Friday, July 22, 2016

Bold, Blonde Biker Babe and a Poem

Let's start with the poem!  Yea, Poetry Friday!
Today Chelanne is hosting at Books4Learning. 
And Yea, Summer Poetry Exchange!  My second poetry partner was Joy Acey for the poetry exchange organized by Tabatha Yeatts.  If you haven't done this exchange in the summer, certainly check out the abbreviated winter exchange and then next summer's exchange.  It is so much fun!

I wrote the poem below for Joy.  I searched her website and found that she had a beautiful photo of the westernmost lighthouse in the USA, Kilauea Lighthouse in Hawaii, where Joy lives:

I happen to live in the opposite corner of the world, where just up the coast is the easternmost lighthouse in the USA at Quoddy Head State Park in Lubec, Maine:

So I wrote about the lighthouse, and how what we do as writers, is like the job of the lighthouse.

The Lighthouse

As the lighthouse
Sending its beam
Across the waters
In the night
And through the fog
Reaching and
Forever changing
The lives
Of those it touches
At just the right time -
So is the writer’s pen.

By Donna JT Smith, June 16, 2016

And now for the motorcycle updates:

My newest bike in the growing herd, the Honda Shadow Aero 750... has now acquired the license plate "Daisy", having had it transferred from the Suzuki Burgman scooter.  I will be selling the 400cc scooter and my learners' bike, the Yamaha Virago 250cc.   Each was a short but, I feel, necessary step in my journey to becoming a full-fledged motorcyclist. I maybe could have skipped the Burgman, but it was still good for a couple of rides to feel the movement without having to think about gears yet.  But the Virago was the perfect bike to get me going.  I will always have a special place in my heart for it!

It takes my breath away when I think of riding.  It is exciting, scary, calming and powerful all rolled into one.  A lot of the techniques of horseback riding return when I am on the motorcycle, along with bicycle riding form.  But I'm really surprised at how much it feels like horseback riding - even the necessity to ride with "soft eyes", keeping your vision open and not single-minded focus.

A few days ago, I took my first public road ride on a very small stretch of road from the old Naval Air Station parking lot out to a small shopping center that abuts the Starbucks parking lot.  My husband and son dropped me off at the old airbase parking lot to practice all alone on the much bigger, heavier and more powerful Shadow 750.  They said when I was done, they'd be at SB if I felt up to driving it over, or they would pick me up at the parking lot when I called.  I just nodded.  I would be calling shortly.

I practiced turns and clutch, stopping and starting, rode a little on the very quiet roads in their connecting parking lots... and then made the BOLD move, out to the public main road through two controlled intersections about 100 yards then into the busy shopping center parking lot.  I parked the bike right up close to the parking lot for SB, and walked over to claim my victory coffee! 

I have since, ridden three times in our small, rural development where I have met one walker and a fawn.  Not much traffic here.  Not much going on in here, except for that one wild 65 year old woman riding a red motorcycle - oh, wait, that would be me!

The inevitable happened Wednesday morning while on our small association road.
I dropped the bike.
I was stopped and attempting a very tight turn on an uphill at our mailboxes - a turn my son told me "You should not be doing.  No one would do that turn."
Ok.  I learned another thing.
If it's too hard, don't do it.  Don't force it.  It was another horseback riding lesson really... being "intense" vs having "intent".

I called a neighbor who kindly came and helped me right the damage to the bike.  I was okay, too.  Well, except for that nasty knee that wasn't quite healed from the train platform landing fiasco.  I opened up the fresh, thin skin, as I knelt on it to get up.  So we are doing that all over again!  Oh, well, it could have been worse.  Just taught me that my priorities for starting up on a hill should be foot brake first, but only if I'm in first gear!  Sorry, for all that technical stuff for those of you who don't ride a motorcycle...  wait!  Who here does ride?  Anyone else out there?

Wednesday afternoon, my son called me and asked if I wanted to ride to Starbucks.  He'd come out and take my 750cc bike to his house in town, or I could use the small 250cc, and we could ride the five miles from there to get coffee.  I hesitated and looked at my knee.  I made all sorts of excuses in my head, and quickly took all sorts of body assessments, before hearing my voice say, "Yes, and I want to take the 750".
What?  I said what?
And I got my boots, jacket, gloves and helmet.
And we did it.  I did it.

