Goodbye Vagabond Harley

Posted in Mixed Nuts on January 5th, 2011 by MadDog
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Sometimes I write more for myself than for my readers. This is one of those times. If you would like to traipse down memory lane with me for a few minutes, then read on. It’s not a story of great importance. It is, instead, a modest metaphor of the changes of seasons which affect all of our lives. Like most of life’s changes it is neither all bad nor all good. It is simply change. I’ll tell the little story in more or less chronological order beginning in April of 2008.

Eunie and I bought the Harley several years earlier because we got a good deal on it and it fulfilled a long standing fantasy. In our first years of marriage I made a very modest living as a motorcycle mechanic and later as a motorcycle repair shop manager. We both had motorcycles and rode nearly daily. Though I worked on a variety of makes, I had never owned a Harley. It was a desire which I kept quiet and locked away. When I expressed it to Eunie a few years ago, she, in her usual practical way said, “Why not. We can’t lose money on a Harley.”

As usual, Eunie’s wisdom turned out to be greater than even I imagined. More about that later. So, in 1998 we bought a nearly new Sportster 883, the largest model which I could pick up if it was on its side. And, it has been on its side a few times.

In 2008, we decided that, since Madang was to be our home for life, we needed to pack up everything which we valued and ship it all home by sea freight. Having these treasured personal items in her home turned out to be a blessing for Eunie for the short time which she had left. They are now somewhat less of a blessing for me, since, with the exception of the Harley, I now have to contend with several hundred kilograms of personal belongings which will someday have to remain in Madang. I have no home to send them to and they mean nothing to anyone but me. That’s the bitter sweet part of the story. The rest is happy by comparison. There’ll be no tears here.

Here I am in all my glory in an ancient silk shirt a few days before we left the house in Brownsburg, Indiana for the last time, headed for Springfield Illinois to pack the crates:

The trip to Springfield was the most miserable motorcycle ride of my life. You can read about it in the link in the previous sentence. I’ll simply say that I cannot remember being so cold in my life. Here I am arriving in Springfield looking as if I’d suddenly gained fifty kilos:

The packing was a tedious chore which would have been far more difficult without the help of Eunie’s Sister, Mary Sexton and her husband, Jim. Here are Eunie at the left and her sister Mary amidst the clutter:

And, here I am with Jim and the partially packed Harley:

This is my beloved wife beaming with satisfaction that all of the material things which she cherished were safely on their way home:

After a rather nervous wait of a few months, the crates arrived in Madang. Here is the crated Harley on it’s way from the harbour to our workshop:

On several occasions I expressed to Eunie that I thought that it might be wiser to sell the Harley in the USA. She was never of a mind to do that for a couple of reasons. First, she believed it was something which would make me happy to have in Madang. She was right, of course. She also told me that selling it in the USA would be a bother and it would probably be worth at least as much here in PNG, if we ever needed to sell it. To her it was like money in the bank, except that you could spend it and still have it. I was always happy to be married to a woman who was smarter than me.

So, we ended up owning the only Harley in Madang:

That is the locally famous Coastwatcher’s Monument.

In the two years or so after its arrival I seldom rode the Harley. The roads here are horrible and steadily getting worse. There are very few places which are safe to ride. Riding alone never interested me, but we have always been blessed by having adventuresome friends, many of whom took an interest in a ride on the rare machine. Here’s Ush Antia 108 kilometres up the North Coast Road at the Tapira Surf Club:

Sadly, it’s not even safe to travel up there any more. The criminal activity in that area makes it too risky for my blood.

Another memorable ride was with Jo Noble to the Balek Wildlife Reserve:

Though I have mixed emotions at present concerning parting with the Harley, I must admit that I have not ridden it once since Eunie’s passing. The lustre has departed from many things in my life.  I debated in my mind whether or not to sell it. While it is true that it was “money in the bank”, it wasn’t money which was in any way contributing to my quality of life. I couldn’t imagine a time while I remain in Madang during which I would get much enjoyment from it.

I dreaded advertising it. I did not want to deal with the minor trauma of parting with it any longer than absolutely necessary. As it turned out, it took only two days. I called an old friend, Ron McKenna, who owns a car dealership and repair garage here in Madang. He is well known for his interest in exotic vehicles. He has restored several 1960’s era vintage Ford Mustangs, a task made considerably more complex, because they must be converted from left hand drive to right hand drive. I called Ron with the offer yesterday. Today he came to the office and bought it on sight.

Here I sit for my last portrait on a machine which gave me great pleasure. Minutes after this image was taken I had my helmet on and was taking my last ride. I blasted down Modilon Road at a terrifying pace. As always, she delivered a thrill. What a sound! There’s nothing else like it:

I know perfectly well that Ron did me a great favour by purchasing the Harley. He certainly doesn’t need it. Ron has had far more than his share of grief in the last few years. He is a sympathetic friend, a commodity with which I am well supplied. Once again, a friend has come to my aid. I will use the money from the sale to help to pay off the last of my debts. It will get me very close to my goal of being debt-free. This means far more to me at this season of life than any occasional pleasure which the Harley could deliver.

