first aired… IN 1986! The same movie for 26 years! Awful re-enactments of daredevils going over the falls. Those actors would be rejected by a backyard Renaissance Festival. The movie was a prime candidate for Mystery Science Theater 3000. I don’t know how we managed to hold back the groans scene after ridiculous scene. But the best part was at the end. A live girl came into the theater with a microphone to announce to the empty theater that we could buy a copy of the movie in the lobby!


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Our Trip to Toronto

We just returned from a visit to Oakville just southwest of Toronto. Here is what we did!

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Wish me luck!

Surgery is first thing tomorrow! Not sure when I will post again but hopefully soon! I have had a few people tell me it only takes a few days before you are at least halfway functional again. And one said she has a picture of herself answering email the same night! (Ashley, you’re crazy!) I hope that will be me too! Wish me luck!

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Building a school in Kenya

The second inspiring story I just heard…

My former boss said that after I spoke so enthusiastically about Honduras she suddenly felt inspired to go to Kenya to build a school! Here are a few photos she sent to us. Great work, Paula!

The children gather in front of their new school.

Community leaders inspect the school toilets. Look at that smile! Oh, the things we take for granted!

The elders bless the new classroom before learning begins

Class is in session.

Questions? Look how eager they are to learn!

A song for the guests.

If you ever find an opportunity in your life to do anything like this I highly recommend being wild and spontaneous and just going for it. It will have a profound impact on your life, your perception of the world, and most importantly on the people you are able to help.

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The woman on the ship

I heard two amazing and inspiring stories this week. First…

afghan_children_poorMy cousin Andrea is on a Semester at Sea. She met an elderly woman who had saved money for five years to make the trip with her husband and deliver crafts to underprivileged children around the world. She asked Andrea to deliver a few items in Brazil. But Andrea asked why she doesn’t delivering them herself? She replied that her husband had died a few months ago and she was living off his pension. She couldn’t afford to make the whole trip and would not get to see the children in person.

Andrea was so upset by this story she talked to the Dean of Students and purchased the trips into the cities for the woman so that she will now be able to deliver the gifts in person. Not only that but they started a fund raiser for other lifelong learners on their ship to allow them to visit more cities around the world as well. What an impact such a small gesture will make on the lives of that woman and the others on the trip as well as the children that get to meet her! So proud of you Andrea!

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Results are in…

armAs it turns out, according to my MRI, I am hurt. I have about a 70% tear in a tendon that runs across the front of my shoulder, a few bone spurs, and possibly (but hopefully not) a minor rotator cuff tear. I don’t consider it bad news. Bad news would have been the doctor telling me I am NOT hurt. Umm, then what… In this case they know what is wrong and can fix it so it won’t hurt anymore. Great! Sign me up!

I’m not waiting. Surgery is scheduled for Monday. Like I said earlier, I’d rather just jump off the cliff than stand on the edge staring down at the water. The surgery is pretty minor, not very invasive and recovery time will depend on what else they find wrong in there. Anywhere from 2-6 months. This dumb shoulder has been giving me trouble off and on for 5 or 6 years so a few months is nothing if it stops hurting at the end. If anything, congratulations are in order. Smile

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