Bonus trip!  Last night I rode with my husband and son from our house, down the one main road on the island to Five Islands dock, got a soda, and then headed back home.  7 miles down, 7 back (funny how that works).  Hills.  Curves.  Narrow roads.  Traffic galore - lots of tourists.  Two dogs in the road.  People standing and talking in the road (we ARE in Maine).  We made it to the ocean and back.  It was tense at times for me, and I had to keep reminding myself to relax my legs, my arms, my shoulders...even my jaw.  And each time I relaxed, I had fun. 

Who is that platinum blonde with the red motorcycle?
Each ride and step further seems a small victory perhaps.  But I am reminded of all the little victories my first graders had, that felt huge in their eyes (and often in their parents' eyes and mine, too).... and they all added up little by little to become an accomplishment that hadn't been before.  So in each little step, I find a bit more strength coursing through me, a sense of "it ain't over yet" - and the knowledge that the "fat lady" ain't even here to sing anymore! (did I mention minus 45 pounds yet?)

I hope someday, that each of us can find a new thing at an old time, and embrace it.  What will your "new thing" be?

More things to learn,
More stuff to do,
More sweet adventures,
More growth for you -
Hold on, let go,
Just have some fun;
It's safe to say -
You're not yet done. 

Donna JT Smith, 2016


  1. I just found a book telling the story of growing up in a lighthouse at my bookstore, will let you know when I read it how it is. I think they're pretty special, as is your poem for Joy. What a wonderful connection you made! As for the motorcycle riding. I can follow, did ride a tiny 'bike" which Arvie won in a contest once. I so admire you for learning and persisting with these big ones-know that once they fall, you will need help. What I might do next- not sure. Does doing more & more at the bookstore count?

    1. I think your bookstore adventure is a fun one! Now you get to read ANY book you want to! Just like being a kid again - only no book reports! Well, except for the lighthouse book. You do need to give me a report on that one....
      How awesome that you've ridden before!. Maybe you shoul pick up a small bike again to cruise around town....

  2. "Not yet done" is right! I guess everybody will get used to seeing the blonde with the bike :-)
    I love that you and Joy are with the westernmost and easternmost lighthouses! What an awesome topic to write about (and connect to writing itself).

    1. Tabatha, the neat thing is Donna had the poem, and lighthouse picture printed on a bag that says, "I'm going on a Joy-Write!" I put my journal and pens in the bag and am ready to go. i take the bag with me to the beach. It is so cool. My friends love my bag and I do too. Donna is so talented.

    2. Both of my grown kids said I was allowed to call my white hair platinum blonde! So blonde it is!
      It was amazing to realize Joy and I have the two extremes in lighthouses in our two states. I think we have the two extremes in ocean water temperatures, too!

  3. I love "Not yet done." May we never be done. Living is an act of learning and growing. Thank you for sharing your biker babe adventures with us.

    1. 😎 There's always something more to learn!!! Love that about life!

  4. I had such fun reading your post this morning! I love the connection you made to writing with your lighthouse poem. I am so impressed with your motorcycle adventures and your determination to embrace something new and challenging and push yourself. I'll keep an eye out for a platinum blond on a red Honda when I'm tooling around Brunswick in my Subaru!

    1. Molly, we really need to meet sometime! You are so close - I've probably seen you in the grocery store or Walmart....or even Starbucks!
      My other drive is a Subaru...if you ever see ANCHOR-D - it is I!

  5. Not yet done, indeed, Ms. Motorcyclist-Poet! I lovelovelove the reference to Soft Eyes here and propose that Soft Eyes is also the way to see the world as a poet. Thank you for sharing your adventures and your words and your pics. xo

    1. Yes, Soft Eyes is good in so many situations. It is definitely something to use in teaching, too!

  6. I love that you've spanned the country from its farthest shores and connected us all with writing. Your motorcycle adventures are inspiring. It sounds fun. I've ridden on a motorcycle as a passenger, but never as the driver. What an undertaking!

