Weekly Photo Challenge: Blue

After posting about the Air Show at the Maguire Air Force base this weekend, “blue” was an obvious choice.

These pictures were worth the back breaking effort as I strained backwards to take shots of impressive planes that whizzed by with speed and precision.  It was often hard to capture altogether, particularly when we were unaware of when the planes would appear and out of what direction.

I only wish I could capture the sound of the planes to complete the sensation of these shots.  I suppose that is what video is for, however, my videos would be accompanied by sounds of frustration equal to the plane noise as I tried to capture all I could with zoom and focus.  These videos would leave you more annoyed than blue, so pictures, take it away.

Enjoy “blue”.

Why Motorcyclists Are Awesome

Do you know anyone who rides a motorcycle?  I mean, a real motorcycle, not a crotch-rocket or moped, no offense.  I’m talking about an American, loud piped, chromed beauty on two wheels.  I grew up riding on the back of my Dad’s bike, starting a lot younger than I should have and I still get a smile when I hear the pipes roar down the road.

There was something calming about the vibration of the motor and the wind against my face.  I used to fall asleep as a child on the back of the bike, which looking back seems pretty dangerous.  On more than one occasion, Dad felt dead weight on the back and had to pull over to secure me to the seat.  Actually, that is really dangerous, isn’t it?  No wonder my Grandmoms hated seeing me pull up on the back of the bike with that big goofy helmet and my little jean Harley jacket.

Bikers are more than meets the eye.  The do more than rock a leather vest and chaps, which no one else can do.  Maybe a cowboy can do chaps, but I’m tempted to believe they come from the same breed of people; gruff and strong.  From my experience, they come from blue collar background and are down and dirty guys.  Whether the biker you know lives the biker lifestyle or a corporate CEO turned biker on the weekends, they all seem to get along in a roadside bar because they have the bond of the open road.  It’s evident in the way they wave to each other as they pass.  I know I don’t wave to other Ford drivers.

Some of the scariest looking guys I’ve ever met were bikers, and they were also the kindest.  We rode with firemen, military, police officers and men who worked with their hands.  They had long beards, beer bellies and were long overdue on their haircuts.  They remember your name and your story no matter how much time passed.  They’re the guys you meet up with on Sunday morning at a diner and ride through the afternoon with.  They are lifelong friends who will help stop your oil leak and tow you to get your tire fixed.  Some have tattoos, some don’t.  A real rider never wears sneakers and shorts, but long pants and boots, no matter what the weather.  They know how to pack light and be prepared for anything that lies ahead.

They maneuver around people who don’t know how to share the road and with people who don’t see them, while stabilizing hundreds of pounds of metal on two wheels.  They are the first to stop and help you.  They support their friends and all of their causes, and will remember fallen friends in the form of embroidered patches and charity rides or events to support your family.  They talk like sailors amongst friends, but treat a lady like a lady, with respect.  They are sons, brothers, fathers and husbands.  They relish old stories and they aren’t afraid to cry when it comes to reflecting on something important to them either.

I certainly don’t mean to leave the women who ride out.  I’m actually related to some fine female bikers and proud of the way they handle themselves and the road without intimidation, in a predominately male atmosphere.  At this point, I just don’t trust my balance to join them and I’ll stick to the back for now.  Maybe one day…

My opinions here are based on my twenty-plus years of experience with motorcyclists I’ve known amongst my Dad’s various groups, as well as my father-in-law’s. There are always exceptions to everything, in addition to a slutty half naked biker rally girl for each kind of rider I’ve described to you today.   Just never judge a book by its cover, like I almost did with the random Hells Angel who saved me from getting crushed at a concert.  The guy picked me up like I was a feather.  Never imagined a man that frightening looking could’ve been so graceful, and in a mosh pit.

Vroom vroom…the open road is calling.

Photo courtesy of the Rapid City Journal.

For the Love of Music

Shannon enjoying music early on, before walking. Most likely listening to Mom's Elton John. (Disregard the hand, it's an unintentional gesture)

Music is crucial to one’s existence for many people. I am one of those people.

From an early age, it impacted my life. I remember waking up, pre-Kindergarten years and pulling out my Mom’s vinyl, trying to figure out how to play them before she woke up. I’m happy to say I never did any damage and I also inherited the collection when I moved out on my own.  What a great collection.  I attribute my passion for music from her.

As time went on, my allowance of $1 per week went toward cassettes.  The purchase was always a huge decision because it took a good deal of time to save the money, and I treated each one like an investment. More than one song had to be appreciated to buy a whole cassette; otherwise it would get taped off the radio.

By the time Santa got me a CD player, I found CD’s pretty expensive for my habit. My first CD was given to me by my Mom after I had some painful dental work. My gauze-filled mouth was all smiles when I had the joy of painstakingly opening my first CD, even with all those unnecessary and impossible sealing stickers. At one point I considered only purchasing CD’s from the labels who gave the convenience of those little pull tabs on the plastic wrap to get the CD open a good two minutes faster.

Eventually in high school, the money I made at my first job at a Hallmark store went almost exclusively to music.  Maybe a little went to gasoline to get to shows.  The towers of CD cases I accumulated were staggering and alarming to my Dad, who at one point asked how I afforded them.  He didn’t want to ask if I was stealing but looking back, I can see how he might have thought it to be impossible to make $5.25 per hour for a few hours a week and create such a collection.  I can tell you in all honesty though, each was legitimately purchased.

Today, my iPod is now full, of music ranging from the 1930’s to today, in any genre you can think of. Music impacts our lives and can help define moments, which is probably why I seem to have generated a playlist for so many routines and events.  So many of us recollect moments in conjunction with a song, immediately allowing us to recall events and slip into old emotion, even years later when an old song is played.  Though it’s probably morbid, I even know what songs I’d play at my funeral and my husband has strict instructions to do so. We must be a good match because he agreed he had some defining songs he’d already chosen post-mortem for himself.  My playlist is called “After”.

Alongside writing, for a short time I studied sound engineering and my Professors agreed that I had a knack for it.  Instead of following my heart, I decided to divert to more logical courses of study while feeding my need for sound on growing piles of debt, of which only ticket stubs and memories remain the acquisition.  These are the best investment I ever made.  The culture and experiences that music provides is overwhelming and never ending.  Today, surviving on the basis of music seems to be becoming more difficult and unfortunate.  For the rest of us, we can peruse our way through our daily lives with little devices that fill our heads and ultimately our souls with escape and inspiration.