Finally, once again I am compelled to acknowledge the wisdom of my dear wife. She told me that we would never lose money on the Harley. In a way it was a gift that we gave to ourselves without cost. This made it somehow priceless. I’m sure that Ron will smile if he reads this. The price in Kina, converted to US Dollars, is nearly the same as we paid for the machine in 1998.

Eunie was right again.

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Weird Light – Dallman Passage

Posted in Under the Sea on January 3rd, 2011 by MadDog
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It’s a new year. I have my work cut out for me. Most of the horribly unpleasant chores which were generated by Eunie’s illness and subsequent death have now been disposed of by a mixture of desperate prayer and grim determination. Some things are improving. I’m marking 2011 as The Year of Rehabilitation.

As one friend recently pointed out to me, 2011 is also the Year of the Rabbit, according to the Chinese Zodiac. I give absolutely no credence to anything vaguely astrological (as opposed to astronomy, in which I am very interested), but sometimes it’s amusing to delve into the ways others view reality. I Googled Year of the Rabbit and came up with this outlandish description of those born under that sign.

People born in the Year of the Rabbit are articulate, talented, and ambitious. They are virtuous, reserved, and have excellent taste. Rabbit people are admired, trusted, and are often financially lucky. They are fond of gossip but are tactful and generally kind. Rabbit people seldom lose their temper. They are clever at business and being conscientious, never back out of a contract. They would make good gamblers for they have the uncanny gift of choosing the right thing. However, they seldom gamble, as they are conservative and wise. They are most compatible with those born in the years of the Sheep, Pig, and Dog.

Well, I’m here to tell you that practically none of that applies to me. I will admit to being vaguely articulate, but ambitious – HAH! I don’t have an ambitious bone in my body. I’m happy to just sail along. It is true that nowadays I seldom lose my temper, but that is mostly because of good training from my wife. Forget about clever at business also, but my word is my bond. It is correct about gambling. I believe that it’s foolish. Whatever wisdom I might have was born of error recognised as such.

So much for astrology.

UPDATE: Before I get a flood of comments, I’ll admit that I completely missed the point of the whole zodiac thing. The year in which I was born, 1943, was the year of the Sheep, according to the Chinese. So, of course, the attributes of those born in the year of the Tiger would have nothing at all to do with me. I haven’t bothered looking up the attributes for those born in the year of the Sheep. I doubt that they would be any more accurate.

However I did appreciate this bit of wishful thinking from another site.

According to Chinese tradition, the Rabbit brings a year in which you can catch your breath and calm your nerves.

I could use some of that, but I don’t need astrology to deliver it. Do I sound as if I’m trashing astrology? No, I’m not. All I’m saying is that it doesn’t fit into my world view. Arguing about world views is someone else’s job.

Good friend Monty Armstrong came over on Thursday afternoon for a dive, along with sweet Meri, Monty’s dear wife. We set into place a new buoy in front of my dock to keep Faded Glory  from drifting off. I very much appreciated this, since the buoy and its heavy chain have been sitting in my lounge room for quite a while. We went to Dallman Passage.  The water was murky and the light was poor. It did, however create some interesting images.

The weird light lent a ghostly appearance to many of the coral colonies:

I’m reasonably sure that this colony is sick. It looks to me as if it’s bleached. Bleaching occurs when something causes the coral polyps which make up the colony to expel the symbiotic protozoa which live in the coral and play a crucial role in its health. You can read more about it in Wikipedia.

The strange light also made this Solitary Coral (Fungia fungites)  glow:

I’ve not seen one of this yellow colour. It may be a natural variation or it may be bleached.

In most of these shots, the background appears very dark. That is because of the high contrast ratio between highly reflective objects and other less reflective ones. It was an unusual condition worth capturing. I was also using a very small aperture (ƒ/8.0) in order to get the greatest depth of field (the maximum amount of the image in focus):

As we descended to twenty metres, the light dropped to practically nothing and I was forced to turn on my flash. In this shot of Sea Squirts (Didemnum molle)  you can see an unnatural rosy glow in the highly reflective white areas:

This shot of an Epaulette Soldierfish (Myripristis kuntee)  is interesting because of the parasitic isopod which has attached itself to the fish’s head:

It is amusing that, in this case, being parasitised might have an advantage. It seems that females are more attracted to males who wear a silly hat. You can read a little more about it here in this post.

The small aperture paid off in this shot, which shows a group of Reticulated Dascyllus (Dascyllys reticulatus)  darting in and out of the protective coral:

With the low light level, a long slow shutter speed was demanded. I think that this shot was taken about about 1/20 second. That’s too slow to stop the motions of the fish, so they look a little blurry. However, if you look at it positively, it does convey a sense of motion.

This week I start a major remodelling job on myself.

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