    1. About 30 years ago, I rode as a passenger with my husband. Used to take the ferry to Nova Scotia and ride around there for a week. Then kids and soccer and work and... and... until we finally bought a Miata convertible to tool around in. This year, with the insistence and encouragement of a fully mature son with a motorcycle, my husband and I decided to give it one more go - only me on my own.

  7. Hello dear Donna,
    Love your bookends photos of lighthouse east & lighthouse west for Joy.
    And your poem is so true.
    Did you hear my little shriek of lightbeam I sent you when I read this post?
    Some P.F. folks know I've written a picture book poetry collection of of verses about
    lighthouses or closely lighthouse related that an editor/pub is considering.
    Hope that both you & Linda let us know about the living-in-a-lighthouse book.

    Good lightbeam-penning to you,


    1. Oh, hope you have lots of success with the lighthouse book! That is wonderful.

  8. Ah, two of my favorite things--lighthouses and writing--together! I climbed Hatteras Lighthouse (NC) many times as a kid. Love your photo bookends. Love your poem, especially thinking of the pen as a lighthouse. Love your biker tale... (Did I really write "love" again?) ...and the universal truths wonderfully written and woven into it. Like-- "Don't force it. ... being 'intense' vs having 'intent'" and "Each time I relaxed, I had fun."

  9. I'm just going to stay away from the motorcycles. Almost every morning out here there is a report during the traffic news of a motorcycle/auto accident.

    I like the lighthouse poem.

    1. Hey, nice to see you! I dropped in at your page about a week ago, and meant to leave a comment, but was out visiting my grandkids and must have gotten distracted - no, really! I don't know how I could have gotten distracted...
      I don't think I'd ride out where you are either! Maine can still be dangerous, but not nearly as dangerous as most of California is, I imagine. I'm taking back roads mostly - I'm not a highway rider!

  10. The lighthouse poem brought back great memories of visiting them on our travels - our kids were just as fascinated with them as we were. That's an awesome bike!

    1. Lighthouses really are so fascinating. Can't imagine being a keeper.
      I was so fortunate to have found my motorcycle on Craig's List!

  11. A poem-writing, story-telling, new skill-learning motorcycle mama! You go, girl!

    (Love the metaphor in the lighthouse poem!)

  12. You are brave and audacious! Last week on our holiday in southeast BC (Nelson), we encountered throngs of motorcycles, and I thought of you. I asked one gent about why all the cycles. He said it's usually a predictably warm pleasant place to ride though this year lots of thunder squalls with downpours. He shook his head at his own craziness as he told us about riding through rain pouring down like waterfalls. (Wonderful lighthouse / writing poem too.)

    1. Almost took the motorcycle out today...and it poured. So I was glad I missed that!

  13. This is wonderful! I'm not familiar with a poem exchange. I might need to find out more about that. The poem for Joy is lovely and shining like a lighthouse.
    Learning to ride a motorcycle? Wow. Better you than me! But, I really enjoy reading about your thoughts as you learn....and how that informs a poem. GREAT post.

    1. I wasn't sure how I'd do with learning to ride, or if I'd like it at all...just determined that I would try to learn and if I did, then I could decide if I liked it. And I'm finding that I do like it. You never know, you may be next to try it! I never thought I would either.

  14. That Quoddy Head light is so darn cheerful with its stripes. I'm sorry to miss the exchange this summer, but I've overextended myself and feel the need to cut back a wee bit. Motorcycles scare the stuffing out of me, good for you for conquering the bike!

    1. I can't say that they don't still scare me either!

  15. SO much inspiration in this post, Donna:
    "exciting, scary, calming and powerful"
    "I had to keep reminding myself to relax my legs, my arms, my shoulders...even my jaw. And each time I relaxed, I had fun."
    "Hold on, let go"
    All of these can be said for motorcycle riding, poetry, and most especially, life. Thank you for sharing your poetry and motorcycle riding journey. =)

    1. I will be glad when there is not so much "self-talk" happening, and it gets more second-nature. It's coming!

  16. Being a bold, blonde biker babe is taking you to corners that you only dreamed of. Good for you, Donna.


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